Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Iraq's problems existed long before 2003. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

Iraq's problems existed long before 2003. - By Christopher Hitchens

Replying to Fareed Zakaria's observation in Newsweek, about Iraq and the Iraqis—that "We did not give them a republic. We gave them a civil war."—Charles Krauthammer, in our common sister paper the Washington Post, expressed a fine contempt:

Did Britain "give" India the Hindu-Muslim war of 1947-48 that killed a million souls and ethnically cleansed 12 million more? The Jewish-Arab wars in Palestine?

Alas, the answer to the above sarcastic questions is "yes." (In the first instance by staying several decades too long and then compounding the mistake by leaving much too fast—even unilaterally advancing the date of independence so as to speed up the scuttle—and by capitulating to Muslim League demands for partition; and in the second instance by promising Palestine at different times to both the Zionist and Arab nationalist movements.) However, this unpleasant historical fact—which has its own implications for Iraq—does not acquit Zakaria's remark of the charge of being morally idle. In many other people's minds, too, there is the unspoken assumption that what the United States does in Iraq is a fully determined action, whereas what other people do is simply a consequence of that action, with no independent or autonomous "agency" of its own.


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