The Iraq Effect

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Hitchens believes in it:

Can anyone imagine how the Arab spring would have played out if a keystone Arab state, oil-rich and heavily armed with a track record of intervention in its neighbors' affairs and a history of all-out mass repression against its own civilians, were still the private property of a sadistic crime family? As it is, to have had Iraq on the other scale from the outset has been an unnoticed and unacknowledged benefit whose extent is impossible to compute. And the influence of Iraq on the Libyan equation has also been uniformly positive in ways that are likewise often overlooked.

I really have no idea what Hitch is talking about.

The example of Iraq tainted the idea of democracy in the region and may well have postponed this reckoning, rather than aided it. And the indigenous pursuit of non-violence in Egypt and Tunisia as the path to democracy could not be more different than the external application of shock and awe, the use of torture (as a weapon for democracy!), and the chaotic, horrifying deaths of over a hundred thousand people.

Thus it is indeed rich to hear the unapologetic supporters of the Iraq war cite possible civilian casualties as the reason for intervening in Libya. Dennis Ross even claimed that 100,000 lives could have been lost in Banghazi. But roughly that number of civilians were killed while the US bore responsibility for internal security in Iraq. In that sense, we were as bad as Qaddafi if only in terms of gross negligence. And as for the regional effects of the Iraq war, it's clear that its empowerment of Iran's regime has led to the US' acquiescence in suppressing democracy in Bahrain.

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