Friday, March 24, 2006
IRAQ THEN AND NOW
nother great essay from Hitchens this week, wherein he finally gives in to the temptation of all armchair generals, and elaborates on how he would have conducted an ideal campaign to liberate Iraq. In setting the stage for his alternative history exercise, he points to an article being referenced from various quarters the past few days -- a very long piece in Foreign Affairs magazine, written by the authors of a recently partially declassified report on the inner workings of the Saddam regime, based on primary source documentation and interviews with regime officials. The study was a two year project, and the article presents the key findings. One of the most interesting nuggets turned up in searching it for a "Blessed July" reference mentioned on Washington Journal this week:
The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.It's quite strange, the way accepted conventional wisdom these days (if you watch and read the major media powers) states that Saddam never had anything to do with terrorism. That was categorically and objectively false, even before the latest document releases, yet so many people now accept that as gospel truth. Read the quoted paragraph again, and if you have some spare time, read the entire piece.
But back to Hitchens' alternative history. He doesn't put himself in the place of Bush or Gen. Franks, but imagines a more honourable response by other powers, to President Bush's speech at the UN on Sept. 12, 2002. True solidarity with the long suffering Iraqi people should have dictated the unity and principle that he dreams could have transpired -- and should have.
Not a huge amount to ask, when you think about it. But what did the president get instead? The threat of unilateral veto from Paris, Moscow, and Beijing. Private assurances to Saddam Hussein from members of the U.N. Security Council. Pharisaic fatuities from the United Nations' secretary-general, who had never had a single problem wheeling and dealing with Baghdad. The refusal to reappoint Rolf Ekeus—the only serious man in the U.N. inspectorate—to the job of invigilation. A tirade of opprobrium, accusing Bush of everything from an oil grab to a vendetta on behalf of his father to a secret subordination to a Jewish cabal. Platforms set up in major cities so that crowds could be harangued by hardened supporters of Milosevic and Saddam, some of them paid out of the oil-for-food bordello.Of course the last bit is a re-working of a famous old quote about strangling the last king with the entrails of the last priest. Personally I have nothing against either priests or kings, in principle. I live in a country with a very admirable examples of both. I have plenty of reason to be against the suicide-murderers -- and as for the phony pacifists who made up the bulk of the "global demonstrations" last weekend, they aren't pacifists at all. They are simply on the other side.
Well, if everyone else is allowed to rewind the tape and replay it, so can I. We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.