The voice of a British Left Winger. This is how Internationalism should sound these days. Let’s never forget Chritopher Hitchens, Paul Berman and all the other leftists and liberals who support the toppling of Saddam, because it was simply the right thing to do as all other dictators and tyrants in this region.
ISIS, Iran, Assad, the Saudis and Erdogan. They are all still dead scared of the idea democracy and federalism could could work one day in this region. One day, not tomorrow, not in a year, but one day. And people proved over and over again that this is what so many of them want and are ready to demonstrate and even die for.
So thank you John Mc Ternan for these clear words!
The truth is that the US and UK left Iraq before it was ready, and they left for their own selfish, domestic political reasons. The ordinary Iraqis left behind have never abandoned hope – the turnout at the recent election was greater than the gridlocked Iraqi political class perhaps deserves, and showed a thirst for freedom. Supporting the Middle East’s second full democracy after Israel is still the noble cause it was when I was in No 10 working for Tony Blair, and when I worked in the prime minister’s office in Baghdad. Complex conflicts need strategic patience – the kind that won the cold war. It will take as least as long to rebuild Iraq as it took Saddam Hussein to destroy it.
There is no way that the UK can stand aside at Iraq’s moment of greatest need. We have a responsibility to those whose democracy we created. Those who are not utterly silent are sullen, muttering that Blair and Bush caused all this, that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq before 2003. Let’s be clear what that statement really is – bloodless, amoral pragmatism of the type Henry Kissinger excelled in. You might as well say: “Saddam may have been a fascist who inflicted genocide on the Kurds, but at least that kept Iran and the jihadists at bay.” That remark would have the merit of being honest.
The truth is that if we do not act now, we will surely act later. Having protected the freedom and autonomy of the Kurds since the Kuwait war, we cannot abandon them now, or leave them dependent on protection from Iran. We have to go back to Iraq to rescue democracy.