. . . the narrative gets a bit less gratifying.
I haven’t commented on recent developments in Lebanon and Egypt, partly because I’m really busy, partly because I knew even less about the situation there than Iraq, and partly because I’m still mulling things over. My initial impression is that a lot of commentators have completely lost their minds.
I think it’s fair to say that on the plus side of the invasion of Iraq is the possibility of some better future for Iraqis, along with other goods like the restoration of the Iraqi marshes (which I’m always going on about). I don’t buy the silly Chomsky line that Iraqis could have managed this themselves. Sometimes dictators are too brutal, and their grip on a country too firm, to realistically hope for much in the short, or medium term. The choice was between Saddam Hussein for the long haul or an American invasion. I think the costs of the latter outweighed, and will outweigh over the longer haul, the costs of the former. But at least the possibility of hope for Iraqis is a real gain of the invasion.
As for the other effects of the invasion, it seems a real stretch to say that the spectacle of a country being forcibly occupied on a trumped up pretext and then getting, eventually, a deeply flawed election (much of the blame for the flaws resting, of course, with the insurgency) against the desires of the occupiers who have a transparent agenda of using that country to extend and consolidate their control of the entire region . . . well, as much as I admire the Iraqis who voted, and wish them well, it seems a stretch to say that this is the great democratic catalyst that the region was waiting for.
But suppose that the invasion of Iraq was a democratic catalyst for the region. I’m still haunted by the crazy idea that the Bush administration could have figured out how to pressure the Mubarak regime into promising fairer elections or the Syrians to claim that they would pull out from Lebanon without killing so many goddamn people. It is very nice to see the Bush administration aligned with progressive forces in the region, however temporarily and opportunistically. But it is not nice – not nice at all – to hear people crowing about how an invasion of Iraq was necessary in order for the Bush administration to get off its silly ass and bring its rhetoric ever so slightly more into alignment with its practice. Because it wasn’t, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or suffers from a terrible lack of imagination.
What is even worse than the idea that recent developments vindicate the plan to invade Iraq is the idea that they vindicate the particular war and occupation we actually got. Reading some of the stupider voices in the media and the blogosphere, I really get the impression that some people think the last few weeks has permanently vindicated, say, the war planning of Donald Rumsfeld, or the judgment and integrity of the men and women behind the torture scandals in Iraq and elsewhere. It hasn’t. It couldn’t.
Howls of outrage (2)