Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Peter Hain

Good stuff from this morning's Guardian:
Gordon Brown comes out of Iraq better than Peter Hain. It is a very long time since British politics has witnessed anything quite as abject and contemptible as Hain's recent interview in the New Statesman.

"The neocon mission has failed," Hain proclaims - now. "People have forgotten about [the government's achievements] because of the Iraq conflict," the Northern Ireland secretary tells us - now. The government found itself working with "the most rightwing American administration, if not ever, then in living memory", he observes - now, in the year 2007, just as he happens to be running for the Labour deputy leadership.

But really, what an utter wretch this man is! What a dismal, slippery poltroon! Like Molière's Monsieur Jourdain learning that he had been speaking prose all his life, Hain suddenly discovers that George Bush is a rightwing politician, something he evidently never noticed in the years when Bush was governor of Texas, and presided over the execution of 153 people - on one occasion publicly mocking a woman he had put to death - or indeed when he reached the White House.

It's quite true that we took part in the Iraq war in order to demonstrate our - or Blair's - absolute loyalty to that American administration. Like Brown, Hain was a member of the cabinet when the war began. Like him, he could have resigned. Like him, he decided, in Lloyd George's phrase, to perish with his drawn salary in his hands.

In fact, Hain went further. Two years ago he was still defending the case for regime change, or insisting that "an Iraq moving into democracy provides a better future for the Iraqi people". And he sneered at what he called the "tired old attack" which "questions the prime minister's integrity" - over the dossiers and claims about weapons of mass destruction, that is.

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