I wrote first drafted this four weeks ago, before Christmas, and think I identified the inflection point in Covid politics. For some reason, I left it till now to post. Nevertheless, my parallel may not be appropriate…
It feels like we are at the point in the War on Terror soon after the Weapons of Mass Destruction-justified invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The point at which the relentless ratcheting up of the threat; the incidental and strong-armed coalitions of interests; the half-truths and the lies; the risk irrationality and the fear-mongering; the sexed-up documents and partial evidence; the bad faith politics, the cross-party connivance and whipped votes; the relentless politician’s statements, press conferences and propaganda; the uncritical mainstream media sense of purpose and boosterism; and the obsessive and extreme focus on one issue, collapsed like a house of cards.
And everyone who had been a hawk, or a fearful dove, became sheepish. Over the ensuing years the evidence came to be seen for the plagiarism it was, and the truths were revealed by objective parties; the intrigues and connivances unravelled; the protagonists’ self-interest trumped their common front and they ditched each other; the unforeseen consequences became obvious and played out; the previous bad acts and events, and lack of thinking and planning, started to be revealed; and the cost in human suffering became evident.
Those who had been the biggest boosters — the Armchair Artillery, the Geopolitical Guerrillas, the Long-armed Liberators— no longer held their heads up and were, for a while at least, shunned in public life. Some continued to defend the faith but were always defensive and deflated.
Until, years later, we couldn’t imagine how we had let ourselves become so monomaniacal, so easily duped and led, so blinkered, so untethered from our political instincts, so unable to resist the political and social pressure.
There were some good outcomes. Our hubris in thinking military intervention was a solution looking for a problem had been burst. We realised societies have to be built up by their citizens and can’t be imposed from outside (though we forgot this with Libya). But we didn’t really take on board the learnings in our political culture, and that is to be regretted.
[Also published on Facebook]