Sunday, August 28, 2005


'So they went up to the mountains, to behold the gardens and orchards, the vineyards and fountains of water; where also they drank and washed themselves, and did freely eat of the vineyards' (on the Delectable Mountains of Bunyan's Christian odyssey.)

It's holiday time, and it seems the columnists I most admire, Steyn and Hitchens, are using it to take a step back and reflect on Iraq. Steyn is focussing on the Iraqi constitution. He takes on the glass-three-quarters empty crew who are obsessing that, among other issues for BUsh's legacy, 'Iraqi women were better off under Saddam'. Killer point-

'So what do we find in Article 151 of the Iraqi constitution?

"No less than 25 percent of Council of Deputies seats go to women."

I'm not a great fan of quotas but for purposes of comparison, after two-and-a-quarter centuries, in the United States Senate, 14 percent of the seats are held by women.'

Indeed. But, speaking of killers, it's worth saying that the argument that women were somehow protected by Saddam is a fairly stupid one. I recall seeing a C4 documentary chronicling the mass beheading of a group of women in Baghdad central by Saddam's henchmen- as an example to society. This report I think refers to many similar incidents (not, I think, as I thought initially, that particular one- I thought it a hopeless task searching for one of the few pro-Iraq war Channel Four broadcasts). Even the BBC reported, from a part of the Governement's dossier that seems undisputed that 'Under Saddam Huseein's regime women lack even the basic right to life. A 1990 decree allows male relatives to kill a female relative in the name of honour without punishment.

Women have been tortured, ill-treated and in some cases summarily executed too, according to Amnesty International.'

While this is straightforward stuff, it's been largely forgotten. That doesn't put Steyn off much though- an overwhelmingly positive article.

Meanwhile, Hitchens pulls off that rare feat- an article with which I hardly have a point of disagreement. Simply a wonderful defense of the case for the Iraq war- though not always the case that has been presented to us. Rather simlar to a case I attempted to make in a recent post at Biased BBC, basically the opponents of the war must assay some realism in their view of what the world would be like now without the Iraq war more than two years ago. Hitch nails it excellently:

'Anyone with the smallest knowledge of Iraq knows that its society and infrastructure and institutions have been appallingly maimed and beggared by three decades of war and fascism (and the "divide-and-rule" tactics by which Saddam maintained his own tribal minority of the Sunni minority in power). In logic and morality, one must therefore compare the current state of the country with the likely or probable state of it had Saddam and his sons been allowed to go on ruling.

At once, one sees that all the alternatives would have been infinitely worse, and would most likely have led to an implosion--as well as opportunistic invasions from Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective interests or confessional clienteles. This would in turn have necessitated a more costly and bloody intervention by some kind of coalition, much too late and on even worse terms and conditions. This is the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda yesterday, and of Darfur today. When I have made this point in public, I have never had anyone offer an answer to it. A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.'

Strange, to return to Bunyan, that Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. Truly it's a postmodern world, but with some seriously real battles to fight.

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