Blogs > Liberty and Power > Iraq, Then and Now

Jul 17, 2004 1:19 pm

Iraq, Then and Now

[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]

Before the fall of communism, Republicans were fond of pointing out that people were risking their lives to get out of communist countries, and risking their lives to get in to capitalist countries. This, they insisted, was all one needed to know in order to evaluate the respective merits of the two systems.

Interestingly, the Republicans have been remarkably slow to appeal to that test lately -- perhaps because this time the results would not favour their position.

As Lew Rockwell points out, in the days of Saddam Hussein"people from all over the region wanted to come to Iraq"; by contrast, under the American puppet régime"those who come are there for jihad, while the flow otherwise runs in the opposite direction."

And that's no surprise. Iraq under Hussein was one of the most liberal societies in the Arab world. Of course that isn't saying much, and it's quite consistent with the undeniable truth that Hussein was a murderous, dictatorial thug. The fact that most Iraqis were better off under that murderous, dictatorial thug than they are under the American occupation is a shameful indictment of U.S. foreign policy.

Those of a Panglossian disposition may insist that Iraq's current wretched condition is merely temporary, a result of the war, and that in a short while, once the last pockets of resistance have been stamped out, it will become a shining, free, prosperous oasis to which immigrants will eagerly flow. Soviet apologists were saying the same thing about Russia for seventy years.

But what is the plan for achieving this miracle? As La Boétie and Hume have taught us, no ruler can maintain power by force alone. And as Rockwell reminds us, Hussein didn't. But the U.S. is trying to. Only failure can result.

Charles Dunoyer began his career as a dissident journalist bitterly attacking the reigning monarchy in France. After its overthrow, the excesses of its republican and imperial successors eventually led him to call for the monarchy's restoration. I used to attribute this to a weakening of Dunoyer's libertarian principles, and to some extent I still think it was. But I understand how he felt.

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Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

No, this isn't a defense of Modernism. For one thing, I'm basically a Pre-Modernist. In my lexicon what Modernists call the Enlightenment was an Endarkenment, a blotting out of the healthy culture of Christendom by proudly arrogant servants of the Adversary.

As any proper student of European history realizes, there was no European Dark Age. That phrase is deceitful propaganda, as was recently confirmed in new studies of post-Roman Britain. Contrary to the old notion that Britain descended into a Dark Age, it did not. The villas, as did commerce and towns, continued for many years to thrive until finally gradually swamped by the invading Saxons. Also, the monasteries continued to thrive for many years and Christianity became more deeply and widely entrenched in the British Isles.

Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Mark Safranski is right on target. For verification by an Iraqi go to

Thomas W Hagedorn - 7/22/2004

If Long wants to defend Saddam's Iraq as "one of the most liberal societies in the Arab world", well have at it. It appears to me that is a bit like saying that say, Kenya, is one of the wealthiest nations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Can Iraq build a society that in anyway resembles the western demcoracies? I don't know. But why shouldn't we try? Does Long not believe that Germans or Japanese are not better off because of our nation-building in mid-century? Things were quite shaky in 1946 as well.

Long may, and apparently does, disagree with the attack on Iraq, but the fact remains that Iraq was attacked for national security purposes, not because of Saddam's inherent evil. 3,000 of Lomg's fellow citizens were murdered on 9-11 because of who they were (Americans, capitalists and Jews - Al Quida felt they would get a lot of Jews in our financial capital), not anything they did. They would gleefully kill anyone on this list-serve if they had the chance - whether they are pro or con on the war.

If our nation has good evidence (they thought they did at the time) that a nation is cooperating with terrorists who might kill 10,000 or 100,000 the next time, we have the right to take very severe action, including invasion and regime-change if that is deemed as the best course. That is why Kerry voted to authorize the war and Bush attacked. That is why Kerry is not saying that he would leave Iraq, only that the effort should be internationalized. (With one nation after another caving in the terrorism against civilians, can he explain how he is going to do that? Or does he perhaps have a "secret plan" to end the war....surrender and withdrawal.)

By the way, please note Libya's sudden about face on WMD and terrorism. They took note of the regime change in Iraq and Afganistan.

mark safranski - 7/20/2004

How is "liberal" in any way consistent with auto-genocide ? Or totalitarianism, which was the state structure of the Baath under Saddam.

I think what you mean is " modern " or " secular " where I'd have to agree. Traditional Arab-Islamic mores were suppressed by Saddam ( literally when he was secret police chief and vice-president under al-Bakr) until he began to draw on pan-Islamic gestures to shore up his nationalist regime in the 1980's and 1990's.