The best rule of politics is this: Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Is the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq perfect? No.
Is it good? Yes.
Was Saddam Hussein's rule perfect? No.
Was it good? No.
This shouldn't be a tough call. But, shortly after the liberation, the bespoke apologists for the Middle East's thug regimes and the more depraved "peace activists" in Europe set themselves a tall order - to prove that the Iraqis were better off under Saddam. At first, they confined this proposition to matters such as drinking water. When some of us pointed out that the potable water supply in Iraq is now double what it was pre-war, or that health care funding is 25 times larger than it was a year ago, Europe's Saddamite cheerleaders gave up this line of attack. It was always rather boring and technocratic, anyway. So now they've got right down to basics - not potable water but "torture." Why, Bush is torturing just as many Iraqis as Saddam did!
The Shia and Kurds know better than to go along with this. No doubt the average American network anchor or New York Times columnist wouldn't want to be led around naked with Victoria's Secret knickers on their heads by some freaky West Virginia slut. But I'll bet they'd take it any day over being thrown off a four-story building or having their fingers cut off one by one or being castrated without anaesthetic or being beheaded while the men around you sing "Happy birthday, Saddam." Video and photographic material exists of all the above being performed on Arabs and Kurds.
Readers may recall that last year I wrote about a Canadian female journalist questioned to death by the Iranians. Some British businessmen were brutally tortured by the Saudis. Bad luck, old man. But nobody's fired because nobody cares. By comparison, post-Saddam Iraq is a novelty - an Arab country where state torture is investigated and its perpetrators punished.
But let's go to the next stage. What do the "Bush's boast rings hollow" crowd want for Iraq? Usually, they want the UN to take over.
Is the UN perfect? No.
Is the UN good? Well, I'm not sure I'd even say that. But if you object to what's going on in those Abu Ghraib pictures - the sexual humiliation of prisoners and their conscription as a vast army of extras in their guards' porno fantasies - then you might want to think twice about handing over Iraq to the UN.
In Eritrea, the government recently accused the UN mission of, among other offences, pedophilia. In Cambodia, UN troops fueled an explosion of child prostitutes and AIDS. Amnesty International reports that the UN mission in Kosovo has presided over a massive expansion of the sex trade, with girls as young as 11 being lured from Moldova and Bulgaria to service international peacekeepers.
In Bosnia, where the sex-slave trade barely existed before the UN showed up in 1995, there are now hundreds of brothels with underage girls living as captives. The 2002 Save the Children report on the UN's cover-up of the sex-for-food scandal in West Africa provides grim details of peacekeepers' demanding sexual favors from children as young as four in exchange for biscuits and cake powder. "What is particularly shocking and appalling is that those people who ought to be there protecting the local population have actually become perpetrators," said Steve Crawshaw, the director of Human Rights Watch.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Read Mark Steyn's column about Saddam's tortures, Abu Ghraib, the media, and the United Nations. He can cover a lot of ground in one column.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:26 AM