Depending on who you speak to, the British have occupied Northern Ireland for over 800 years. Since 1921, when Ireland was partitioned into North and South, the British have been locked into a bitter conflict between Catholic separatists and Protestant unionists. Depending on who you speak to, they are either wrong to be there and fomenting the â€œtroublesâ€ or they are right to be there and are keeping a violent conflict at bay.
The 1921 partition kicked off a vicious internecine civil war until 1923. Both sides committed awful atrocities, the legacy of which still over-shadows the gradual and grudging peace process.
The British may be wrong to be there. Maybe they should never have gone. But no-one doubts the bloodshed that would result if they left prematurely.
Now we have Iraq.
Depending on who you speak to, the Americans have illegally occupied Iraq since 2003. Since 2003, the US has been locked into a bitter conflict between the minority Sunni who supported Saddam Hussein, and the majority Shia, who didnâ€™t. Depending on who you speak to, the US was either wrong to be there and is fomenting the â€œtroublesâ€ or they are right to be there and are keeping a violent conflict at bay.
The 2003 invasion has kicked off a vicious internecine war long held in check by an overriding dictatorship. Both sides are committing awful atrocities and this legacy over-shadows all attempts at creating a lasting peace.
George W Bush and his fellow travellers may very well be wrong to have ever ordered the invasion â€“ history will judge that decision. But now the US is there and Iraq is a tortured hell-hole.
Just because Bush is discredited doesnâ€™t mean that others should compound his error by leaving an entire nation to find its lowest level. History will judge a US exit far more severely than its entrance.
When the â€œgreatâ€ powers of the colonial era fled Africa they took with them all their technical know-how of how a nation should be run. The legacy has been decades of barbarity and unrest as sovereign nations come ungummed. Events are judging the ex-colonial powers badly for this incredible neglect of responsibility.
Iraq is not a video game. Just because you donâ€™t want to play anymore doesnâ€™t mean the game stops and everyone goes home. If you think that the murder and mayhem is unspeakable now you should consider how bad it will be when no-one is there to attempt to hold the protagonists apart.
The US may be wrong to be there. Maybe they should never have gone. But do you doubt the bloodshed that will result if they leave prematurely?