Jackson Diehl writing in todays Wapo, seeks to retrospectively justify the Iraq war by making a number of ridiculous claims and assertions. Aside from his understating just how awful the US’ Iraq adventure was/is - ‘at best, a waste of American lives and resources, and at worst a monumental folly’ (for some reason the indigenous victims of Uncle Sam’s jaunt into Mesopotamia don’t figure in the negatives for Diehl) he astounds us with such pearls as, deposing autocrats in the middle east ‘will not happen peacefully‘. No shit Sherlock. He continues by informing readers that
‘Dictators such as Assad, Moammar Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, backed by mountains of weapons and armies bound to them by tribe or sect, prefer to fight to the death rather than quietly yield.’
Obviously. And Diehl not only demonstrates the idiocy of his earlier linkage of the current revolutions in the Middle East to the end of autocracy in central Europe (heres a clue Jackson – that took the disintegration of a massive benefactor) but he highlights an interesting point. One we shall come to later – Dictators and their weapons.
Diehl skims over the current state of the ‘Arab Spring’ and paints a decidedly horrific picture in the now and in the possible future (he has to do this for his thesis to work you see). We then get to the cream in this foam pie. That being that Iraq serves as a model of what Syria et al might aspire to be,
Its vicious dictator and his family are gone, as is the rule by a sectarian minority that required perpetual repression.
True and nothing to argue with there, except I may be mistaken but i didn’t notice any mention of Bahrain in Jackson’s piece. He has written about it in the past, but why ignore it now? Of course the fact that the US fifth fleet is stationed there may be besides the point for a man who earlier in the year described the nascent Arab Spring thus…
The most imminent threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East, however, is not war; it is revolution.
Diehl’s attempt to paint a rosy picture in Iraq by juxtaposing its body-count with that of Mexico and Syria demonstrates the length of his grasp…at these straws (33 civilians killed in Iraq in this month alone..and we’re only 10 days in).
He also claims that
Just as significantly, Iraq remains an ally of the United States, an enemy of al-Qaeda and a force for relative good in the Middle East
So it must be relatively good for the US that Iraq has sided with Iran and it’s support of the embattled Assad in Syria. Diehl continues his claims that the Iraq war was a good thing, by informing us that ‘It is buying $12 billion in U.S. weapons ‘. Well, I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t love a good invasion if you can get the resulting government you established to splash the cash on your armaments industry. And this brings us back to those dictators and their weapons. Exactly where do they get them?
Diehl continues with this gem…
Saddam Hussein demonstrated how he could handle a homegrown, Arab Spring-style rebellion when he used helicopter gunships to slaughter masses of Shiites in 1991.
A couple of issues here. First, the pathetic attempt to claim the Shia uprising in Iraq in 1991 is anywhere near the popular revolutions we are currently witnessing is pernicious to say the least. What we have witnessed this year are real spontaneous popular uprisings against dictators who the US thought were rock solid in their rule, which they of course helped to cement with arms and money. What occurred in Iraq in 1991 was an uprising of an oppressed population (shia) against a dictator, yes, but it was an uprising encouraged by the US (with radio broadcasts) against a dictator who they were led to believe was on his last legs and thus ripe for the picking. As we know this turned out not to be the case. Diehl informs us of that much, but he doesn’t mention the act of instigation and desertion by the US. He can’t you see, for his ridiculous thesis to have any hope of making sense. He finishes by writing -
The Arab Spring, in short, is making the invasion of Iraq look more worthy — and necessary — than it did a year ago.
No Jackson, the Arab revolutions are demonstrating that US hegemony and self-interest cannot trump the rights and desires of indigenous people forever. And it’s also serving a comedic value, as demonstrated by your latest article.