Michael Fullilove’s retrospective on the second Iraq war (“We stood by the US as it erred grievously in Iraq”, The Australian, 19/4) is insightful, but no more so than the prescience of the millions who took to the streets to protest the war at its outset. They were described at the time in The Australian by Greg Sheridan as “anti-American”, “hysterical”, “emotional and irrational”. But they were also correct, and not just in hindsight, because they could see the inevitability of the pointless bloodbath to come, just as others had with Vietnam and other past military misadventures.
That the “Coalition of the Willing” could so easily forget this, and thus be blind to what was so obvious to their own people, demonstrates the corrosive effect of national ambition acted out on the world stage. The ugly mess the war became was another unnecessary demonstration of the hard-learned reasons why international laws exist.
The international community now faces new challenges similar to those posed by pre-war Iraq. Let us hope that nations tempted to take the law into their own hands have now been cured of both their amnesia and their blindness to the wisdom of their own citizens.