As further proof they point to January’s elections in Iraq. This was a vote that the Americans wanted to postpone, in which many people could not participate, that produced a victory for Islamists with close ties to Iran who want the US troops out as soon as possible. If all of this amounts to victory, I would hate to see what their idea of defeat looks like.

The truth is that you cannot even begin to make a justification for the war unless you take into account the lives of innocent Iraqis lost as a result of it. The simplest way to deal with that is to pretend that these deaths do not exist - the occupying powers simply do not count them. The only other defence is that their deaths are a price worth paying and that good things can come from bad acts - a claim every bit as offensive and wrong-headed as arguing that 9/11 was a price worth paying for waking America up to the consequences of its foreign policy.

But the Iraqis are not the only ones to have suffered these past two years. While the occupiers have been busy failing to export democracy abroad, they have been busy undermining it at home. All of them lied to their electorates about the reasons for going to war. With the exception of America, all of them went to war despite overwhelming opposition from the public. And through their anti-terrorist bills and patriot acts they have removed some of the most basic legal rights of their citizens and criminalised the most vulnerable.

The elections last year in Spain and recent events in Italy are encouraging. They show that while the anti-war movement failed to stop the war, it has maintained a sufficiently effective presence to make a crucial difference at key moments to disable and discredit it. ~Gary Younge, The Guardian

Mr. Younge’s observation about the antiwar movement is an interesting one, and it makes sense for European countries in which that movement has consistently enjoyed majority approval. As the sad, pitiful collapse of anything resembling an organised movement against the Iraq war in this country has given way to fits of spasmodic protest and general malaise, aided in no small part by the gutting of the antiwar position by its only logical political beneficiaries (the Democrats), we see a war on auto-pilot, blindly blundering ahead to no definite end and with no concrete objectives to achieve.

The moral horror of effectively massacring tens of thousands, perhaps up to one hundred thousand civilians alone (to say nothing of the thousands of soldiers killed), to achieve dubious goals only vaguely related (if at all) to legitimate national security does not seem to penetrate the confused consciousness of most Americans. The cavalier, pro-war justification of these deaths as being worthwhile is made easy by the fact that the price is largely being paid by someone else, largely by unseen and unheard foreigners. Then, once these bodies have grown cold, the very same men who blithely write off the dead from the war they endorsed and supported can pose this week as some moral champions of the sanctity of life.