When I was researching for both books, Arapaho and Bog Hammer it led me into some interesting places. Firstly I suspect the situation is far more complicated than our press either know or want us to know. During the fighting in Beirut in the 1980s there were at least twenty-two separate factions fighting for their own agendas. These ranged from large organisations like the PLO, to small splinter groups. I can't believe this current situation is much different.
Secondly, if we go back to the 20s or even earlier, the whole region was carved up by Western powers with very little thought to the poor people who actually lived there. Of course the same is true in Africa, one only has to see the dead straight lines, presumably drawn by some nameless civil servant with no understanding of what he was actually doing, to realise what a callous and arbitrary act it was.
It was Winston Churchill, between the wars, when ordering the Royal Air Force to bomb the Kurds, who came up with the phrase to create 'an atmosphere of righteous terror'. Who was the terrorist then?
When the Shah of Iran was the West's friend, Saddam Hussein and his country were classified as a country that promoted terrorism. Right up until the time the people got fed up of the Shah and his vicious ways and kicked him out. Of course the Americans overreacted and all of a sudden Saddam Hussein was a friend to the West and was backed all the way through the Iran-Iraq war by us. It could be argued that had we left Saddam alone or even stopped him attacking Iran, the Ayatollahs would have lasted only a few months but we didn't wait. The Iran-Iraq war was, apart from the two world wars, the biggest this planet has ever seen. And of course we knew he had weapons of mass destruction later on because we had supplied the chemicals to make the weapons in the first place. 60,000 Iranians were gassed and how often do you hear about that?.
And then as soon as that war was over the West abandoned Iraq leaving Saddam Hussein with a crippling war debt, other Arab nations driving down the price of oil illegally and putting Iraq in an impossible position. Invading Kuwait may not have been the best solution but bearing in mind it was actually part of Iraq until some British civil servant drew a line literally through the sand, maybe it was understandable.
And then President Bush and a certain Tony Blair decided that the risk to our security posed by Iraq because of the weapons of mass destruction (the ones we supplied in the first place) was too great to be allowed to continue . It's strange these days that Tony Blair only ever talks about the righteousness of removing Saddam and conveniently forgets to mention the WMD at all.
None of this in any way excuses the barbarity and sickening behaviour of the morons now fighting in the region or murdering innocent civilians on the streets of Paris. However, maybe we should look at our own record and accept some responsibility for the situation. Maybe we should recognise that we need to resolve it. And that doesn't mean letting the RAF drop a few bombs to institute an atmosphere of righteous terror.
The Jon Hunt series of books is continuing with the current one addressing the issues of the Serbian war. But at some point my hero is going to confront the problem that many must have had in the military with the invasion of Iraq. I suspect that will be the last book in the series. Thank goodness he will be too old to get caught up in the current situation.
Sorry, rant over. Shameless marketing below: