It’s time to put on the perspective-correction spectacles again.
Christopher Hitchens argues that recent unpleasant events are a warning of what will happen if the liberation of Iraq fails. Oliver Kamm is re-examining his reasons for supporting military action, saying no outcome would cause him to question his original justification. Glenn Reynolds monitors people who are offering a whole range of explanations. Oddly, the best The Independent‘s Robert “Quagmire” Fisk can do is to claim that Iraq is only “on the brink of anarchy“. (I think he’s suffering from wolf-crying fatigue.) Two of my calm, sane pro-war friends Claire and Judith are deeply worried.
I’m not. I’m certainly not happy about what is happening, though. I grew up intermittently hearing my dad tell stories of real and attempted coups d’état—apparently a popular recreational activity for young army officers in West Africa throughout the 60s and 70s. This isn’t even a failed coup; it certainly isn’t civil war. All that’s going on in Iraq is that a bunch of fanatics and looters have got their knickers in a twist because they’re unemployed, non-specifically resentful (of a specific and convenient foreign target) and have access to AK47s and rocket-propelled grenades. A large proportion of the rabble are more interested in picking up a slightly used PC than overthrowing the Yankee oppressor.
Bush is committed to finishing the job in exactly the way his father was not. Tony Blair is standing by him, his eyes retaining their scarily convinced stare. And we have precedents. Sierra Leone is one. It was recently described by the UN as the poorest country in the World and by the not-famously-hyperbolic Economist as “the worst place to live on the planet”. It’s better now, thanks to humanitarian military intervention. All the hellish ingredients were there too: mischievous neighbours, “organised” terror against the civilian population, economic disaster, and lots of weapons.
Stability came despite the kidnapping of 11 British soldiers in 2000, after the collapse of a peace deal and the capture of hundreds of UN peacekeepers’ weapons, despite interference from the delightful Charles Taylor and despite the presence of tens of thousands of drug-crazed, gun- and machete-wielding psychos wandering around in country that makes Iraq look like Regent’s Park on a mild Spring morning.
So why the hysteria about Iraq now? The World’s media hardly gave a shit about Sierra Leone, except insofar their trying to save its people embarrassed the Blair government. And, even when the journos did care, no one paid any attention to their reports. By comparison, the situation in Iraq is a storm in a teacup, but one being observed through powerful magnifying lenses by people who have been forecasting a hurricane for two years and are yet to feel a splash of rain.
UPDATE: An Economist leader writer obviously read PooterGeek last night before filing this.
UPDATE: I swear I didn’t read Mark Steyn either before I put digit to keyboard.