16 Jun 2014

The Tragedy Wasn’t Invading Iraq, It Was Not Finishing the Job

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Battle of Omdurman, 2 September 1898.

I had words on Facebook with James Delingpole this morning, consisting of my dissenting from his agreement with Boris Johnson’s Telegraph editorial echoing the left-wing perspective that it was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power by a coalition of 49 countries led by the United States in 2003 which, eleven years later, is the cause of the latest outbreak of barbarians in that part of the world.

Boris the blonde (who obviously devoted his time at Oxford to partying and up-sucking, rather than critical reflection) faithfully parrots the international community of fashion’s articles of faith.

The truth is that we destroyed the institutions of authority in Iraq without having the foggiest idea what would come next. As one senior British general has put it to me, “we snipped the spinal cord” without any plan to replace it. There are more than 100,000 dead Iraqis who would be alive today if we had not gone in and created the conditions for such a conflict, to say nothing of the troops from America, Britain and other countries who have lost their lives in the shambles.

No, Boris, your “more than 100,000 dead Iraqis” figure is only a supposititious estimate cooked up for propagandistic purposes, and whatever quantity of Iraqis wound up as casualties in the course of opposing Coalition military operations or as incidental collateral damage was obviously not the fault of George W. Bush (or Tony Blair), but their own fault and the fault of Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Nationalist-Socialist leadership of that country which chose to adopt an extraordinarily belligerent and anti-Western posture and which defiantly undertook to violate an existing armistice agreement.

It is, moreover, obviously totally impossible to tell today just which and how many Iraqis might still be alive, absent the 2003 and invasion and the removal of that regime from power. Possibly some even greater number of Iraqis might have died at the hands of their own regime, in another major war instigated by Saddam, or via American retaliatory strikes after WMDs provided by Saddam’s regime to non-state jihadi actors were used to kill massive numbers of innocent Western civilians.

Many of the same countries participating in the 2003 invasion of Iraq previously participated in the 1944 invasion of Normandy aimed that the “destruction of institutions of authority” and “snip[ping] the spinal cord” of a highly similar regime to that of Saddam’s, erected in point of fact on the same foundation principles of (aggrieved) Nationalism and (militarist and despotic) Socialism. No one sheds a tear for the far more than 100,000 Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, and other Europeans slain in the course of opposing that coalition, nor for the many hundreds of thousands of civilians at that time intentionally targeted as the objects of strategic bombing.

The real differences, of course, reside in the much larger scale of WWII casualties and destruction, and in the thorough and completely ruthless post-war de-Nazification of the enemy.

The real tragedy in Iraq is that coalition efforts at regime change were too limited and piecemeal, too half-hearted and too confused in purpose. The WWII allies reduced their opponents to prostration and unconditional surrender, then occupied and ruled them for years, completely and fundamentally liberalizing, democratizing, and remodeling their cultures along our own lines. We attempted no such thing in Iraq, instead deluding ourselves with fantasies of being welcomed as liberators by friendly natives and trusting that the gift of democracy would in itself suffice to convert murderous and bigoted Mussulmen into bourgeois liberals.

It only required the setback of an unexpected Insurgency to unleash the hounds of treason and pacifism throughout Western intelligentsia circles. George W. Bush and his coalition allies found themselves far more effectively under attack from behind in the Times, the Post, and the Guardian than they ever were in Fallujah or Ramadi.

Boris Johnson would be right if he had attacked George W. Bush and Tony Blair for failing to put domestic traitors behind barbed wire and for not finishing the job, but when he accuses them of destroying some kind of legitimate authority or when he implies that Iraq would be better off under Saddam, he is just being a conformist tool and a complete ass.

9 Feedbacks on "The Tragedy Wasn’t Invading Iraq, It Was Not Finishing the Job"

Karen Myers (the wife)

Hear, hear!

jJames Nelson

The real tragedy was that the United States lost so much in human and financial resources due to hubris and historical blindness. The Muslims are not little brothers awaiting the baptism of western culture, they are fully formed 7th century barbarians.
We and the Europeans have, at times, interrupted their pastimes of tyranny, rape and slaughter by directing their attention to our military, but they always return to their ways as soon as we leave. Now they are back to killing each other in one frenzy or another.
They are ungovernable and unchangeable and their religion permits all of the ghastly behavior we have become accustomed. Nothing we can ever do will ever change this and we ignore the facts at our peril.


The tragedy was in spending any money and time to rebuild it. We should have gone in and killed Saddam, crushed his army and then appointed a strong dictator to run it and left.


About the liberators thing… the truth is .. A LOT of Iraqis cheered us exactly as that. They embraced our presence and joined our fight. Many Iraqis joined councils and voted and joined the US in reshaping their country in a westernized state.

The critics of the war never acknowledge these Iraqis and instead focus on the tribal leaders and cranks that, just like in our country, did all they could to get what they could and make trouble unless they got something for them and theirs.

Too often the State Dept and UN defer to the very people who have the worse instincts because they promise to control areas or groups of people. I don’t think it’s a Muslim thing or ME thing. It’s the corruption and shady-types that come out of the woodwork to influence outcomes and enrich themselves with money and control.

T. Shaw

Too bad it wasn’t 100,000,000 dead.

What’s not to like?

Muslims are killing muslims.

It doesn’t get any better.


Any solution that involves the fantasy of jailing US citizens is basically a retreat from reality, or at least a retreat of sufficient distance from the current terms of debate as to represent a desire to exit from the conversation. I sympathize.
I sense this is terms of both the Iraq and immigration debate here. The idea that “If only immigration was in a free economic and cultural environment, as it once was, rather than this current politically endemically corrupt one, then it would all be fine,” while both true in the abstract and tempting as a matter of principle, is so far removed from the actual situation as to make what was once conventional wisdom now seem unrealistic or, even more perversely, to objectively support political results that one deplores.
In other words, if democracy is so structured as to make it all but inevitable that the state will grow it becomes indistinguishable from the expansion of the state itself. If you perceive politically awakened masses as a howling irrational mob, then you conceive the dynamics of democratization as fundamentally degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption. The democratic politician and the electorate are bound together by a circuit of reciprocal incitement, in which each side drives the other to ever more shameless extremities of hooting, prancing cannibalism, until the only alternative to defensive emersion into this hot mess is to actually being eaten.
In this context, immigration is just throwing gasoline on the fire.

Howard Nelson

Our mistakes derive from ignorance of the 1000+ years of hatred between Sunnis and Shia.

Biden, bless his soul, years ago urged that Iraq be partitioned into Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish regions [Kurds being ethnically different than Sunni and Shia Arabs].

Oil-rich regions could have been likewise partitioned or their output allocated by population of the three groups — enforced by a Western military coalition if necessary.

Instead, we played nice with the murderers-of-millions of their fellow Muslims.
Stupidity has become our foreign policy; so rigid is that policy no wonder it translates to rigor mortis.


The idea, dream really, was to create a strong democratic Muslim state in a central position to stabilize the region. It had to be strong enough to counter Iran, that meant forcing the different tribes and sects to work together.

In many ways a much more difficult job than the US and the western allies had at the end of WWII to rehabilitate Japan and Germany, or South Korea later on.

Finally, the example of South Korea shows that many decades were needed to finish the job, to get past the inclination to follow a dictator or fall back into military rule. About forty years, give or take. Iraq had less than five. That might be George Bush’s failure, but it wasn’t George Bush’s plan.

Honestly, in 2003 when the ball started rolling downhill, how could George Bush (or anyone else) have seen the abomination that is Barak Obama coming?

Howard Nelson

It appears that the vast majority of of the Muslim males do not want democracy — democracy is antithetical to the absolutist teachings of the Koran, its long-accepted, now-frozen interpretations and Islamic traditions. It is apostasy, punishable by death, to promote democracy or even simply to depart from Sharia laws which enforce the culture’s religious rules.
Muslim women, subjugated for 100’s of years by Muslim men, have been conditioned to being treated as breeding stock, but may hold hope of breaking away from their servitude if enough ‘loud’ Western views break through via electronic media. If that ever happens, a war between the Muslim sexes will be extraordinarily horrific. I know, you ask, “What is ‘ordinarily’ horrific?” The answer is apparent in what/how Sunni/Shia men are mutilating and murdering each other now.

And we in the West, we will do little to stem the tides of Islamist tyranny and terror coming to our lands until we experience a catastrophe perhaps 10-fold what we experienced on 9/11 — it will take that much to wake us to proper self-defense and effective offense.

Look at the cave-ins in England, France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, … to the 5-10% of the population that is passionately Islamist/Jihadist.


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