Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Monday, October 13, 2003

Here's an article from The Observer that is certainly critical of Bush and Blair but is also critical of the anti-war crowd, it notes:
From the very beginning, the anti-war lobby has refused to listen to those Iraqis who supported war over continued tyranny. Banners saying 'Freedom for Iraq' were confiscated at anti-war rallies and photographs of Halabja, where Saddam gassed 5,000 Kurdish civilians, were seized. No voice was given to people such as Freshta Raper, who lost 21 relatives in Halabja and wanted to ask: 'How many of you have asked an Iraqi mother how she felt when forced to watch her son being executed? How many know that these mothers had to applaud as their sons died? What is more moral: freeing an oppressed, brutalised people from a vicious tyrant or allowing millions to continue suffering indefinitely?' (Emphasis added)

I am not trying to be emotive here, the above account is not some isolated incident, it is not an over-dramatization of the rare exception, no, this was the rule in Iraq. This was systemic. It continues to amaze me that leading politicians continue to be critical of the removal of Saddam Hussein. Of course there many are dictators in the world, and we cannot remove them all, but that is no excuse for not removing them when the opportunity presents itself. It is hard for me to understand the perspective that the world is a worse place now that Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to his own people and stability in the region. So many lives will be so much better off as this thought from a university lecturer in Baghdad conveys, "I feel as if I have been born again. Iraq was a prison above ground and a mass grave beneath it."
He is not alone, so many others have now been born again, they have a chance at life, a chance at thinking and expressing their own thoughts, a chance to be human. Most importantly though Iraqi parents and children's fears of future imprisonment have been replaced by hope of a brighter future. Regardless of what you think about this war, the end result is millions of human beings are now free, this is an objective fact and one the free world should be proud of, as The Observer piece goes on:
For the first time in almost half a century, Iraq has no executions, no political prisoners, no torture and almost no limits on freedom of expression. Having a satellite receiver no longer means imprisonment or even death. There are almost 200 newspapers and magazines that require no police permit and suffer no censorship, and more than 70 political parties and dozens of NGOs. Old professional associations have held elections and new associations have sprung up. People can demonstrate freely - and do.

Unemployment is still a huge problem, but more people have jobs and salaries have risen both for qualified people seeking work in the private sector and for civil servants. Shops are overflowing with imported goods. Food prices are lower thanin Saddam's last years. In Baghdad, the electricity is on more often than off. (In Lebanon, that took years to achieve.) More Iraqi policemen are on the streets, directing traffic, guarding buildings and enforcing the law. Approximately 85 per cent of primary and secondary schools have reopened. Outside Baghdad, security and services are better and crime is lower.

Western reporters detail, quite properly, the misdeeds, the crimes even, of the occupying forces. But this is only part of the story. 'The behaviour of US occupation troops has indeed at times been unacceptable, but on many more occasions it has been innocuous,' says Mustafa Alrawi, managing editor of English-language weekly Iraq Today.

Much criticism has been leveled at the Bush administration for "winning the war but not the peace" or "not having a plan" for post-war occupation. This criticism would carry much more validity though if critics could actually point to an example of a nation whose outlaw regime was deposed and then converted into a functioning democracy in six months time. General MacArthur and General Lucious Clay did not have clear ideas on how to rebuild post-war Japan, but they learned from experience, they made changes on the fly, improvised and eventually succeeded. It was not easy and it took time as Germany surrendered in 1945, but did not hold federal elections until 1949. Given the historical perspective of conquer and occupation, it would seem to me that post-war Iraq is, actually, doing particularly well.


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