At the risk of turning this weblog into a fan-site, Johann Hari has yet another well-aimed piece in the Indie today about the ‘looting and anarchy’ in Baghdad.
The sound of smashing and trashing from the chaos in Baghdad is being drowned out in Britain by the gloating of the most hardline “peace” protesters. A friend of mine who was downcast at the cheering of the Iraqi people on Liberation Day – “it’s all going to end in tears, Johann” – called yesterday in much higher spirits. “You see? It’s anarchy!” It was a bit odd that my friend was saying this as proof that things have gone wrong, since he is in fact an anarchist – but let that pass. “This is what we said would happen! Chaos! Disaster! Civil war! Would you rather be in Baghdad today, or under Saddam last year? Eh? Hmmm?”
Johann’s friend happens to be an anarchist. Anarchists, of course, have been known to see looting as an act of rebellion against oppression, except it seems when it is Iraqis enjoying their moment of rebellion after liberation from such oppression. I have no doubt that as well as the anarchos, the ‘revolutionaries’ of the ultra-left would ‘defend’ mass looting in Oxford Street, even if, as so often in the UK, it was students and lifestyle choice drop-outs rather than oppressed masses, who were doing the looting. Yet now they are tut-tutting at the Iraqi looting. These are the same ‘revolutionaries’ who have spent the past months dressed up as the defenders of international law and order, opposing the liberation of Iraq as illegal. The Trotskyite left as the defenders of property, privilige, law and order.
Of course no-one could feel anything other than sadness at the looting of musuems and hospitals, but as for the rest of it, I agree with Hari when he writes: Once the straitjacket of Baathist tyranny was loosened, there was always going to be some lashing out. Indeed, much of what we have been seeing is a spontaneous redistribution of wealth from the disgusting, corrupt élite who thrived under Saddam towards the wider population. Very few of the people with riches in Iraq today possess them because they have worked hard, or have any skill or talent. They have comfortable houses and stocked fridges because they were especially willing to point out the “disloyalty” of their fellow Iraqis.
I just hope that in the ransacking of ministries the documents that details the orders of torture and executions have not been lost – they will be needed if the new Iraq is to be able to deal out justice to those responsible for the suffering in the reccent past.