The Iraq endgame is now in a new phase and the media is starting to get to grips with the consequences. Last night 400 people crowded in to the LSE Old Theatre to hear how Channel 4’s Iraq Commission had helped move the agenda on from recrimination to rehabilitation. Labour peer Margaret Jay explained how the Commission’s conclusion was that all policy choices are negative options, but that a complex set of actions can make the pain of rebuilding the country and the region less agonising. The LSE’s Mary Kaldor was hopeful about the changing foreign policy landscape in America but insisted that there has to be a rebuilding of legitimacy within Iraq as well as internationally. She expressed her fear that places like Darfur will suffer from a general retreat from intervention in the wake of the Iraq debacle. The Telegraph‘s outstanding foreign correspondent Damian McElroy has reported extensively from Iraq recently and he added to the general sense of realism in the face of overwealmingly depressing news. As Damian said, viewpoints here are very much fixed about Iraq, minds are closed. What is desperately needed is a more imaginative as well as pragmatic approach to getting through the next very sticky phase.
Channel 4 are to be commended for the effort they put in to broadcasting this serious and difficult subject and their success in moving the debate along, as are the Foreign Policy Centre. The story from Iraq is moving on from dodgy dossiers, perhaps even from the daily car bombings, to the awesomely difficult politics of the future. My tip? watch Turkey as much as Iran.
There will be full details of this event on our website.