Tuesday, December 13, 2005

David Aaronovitch on the 'disaster' of the Iraq

from Times Online,
There is, on parts of the Left, a long and ignoble tradition of trashing democracy. This week one ultra-Left group was arguing for the slogan, “Troops out now! The main enemy is imperialism!” It is a slogan that seems, psychologically at least, to unite many diverse objectors to the war. But the groupuscule’s argument then went something like this. It understood that the insurgency wanted to oppress Kurds, suppress the Shia and “physically exterminate” trade unions and feminist groups. However, communists, it said, “recognise that an imperialist defeat would objectively open up possibilities for the working class, and we would therefore welcome it even if it came at the hands of reactionary anti-imperialists”. And sod the Iraqis.

And something similar can happen on the far more reasonable Right. In February 2003 Matthew wrote that he would be against a war in Iraq even if there was WMD, even if it was authorised by the UN, even if a liberated Iraq was then stable, and concluded: “I’m against war because it will antagonise moderate Arab opinion.” And the Iraqi people? To be massacred, shredded, gassed, beheaded, suppressed, starved, immiserated, terrorised and tortured because all of that would be less bad than antagonising moderate Arab opinion. An Iraqi democrat stands in front of an armchair anti- interventionist, and is invisible.

I do apologise. For Abu Ghraib and Donald Rumsfeld. For not understanding the insurgents. For the looting. For the dire planning. I apologise to the election workers assassinated, the police trainees blown up, the parents of children caught in crossfire and everyone else that the planners and executors of the invasion that I supported, and still support, may have let down by neglect or stupidity. I recognise their bravery and their determination to succeed despite everything.

But a disaster compared with what? Compared with Saddam and sanctions or Saddam and cyanide. And that — the thing that Matthew presumably preferred — was not a disaster? Snort.

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