The decision for the then Labour government to join the US in invading Iraq in 2003 is pivitol for the Left; it was the moment when New Labour joined the ranks of the scorned, the unforgivable. When “Blairite” became pejorative.
That’s why it’s ironic that the way the “coalition of the willing” went wrong in Iraq back then is eerily reminiscent of the way the Left is now in the process of destroying itself, the apotheosis of this a mere five weeks and two days away.
One of the major reasons the invasion of Iraq was such a disaster was the immediate aftermath of the first, main attack. While Bush spoke with the words “Mission Accomplished” behind him, the foundations for extreme folly were being built. For it was decided that anyone and anything with any connection to the old regime had to be blown away; kept as far from the “new way” as possible. The main problem with this idea is that in a totalitarian regime such as Saddam’s was, this would include pretty much anyone who had any clue how things worked in Iraq; it would also leave the country with absolutely no civil service or civil society, like a country emerging from decades of anarchy. America and its allies pressed ahead with it anyhow.
The Left did the same thing with the Labour Party: they destroyed absolutely everything to do with the old order without giving thought to how the new one they wanted to create would be constructed, or indeed, even what it would roughly look like when complete. They just knew that anything and anyone connected to the old order was someone not to be trusted; better to give the emerging one the chance to breathe. It would all work out somehow.
Thankfully, the Left destroying itself will not lead to bloodshed as the similar mistake did in Iraq. But it remains painful to note that those who spent the most time deriding the western invasion of Iraq failed to learn the biggest lesson from that failed war: you need to keep things steady while you change things. And you need to have a real plan for how you change things as well. Willingness to succeed simply isn’t enough.