The best we can hope for in Iraq

Something I posted to a Slashdot thread today (material in italics is from the post I'm replying to), addressing a common pro-war attitude:

As a side benefit, the people of Iraq have a chance at self-rule

Well, the 100,000+ dead don't have any chance at self rule, no...and those left have more chance of falling into civil war that, at best, ends up in a theocracy, than of ending up with a stable democracy.

After the way the neocons have fucked things up over there, the very very best we can hope for over there is that in 50 years or so, after a few hundred thousand more people have been killed in the fighting, things will be as nice and stable in Iraq as they are in Northern Ireland now.

...affect your belief that continued power by the gentle, peace-loving Saddamites would have been the better answer for both the (fractured) Iraqi people and the rest of the world.

The best course would have been for the U.S. to not help bring the Baathists to power in the first place. Having screwed that up, the next best thing would have been to not have supported Hussein in the 1980s.

Having screwed that up, the next next best thing would have been a long-term process of supporting reform in Iraq with diplomatic and economic sanctions and rewards, with the definite threat of military force if Iraq again attacked its neighbors. (With a corresponding promise to defend Iraq if its neighbors attacked it.) Yes, it would have taken years, decades even, to bring about change, and Saddam's brutal rule would have killed people in that time. But fewer than have already died, and orders of magnitude less than those who will die before stable democracy comes to Iraq.

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