politics, history and the war on terror
Friday, April 02, 2004
Beyond Fallujah 

In today’s WSJ, Christopher Hitchens asks broader questions about the nature of the gruesome murders in Fallujah of the four US citizens working for a private security firm. He notes that the conditions in Iraq were leading towards the creation of not only a depraved state, but a depraved population.

But this "Heart of Darkness" element is part of the case for regime-change to begin with. A few more years of Saddam Hussein, or perhaps the succession of his charming sons Uday and Qusay, and whole swathes of Iraq would have looked like Fallujah. The Baathists, by playing off tribe against tribe, Arab against Kurd and Sunni against Shiite, were preparing the conditions for a Hobbesian state of affairs. Their looting and beggaring of the state and the society--something about which we now possess even more painfully exact information--was having the same effect. A broken and maimed and traumatized Iraq was in our future no matter what.

Fallujah is a reminder, not just of what Saddamism looks like, or of what the future might look like if we fail, but of what the future held before the Coalition took a hand.

He also asks questions of the opponents of the Iraq War, and encounters the same response as has been experienced by many defenders of the war: silence, evasion and misdirection.

I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered. Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was inevitable or not? Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better? Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March? Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke's word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York? Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf War"? Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us? Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?

The last question raises an interesting point. Iraq’s unique position in the Middle East guaranteed that we would have to address this problem at some point in the future. As al Qaeda has shown, the mentality and brutality of violent ideologies will eventually butt heads with America, as we are their natural enemy. America was stuck on 9/11 because we fought al Qaeda on its terms. The decision to fight Iraq now rather than later was prudent. We already know the consequences of fighting an enemy on his terms.

Posted by bill roggio @ 11:01 AM