Saturday, February 10, 2007

# Posted 5:56 AM by Patrick Porter  

THAT LINE BY KRAUTHAMMER: Taylor has already discussed this, but I'll add my 2 cents.

Here's Charles Krauthammer's judgement: 'We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.'

Its true that we midwifed political freedom, namely the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. We (belatedly) facilitated free elections, (which millions of Iraqis turned out to vote for against death threats), the formation of a constitution, not to mention the end of economic sanctions.

But we also created conditions of mass unemployment, a lack of law and order, a sheer neglect and denial of the growing problem of insurgency and sectarian and ethnic conflict, not to mention the damage done to the legitimacy of the US-led effort by revelations of torture and human rights violations.

Under such conditions, where the new state and the occupation could not be provider and left people vulnerable to various predators, many Iraqis began to revert to primary loyalties, defined by John Robb as 'a connection to a non-state group that is greater than loyalty to a state. These loyalties include those to clan, religion, tribe, neighborhood gang, etc.'

So we midwifed their freedom, but gave them anarchy. Like most of us would have done, they embraced gangs, and the gangs got bigger and bigger.


(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

"They chose civil war": anyone who thinks that the decisions of millions of people can usefully be discussed as if they are equivalent to a decision made a single moral agent is, to use a technical term, a tit.
Saying "They chose civil war" is yet again the disingenuous and fallacious meme that somehow it was their fault that Iraq has gone to hell. Calling us "midwifes" is ridiculous. More like dishonest and abusive parents who now blame their child for being a basket case.

Please, stop pretending that they "chose" to do anything. Stop pretending that this little excursion to Iraq was going to end in anything but tears. You know better, Patrick.

I'm actually criticising Krauthammer on this one!

I don't agree that failure in the war in Iraq was foreordained. I'm not 'pretending', I just don't agree with your analysis.

But I am arguing that the conditions we helped create would drive most people in most places to turn to primary loyalties and the kinds of violence we are seeing today.
Mea culpa, I didn't read you carefully enough. I agree, I think the "they chose" idea needs to be buried.
Well, I defend Krauthammer. I have always been shocked at the amount of violence Iraqis have leveled against one another, regardless of US and British military presence/occupation/whatever you want to call it. I think midwifery is a bit of a silly analogy, but there is no doubt that the dictator was removed, allowing Iraqis the opportunity to create a less awful government. What followed? Iraqis and others blowing up pipelines, assassinating low-level government officials (I seem to remember engineers at the power stations being knocked off, ironically), refusing to participate in any democratic process (Sunnis), rounding up members of the "other" for neighborhood expulsion (Sunnis and Shiites), and an expectation that the US would solve all the problems caused by the thugs and criminals in the country, and more and more.

Also, the notion that unemployment, power outages, etc. lead inevitably to suicide bombing has always seemed a pretty big leap to me. I know many others think differently- good luck to them. I guess the homeless in the U.S. should be excused for mass murder should they adopt that position and begin carrying out suicide attacks down at the local food banks.

Ultimately, one does have to ask: if the U.S. is not 100% responsible for the post-invasion violence and chaos in Iraq, what percentage of responsibility do Iraqis (individually and collectively) have for it? 5%? 60%? 0%? One does have to ask, doesn't one, or doesn't one then credit and blame the US and the "West" for all? That seems to me a somewhat patronizing position.

I think it is right that the US should have expected such a level of inter-Iraq violence, considering the history of the Hussein regime(and even a look at World War II-Germany was crushed before it was possible for "regime change"), but it is very sad to me that the Iraqis did not choose otherwise. The fact that the violence has occurred should not cheer anyone, regardless of their position on the war itself. It saddens me when I sense a shamefully pleased attitude from some people when acts of violence are carried out in Iraq. I believe they are happy that post-war violence has happened so that they may criticize their political opponents. I hope I am wrong about them.
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