When you are a child you think that your parents are the source of infinite wisdom. As the years pass by you learn that even they are fallible. The pedestals upon which the leaders of this world are elevated remain intact for a good while longer. Even they begin to crumble. Eventually you find yourself in a place where you realise that no one in a position of any sort of power is in possession of the slightest ounce of intelligence, integrity or common sense.
This is where I am now.
Three years in Iraq and no end is in sight. What do I, a 30 something single girl living alone in a 1 bedroom flat in north London, know about the affairs of the world? Surely Bush and Blair, with their access to a wealth of knowledge and information of which I could only dream, have a stronger foundation than I upon which to make their decisions.
I was not alone with my instincts. Not only did I believe that Iraq was wrong but I knew that ‘we’ were embarking upon a battle of which we had not the slightest comprehension. ‘It will be another Vietnam’ I repeated over and over those three short years ago. Even when confronted by the tumbling statue of Sadaam and the jubilation of the Iraqi crowds I knew that we were fighting against something which we had not taken the time to understand. The Viet Cong managed to run rings around their financially and technologically superior enemy because they thought their might was enough. The Americans were blasé, egotistical and ignorant. They didn’t think that ‘getting to know your enemy’ was something they need lower themselves to. Not much has changed. There has been no learning from mistakes.
I, personally, consider myself a ‘victim’ of this war (in the scheme of things a very minor one, but a victim all the same). I am one of millions whose lives have been shattered by those ill informed, not to mention illegal, decisions. And yet even I, little old me, knew better than they did. If only they’d listened, they must be kicking themselves now.
I have dredged the streets for information and support since the 7th of July. It has been totally unforthcoming. I do not know, but I fear that the soldiers returning from Iraq, in their highly traumatised state, feel equally isolated and abandoned. Why should we pay for our leader’s mistakes? The price is too high and, at the very least, there should be help on hand.
I have found strength, love, empathy and support from my fellow passengers. I have received nothing as valuable from the government. The 7th of July is a ‘normal’ day in Iraq. I feel guilt at my self indulgence when I watch and read about the suffering of thousands of other innocent people. I have a roof over my head, central heating, food and water, and infinite unnecessary luxuries. None of my loved ones have been lost in this fight, the only thing I have lost is my mind. But that is enough for me to feel betrayed. They are washing their hands of us, they will not even give us, and the dead, the honour of an inquiry.
We will have a half hearted moment of a platform at the London Assembly on Thursday. It is not enough, but it is something and I intend to make the most of it.