The recent debate at Harry’s Place about the antiwar movement reminded me of one of the most powerful arguments I read in support of the invasion of Iraq. It came in the form of an open letter to the peace movement from Rania Kashi, the daughter of Iraqi exiles, written shortly before the war began.
Kashi hurled all kinds of angry charges at the US and other western countries. The following could have come straight from the litany of those who opposed the invasion:
…I agree the American government is indeed big and bad; I have no illusions about its true intentions behind an attack on Iraq. The Iraqis have long known the ignorant and truly atrocious attitude of the American government towards most of the world’s population. Iraqis felt the effect of this when America (and other western countries) eagerly supported and supplied Saddam when he waged his war-of-attrition against Iran between 1980 and 1988, causing the death of 1 million Iraqis and Iranians and the disappearance of many more…
Iraqis also felt the effect of this attitude when America and the west ignored, supplied even, Saddam’s use of biological weapons on the people of Halabja in 1988, killing 5,000 people immediately, and causing the deformed births of children in the area to this day.
Iraqis knew well the untrustworthy nature of western governments when the coalition gave Saddam permission, a few days after the end of the Gulf war of 1991, to massacre the rising people after they had wrested control from him of most of Iraq’s cities.
In short, the people inside Iraq know the realities of American and western policy towards their country far better even than Iraqis outside – for they live with its realities every day.
But still. But still:
Of course it would be ideal if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force. That’s not on offer. The Iraqi people cannot wait until such a force materialises; they have been forced to take what they’re given. That such a force does not exist – cannot exist – in today’s world is a failing of the very people who do not want America to invade Iraq, yet are willing to let thousands of Iraqis die in order to gain the higher moral ground.
I say to them: do not continue to allow the Iraqi people to be punished because you are “unhappy” with the amount of power America is allowed to wield in a faulty world. Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority – when you allow a monster like Saddam to rule for thirty years without so much as protesting against his rule, you lose the right to such a claim.
Perhaps others had reasonable rebuttals to the points she raised. I didn’t, and I still don’t.