George W. Bush’s horrific, deadly blunder: Would Saddam Hussein be better than Iraq’s new hell?Roundup
tags: Saddam Hussein, George Bush
... My fondest hope is that one of our very oldest ideas now teeters near collapse. I have already mentioned it: It is the evangelism named in the last century (and hatched by a Presbyterian minister’s son) as Wilsonianism. Put this in the past and we will instantly make the world none other than safer.
There is a lesson here that draws from the more recent past. I have taken to naming it the Tito Thesis.
Remember Marshal Tito? He was a distinguished anti-Nazi German partisan and went on to govern Yugoslavia from 1953 until his death in 1980. He was commonly demonized as another East European despot, but in the upper reaches it was understood to be more complex. Tito stood among those flawed giants of the independence generation: Mossadegh, Sukarno, the four “Ns,” as I call them — Nehru, Nasser, Nyerere, Nkrumah. He stood up to the Soviets as well as the Americans, and his true sin, as with the others, was his insistent non-alignment.
Tito was tough when he had to be, which was often. But he kept Yugoslavia Yugoslavia, primarily by making sure all the bitter communal animosities were balanced in the sharing of power. Anyone who had no taste for Tito might look to what came after him and consider the man again.
The thesis is simply stated, then. Strongmen are sometimes strongmen for a reason, and they are not to be fooled with capriciously, and certainly not without a thorough analysis of what is likely to follow.
Take the Tito Thesis to Iraq and where does it land you? This is bitter indeed, especially at our moment, but it forces reconsideration of Saddam. I know no one inclined to apologize for his numerous cruelties against the Kurds and the Shiite majority, among much else. But he kept Iraq Iraq, under the Ba’athists’ secular ideology (a variant of Nasserite socialism).
I can hardly make my fingers move across the keys as I ask this: Better or worse, what Americans did to post-Saddam Iraq? All the sectarian viciousness was there to see as Bush sent the troops into battle. But Bush was all ideological fervor, little thought. There was no apparent understanding of the snakes that were to crawl out of the baskets.
As to Nuri al-Maliki and his brand of Shiite chauvinism, I do not see he meets Tito Thesis standards. He is now in a very bad place, and having landed him in it Washington may owe him something. Obama’s best move would be to pay on this debt only when al-Maliki begins unity negotiations — not just with the Kurds but with credible representatives of the Shiites, irrespective of al-Maliki’s taste (or Washington’s) for what they will bring to the table...
comments powered by Disqus
- "Great Replacement" Shows how Many Americans Have Embraced Whites-Only Democracy
- Margaret Atwood: I Created Gilead, but the Supreme Court Might Make it Real
- "Great Replacement" Rhetoric has not Historically Been Out of Place in the Halls of Power
- Montpelier Board Appoints 11 Members from Descendants Committee
- Zemmour Acquitted of Holocaust Denial after Crediting Nazi Collaborator with Saving Jews
- Isaac Chotiner Interviews Kathleen Belew on White Power and the Buffalo Mass Shooting
- What if Mental Illness Isn't All In Your Head?
- Nursing Clio Project Connects Health, Gender and History
- Historian Leslie Reagan on the History of Abortion and Abortion Rights
- Mellon Foundation Event: Chinese American History, Asian American Experiences (May 19)