Sunday 24 February 2019

Lefty gloom-mongers who had a bad war

WHEN it comes to getting things wrong, you can depend on the troika of pundits: Robert Fisk, Vincent Browne and Fintan O'Toole.

The line-up of trendy liberal lefties whose dire predictions have not come to pass includes the UN, Green TD John Gormley, and Amnesty International. But those well-known supporters of small wars (as opposed to large ones), Mitchel McLaughlin and Aengus O Snodaigh of Sinn Fein, have shown they can get it just as wrong as the rest of them.

But we'll start with Michael D Higgins. "By the time this House returns on Tuesday, March 25, it is possible that up to one million mothers may be affected by war, there may be 100,000 direct casualties and 400,000 secondary ones; 10 to 15 million people on food dependence may also be affected," our presidential hopeful predicted, quoting liberally from a UN report.

"I actually believed and wrote in the paper that it's possible that one day we'll all get up and all the militias and the Iraqi soldiers will be gone and we'll see American soldiers walking through the streets [of Baghdad], but I don't believe that now - it is a war without international legitimacy, and the more it goes on the more it hurts Bush and the less it hurts Saddam," said Robert Fisk on March 25.

"Even the siege of Baghdad - a city which is 30 miles wide and might need a quarter of a million men to surround it - is fading from the diary," said the gloomy Fisk as the assault began. It took just 48 hours for him to be proved wrong.

Vincent Browne, too, has had a bad war, although he was careful to attribute his dire predictions to the UN. "All this terrible violence, according to a UN agency, will place about 10 million Iraqi civilians at risk of hunger and disease and give rise to close to a million refugees. In addition, of course, to slaughtering thousands of them."

As we have seen, the refugee camps remain empty and the Iraqis look remarkably happy.

If his predictions were off-the-wall, what about a treasured guest on RTE's Tonight with Vincent Browne? "I predict that America will lose this war and ultimately the American military will leave Iraq with its tail between its legs. We do not have sufficient combat power in Iraq to win this battle. We will not win this fight. I'm betting that Saddam Hussein is going to be around a lot longer than anyone can predict. I'm betting that we don't capture Baghdad." We're betting that former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter lost his shirt on those predictions.

"The disaster is unmitigated," proclaimed Tin Tin O'Toole in The Irish Times. "We owe them the truth that the quick, clean war they wanted to fight has already been lost and the slow, brutal one they are now fighting cannot be won, even when Saddam is dead and Baghdad is occupied." Tell that to the thousands who celebrated his removal.

What Fintan and Vincent and Robert could not envisage was that the coalition of UK and US military would actually win the war, and win it quickly and relatively cleanly.

Amnesty International weighed in with dire and wrong predictions: "50,000 civilian deaths? 500,000 civilians injured? 2 million refugees and displaced people? 10 million in need of humanitarian assistance?"

The Greens' John Gormley took up the theme: "What we do know is that an Iraqi war will mean tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians will be killed."

Those purveyors of a small war not too far from us also have the nerve to claim to be anti-war. "Britain and America will justify the tens of thousands killed, the hundreds of thousands injured and the millions displaced as being for their own good," said Mitchel McLaughlin. "This is war, people die in war, and in this war, hundreds of thousands of civilians will die," predicted Aengus O Snodaigh, addressing an anti-war rally in March.

Let us hope the Americans who fund the IRA will now realise who their friends are and that Sinn Fein is anti-Bush.

But our best worst prediction comes from Medact, a UK 'health professionals organisation'. It offered the following possible casualties of war, and estimated up to 50,000 civilian dead in Baghdad alone with a further 30,000 in Basra, Kirkuk etc; 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and 5,000 US soldiers dead in Baghdad, and a further 30,000 and 3,000 dead Iraqi and US soldiers respectively in other towns.

Their conclusion was for up to 260,000 total dead in a three-month conventional conflict, and if there was civil war and/or nuclear war, then up to 3,889,100. Dontcha just love the lunatic specificity of that last number?

Eilis O'Hanlon

and Jody Corcoran

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss