Mary Kaldor tries to answer the question, Was there an Alternative to War in Iraq?

In OpenDemocracy, Mary Kaldor tries to answer a difficult question for those who believed that Saddam Hussein had to go but were critical of the war.

“Was and is there an alternative to war in Iraq? The most important strategy in the new type of war is the restoration of legitimate political authority. This is no less true in Iraq than in other new wars, both before and after the invasion.

In the period before the invasion, the best justification for war was regime change. Saddam Hussein’s regime was one of the most brutal in the world – millions had died from his maniacal foreign adventures, from the suppression of uprisings in the north and south, from purges and repression, as well as economic devastation. So was there another way to achieve regime change? From discussions with the opposition inside Iraq, I believe that there was a real possibility of ‘opening up’ the regime rather in the way that happened in east-central Europe in the 1980s as a result of a combination of pressure both from outside based on the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and from below.

There was much more going on inside Iraq than was realised. Indeed the expatriate opposition and Saddam Hussein had a shared interest in suppressing this reality. There were underground movements and parties – including the Da’wa party (Shi’a Islamist), the Communist Party, the General Union of Students, and the League of Iraqi Women. There were also various efforts to create public spaces by artists and intellectuals.

Most interestingly perhaps was the way in which the mosques, both Sunni and Shi’a, were leveraging Saddam’s new emphasis on religion to create more open space within the mosques, in a strategy reminiscent of the Catholic church in Poland.”

Read the whole piece, here.