Posted by lex, on March 14, 2006
It’s not just the moral case, although that should not surprise – there’s also the practical rationale.
It is not true of course, that only certain British progressives remain in favor of the nearly three-year old regime change in Iraq, even as American neo-cons experience changes of heart, and whey-faced, Kissengerian paleo-cons murmur “told you so’s.”
Nor is it necessary to believe that every thing which has transpired in the intervening years has gone exactly according to plan, to believe that removing the risk Saddam represented to the free world is worth the pain, blood and treasure we have spent.
One may lament the lost opportunities along the way, without also succumbing to the temptation of throwing a brutalized populace to the jihadist wolves, and hoping perhaps that they’ll worry more over the re-subjugation of distant Kurds and Shiites, rather than turn their energies outward again, against the rest of us.
One can believe all of these things, and yet lament that there are not more people on both sides of the Western political divide who believe in the ends of the underlying ideas which once united us – even as they disagree with each other as to means : Freedom of thought, expression, conscience, democracy and human dignity. When you combine these our ideals with the cultural imperative to defend them and ourselves from vicious and remorseless men, you gain the clarity of Oliver Kamm, committed leftist:
With the advantage of three years of hindsight, politicians’ failed predictions about Iraq make dispiriting reading. “Any war will cause a refugee crisis of huge proportions,” insisted Charles Kennedy. Iraqis proved him wrong by distinguishing perfectly well between a war on tyranny and a war on them, and stayed put…
It is not a vulgar tu quoque to point out that those who supported regime change in Iraq are far from exceptional in having some explaining to do. Mistaken ideas have consequences, even when the inference drawn from them is a counsel of inaction. Had we not overthrown Saddam, Iraq today would be far from tranquil. Many argue that the absence of WMD shows that western policy had been working. It was in reality unravelling fast, and few opponents of war treated the problem seriously.
Saddam allowed intrusive inspections only because of the threat of force. Containment of his regime would have meant continuous military deployment in neighbouring states and the no-fly zones; intensified economic sanctions; inspections coercive enough to withstand Saddam’s intimidation and fraud; and the support of France and Russia. Even with personalities of greater competence than Hans Blix and higher morals than Jacques Chirac, that commitment would have been inconceivable. Of the permanent members of the security council, only the US and UK could have been relied on.
There’s a great deal more besides. Do read on. (In the Guardian, of all places!)