Iraq and Ambivalence

There are parts of this piece by Tish Durkin I disagree with, but the following I have seen at times, and it does leave a bad taste. I hoped my predictions of disaster were wrong from the get go, and that my sporadic predictions that things would work out for Iraq would be right. Shadenfreude over this is, well, not just a broken joy but a deformed one. (via normblog)

[W]hat depresses me, and makes me despise so much war criticism even when I agree with it, is that so many of those positing it seem so happy about what’s gone wrong. They seem to relish the probability that Iraq will get worse and worse so that they can be righter and righter.

This isn’t new.

I remember an anti-war activist who was staying in our hotel in Baghdad, who had not come to Karbala for that first ashura. A good person trying to do good things, she had stayed behind to prepare a media alert on the horrors of the occupation — which, especially at a time when the coverage out of Iraq was largely very upbeat, was a very worthy thing to be doing. Still, one thing really bothered me about her. When, upon everyone’s return from Karbala, the activist heard that the day had actually been free of violence, and full of jubilation, she looked as if she had tasted a bad olive, and spit out her response: “Oh, fuck.”

How she must be gloating now. Reality has made sages of the most dire prophets. It’s perfect: Iraq really has gone to hell, and the demon neocons are the ones that sent it.

Like liberals – and thinking conservatives, and sentient beings — everywhere, I gravely doubt that the troop surge – so little so late — will do anything to save Iraq. But for the sake of the Iraqi people, I sure hope it does – even if that helps the Republicans.

But I’m not sure how widespread it is. While a few I’ve met do seem to feel glee at Iraq’s slide into the abyss (in an echo of the crisis mongering of old Commies, who thought a protracted depression would save the world!), most don’t. The opening of Paul Krugman’s April 11th 2003 NYT column seems me to be representative on this front:

Credit where credit is due: the hawks were right to say that a whiff of precision-guided grapeshot would lead to the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. But even skeptics about this war expected a military victory. (”Of course we’ll win on the battlefield, probably with ease” was the opening line of my start-of-the-war column.) Instead, we worried — and continue to worry — about what would follow. As another skeptic, Michael Kinsley of Slate, wrote yesterday: ”I do hope to be proven wrong. But it hasn’t happened yet.”

Why worry? I won’t pretend to have any insights into what is going on in the minds of the Iraqi people. But there is a pattern to the Bush administration’s way of doing business that does not bode well for the future — a pattern of conquest followed by malign neglect.