Ampersand is convinced that Iraq represents a catastrophic screw-up, and he’s pissed off at pro-war bloggers like myself for not admitting it.
Aside from the discrimination in favor of women’s suffering (“World Ends; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit”) , which can be explained readily by the admirable Burkean parochialism that makes Amp a good guy, I’m a little baffled at Amp’s post. But his candor and anger are real, and so I want to address him honestly.
Amp, on the war: “if it was fought to free Iraqis, then the effort has been a dismal failure…”
This just seems so radically out of touch to me that I don’t know how to address it. Amp presents the (very real) decline in the safety and level of privilege enjoyed by Iraqi women under Saddam as being the entire picture of the “freeing” of the Iraqis. On the question of safety, I think that we must concede the Iraqi security situation is not very good. But it is not the worst place in the world, either, and it has real prospects to improve.
As for the privilege: under Amp’s own expressed view of society, privilege bestowed by unjust social orders is not an entitlement. The Iraqi women who had “freedom” and standing in Hussein’s Iraq were privileged by their relative positions in a fascist hierarchy. It was the wife of the Ba’ath Party district chairman who walked the street in safety; the 17-year old Marsh Arab girl lived a life of terror. It is a damn shame that the wife’s position has fallen. for now, below what it should be under any society – of that let’s have no doubt. But nor can we forget what a brutal and unjust society it is that has been given a thorough shaking out.
Leftists like Amp advocate a radical overhaul of our own society, on the grounds that it too is brutal and unjust. They (generally) want peaceful means – but it’s a radical shaking out that they would have. Yet when a society that was inarguably a lot rougher than ours gets knocked around some, it’s a Huge Moral Outrage. Why such defensiveness of the privilege of the elites, without any articulation of the oppression visited on the underclasses?
I guess that in my view, I put a lot more weight on potential than I do on position. I think it’s better to be a struggling free society – even if you’ve been knocked back to square two on the great game board – than a relatively privileged but stultifyingly authoritarian thugocracy. Going from safe streets under Saddam to mean streets under whoever-the-hell-is-elected seems like a step in the right direction to me. I recognize that I don’t have to bear the risks of that directly, but it’s the choice I would make for my own country if the need arose, for whatever that’s worth.