Comments on ABC Iraq Poll
Some readers have asked me about the finding that Iraqis generally think they are better off than during the Saddam era, but are very worried about the security situation. This finding doesn’t surprise me. Not only was life hell under Saddam, but the UN/US sanctions regime made Iraqis’ lives miserable. Insofar as the removal of Saddam also entailed the end of sanctions, most Iraqis have a double benefit. But it should not be forgotten that Iraqis are also generally quite annoyed that the US hasn’t done a better job on the security front.
I know that the subtext in US politics is always the politics around going to war. But it should be remembered that this consideration is irrelevant to Iraqis. The vast majority of Iraqis welcomed the end of the Baath regime. This simple fact does not justify the US invasion and occupation (or at least does not make clear why we don’t invade the Congo and the West Bank as well). It is just a reminder that world political realities are complex and ambiguous.
It is not necessary, in order to criticize the way the Bush administration prosecuted the Iraq War, to deny that the Baath regime was murderous. Murderous regimes need to be dealt with through international law and institutions. If you just grabbed an unconvicted murderer off the street and lynched him, you would be a murderer in your own right. Vigilanteism is not permitted to individuals; it should not be permitted to individual states, either.