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Naylor: Iraq, Evil and the Coming Fight

June 27, 2011

Soldiers cover a statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag.

It’s been roughly eight years since Marine Corporal Ed Chin draped an American flag over a statue of Saddam Hussein before the statue came crashing to the ground. The world press, resting at the Palestine Hotel across the street, compared the event to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the defeat of that evil.

Two things came from this event – first, the Marine Corporal’s sister, “Connie”, was invited onto the “Today” show, and second, coalition military victory was proclaimed as inevitable.

In the past eight years, confidence in Operation Iraqi Freedom has plummeted. An August 2010 poll done by CBS News revealed that 59 percent of Americans felt that the U.S. “did not do the right thing by going to war with Iraq”. That number is even higher in Toronto, where I reside currently.

Four years ago, I probably would have toed the non-interventionist line. The reason that I, and many others, became interventionists was because we considered how the world would look had our viewpoint prevailed. What follows is an uncomfortable moment as you begin to realize what kind of world that would be.

Had non-interventionism won out, Hussein would have successfully annexed Kuwait City and removed a member of the Arab League and the United Nations. In Europe, Milošević would have, with no opposition, added Bosnia to the Serbian state and Kosovo would have been subject to ethnic cleansing. In Afghanistan, the Taliban would have still been in power, with the tacit support and aid of Al-Qaeda’s network throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Finally, Iraq would still be under the fascistic theocratic control of a genocidal crime family.

Thankfully, because voices of courage won out, this didn’t happen but let’s look at a place in the world where non-interventionist bleating was rampant – Rwanda. Human Rights Watch, which has often played to soft anti-Americanism, puts the death toll at 500, 000 in just 100 days. Others suggest it may be as 1, 000, 000, or 20% of the Rwandan population.

Yet for the last eight years, among the activists, it has been those who support humanitarian intervention who have been treated as butchers. Ladies and gentlemen, my suggestion is a simple one – if I had the record of the non-interventionists, I would be awfully shy about accusing anyone of being complicit in murder.

Canadian leftists have shamefully abandoned their socialist, secularist and feminist brothers and sisters in Iraq. We had, in Iraq, a regime that directly modeled itself off the National Socialist regime in Germany in the 1940’s. We had a psychotic butcher who borrowed his moustache from the Georgian bureaucrat known to the world as Stalin.

Hussein’s Iraq was best described by the brilliant dissident Kanan Makiya, in his masterpiece, as the republic of fear.

This was a dictator who didn’t just torture political opponents, he made their families watch. Then he made their families applaud. Ultimately, if he executed you, he would bill your family for the bullets.

This was a state where the crime for owning a cell phone was a slow and brutal death. This was a state where special prisons were built for the rape of young women. This was a state where mass graves were buried because it was considered too costly to give children a proper burial.

There is a tendency in civilized society to avoid conflict. We have developed, and fine-tuned, justice systems that give the beaten down a fair shake. It is hard, naturally, for many of us to understand what it must be like to spend a moment in a regime like Baathist Iraq. It is much easier to say it’s an American war, ignoring the decades of calls for intervention in Iraq. Often these calls came from the women of Iraq, who were beaten and crushed by this monster and his Tikrit Mafia.

When the Liberal Party of Canada said no to the liberation of Iraq, the language was so cheaply anti-American. It is difficult to imagine Chretien shed a tear for the Kurdish minority, some 180, 000 of whom, at minimum, were gassed. As tempting as it is to turn away from this proto-fascist theocracy, rested between Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Shi’a Iran, we have to face regimes like this or be prepared for, what Ronald Reagan called, a thousand years of darkness.

We are painfully, unbearably lucky to live in a society where you can criticize the President or leader. In Saddam’s Iraq, he ordered one half of his cabinet to shoot the other half just to show them who’s the boss.

President Bush was right not to call this an axis of unpleasant. This sort of conduct is evil and radical evil at that. That’s how I began this article and it’s how I should like to end it. This is a pure form of evil, and is so chillingly uninterrupted by human guilt.

It is quite exhausting to have to explain these horrors at every discourse on the Iraq or Afghan liberations. For those of us who are interventionists, however, we do it anyway. Partly to cleanse ourselves as we know the human price if the so-called “anti-war” movement wins out. For the Marsh Arabs, a persecuted minority in south and east Iraq, the price of Hussein’s rule was a population reduction from half a million to twenty thousand in just fifty years. In addition, this ancient civilization saw the planned demolition of the largest wetlands in the Middle East. This ranks as one of the great environmental crimes of human history.

Leftist ideology in the modern era often stems from a feminist, secularist and democratic tendency. My proposal is that left-wingers, such as myself, intend that to apply to everyone. Why do we hold massive aid concerts in urban cities for the oppressed of Africa but not the Middle East? As an interventionist, and an African with Arab blood, I have struggled with this question many times.

Ultimately, evil exists and evil is not fond of staying to itself. In Iran, we have a regime with courts that measure a woman’s worth as a third of a man. This regime believes the messiah will return to remove Jews, Christians and false claimants to Muhammad’s legacy. This regime wants to acquire weaponry capable of ending civilization. As with Iraq, there will be cowards who blame the United States for this conflict. Yet evil, for all it’s apologists, must be confronted.

The price will be great but it is worth it. To preserve a culture that treats women equally, that respects minority rights, that values democratic freedoms, we must be willing and able to fight. In Madrid, in New York City, in London, they know that fight. They have felt that sacrifice already. The Canadian response must not be the lazy anti-American nonsense about “Washington crusades”. The left, at present, occupies an unsustainable foreign policy position, where they value peace over progress and resolution over constitutions. This post won’t hold. Sooner or later, with a nuclear Iran and a Saudi state stuck in the dark ages, one side will win. A grovel will win you a vote now but in the battle of civilization, it is worthless and history does not reward those who grovel.

We’ve got to be ready for the coming battle. The parties of hate are preparing for a big scrap and we’ve got to meet them in the arena. If we fail here, that which we love, that which we care for, may meet a swift and bloody end.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2011 4:32 pm

    “The human rights abuses occurring in some parts of the world are putting the rest of the world in danger because intolerance, in its hegemonic insularity, seeks to impose its intolerant truth on others. Yet for some reason we’re incredibly reluctant to call to account the intolerant countries who abuse their citizens, and instead hide behind silencing concepts like cultural relativism, domestic sovereignty, or root causes. These are concepts that excuse intolerance. Silence in the face of intolerance means that intolerance wins.”

    “But 65 years later, we still haven’t learned the most important justice lesson of all – to try to prevent the abuses in the first place. All over the world, in the name of religion, national interest, economic exigency, or sheer arrogance, men, women and children are being murdered, abused, imprisoned, tortured, and exploited. With impunity.”

    “Is subsequent justice really an adequate substitute for justice?”

    -Justice Rosalie Abella

  2. Zach Morgenstern permalink
    June 27, 2011 11:45 pm

    The problem with this analysis is that it assumes that there is good and evil in the world rather than a more complex scale. While their were some historical details that I’d question (eg your reference to Yugoslavia- and your implication that Saddam Hussein he was a theocrat when one of the few good things about him was that he secularized the Iraqi debate), the problem with supporting neoconservatism is not that intervention is bad (though it often does blow up), but that intervention by certain people is bad. Bush didn’t intervene in Iraq to liberate a people, he went in to help his friends at Halliburton and Lockeed Martin steal oil from the Iraq and benefit from the military industrial complex. Why would our leaders want to give democracy to a country when they clearly don’t care about it most of the time and if anything would feel more comfortable working with a puppet dictator liked Abdullah? Think of it this way- if instead of us it was a group of Islamic fundamentalists who wanted to overthrow dictatorships and introduce democracy would you trust them? Thats why I don’t trust the capitalist-western powers in wars of intervention. Saddam was a maniac, but at least he was Iraq’s maniac.

    • June 28, 2011 12:17 am

      The thing is that the top neocons, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz truly believed in the notion that you can free a nation through military force, and establish a democracy.

      The oily stuff was for Cheney for the most part, who was hardly a neocon.

      Watch “The Power of Nightmares”. It’s a rather eye-opening documentary on neoconservatism as an ideology, the influences of Leo Strauss, and what role they played in the cold war as well. A neocon truly believes that they can export democracy via use of force, and are belligerent in their promotion of liberal democracy abroad.

      Currently, the term “neocon” is thrown around by the left and the right as a way of playing the game of “us versus them”. The term has lost all meaning, similar to how the word “socialist” has lost its true meaning over time to the public or like how “liberal” means “socialist” in America.

  3. June 28, 2011 12:20 am

    I completely Agree with the comment left by Zach Morgenstern. If Iraq (or even Libya)’s main export was Broccoli do you really think there would be the need to intervene as it would be the right thing to do to protect citizens from being killed by the government? If that is the case why hasn’t the western world intervened in THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS of our GENERATION. Democratic Congo. Since 1998, 5.4 MILLION people have died. An estimated 44,000 DIE each month. And yet the Imperialist Capitalist nations of the Developed world sit back and watch while siphoning oil from Iraq and Libya.

    If you are so adamant about intervening. Then the international community should intervene in something worthwhile such as Congo to prevent the suffering of millions of Congolese who have been in the grasps of Western Imperialist dictatorship since Belgian King Leopold annexed the territory to become his own personal colony where he took the Congo’s rich resources and slaughtered 10 Million Congolese cutting the population in half in just 40 years.

  4. June 30, 2011 2:31 pm

    This is one of the most naiive and simplistic analysis I have ever read. I will respond later in full perhaps.

  5. Sabaa permalink
    July 4, 2011 5:58 pm

    If the US really cared about liberating the Iraqis, then they wouldn’t have supported them during the Iran-Iraq war. Even while Hussein was killing Kurds in the late 80s, the US administration refused to issue sanctions to Iraq. Self-interest nearly always trumps idealism when it comes to US interventionism.

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