Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Economist is wrong on Iraq - again

Bill Emmott, departing editor of the Economist, describes in his valedictory his backing of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as the "most controversial decision of this editorship". In debating whether the Economist was right to back the war, he concludes that "this will outrage some readers, but I still think the decision was correct—based on the situation at that time." This despite calling the last three years in Iraq a "debacle".

Bill, you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

When weighing up such a momentous decision as to invade a country, a multitude of factors must be considered. Namely, can the troops get to the capital quickly, what will be the peoples' reaction, what will be the repercussions with other countries, etc etc. For example, we all agree that the regimes in Zimbabwe and North Korea are equally as odious as Saddam's but noone is advocating invasion of either country. Why not? Because other factors are at work.

Those of us who supported the war at the time, made a number of miscalculations, namely

i) we underestimated the strength of the insurgency
ii) we underestimated the strength of anti-US and anti-Western feeling in the region
iii) we understimated the loathing Sunnis and Shias have for each other
iv) we massively overstimated the Bush administration's competence.

Emmott is honest enough to admit the latter point, stating "a paper whose scepticism about government drips from every issue should have been sceptical about Mr Bush's government and its ability to do things properly in Iraq". You should have been Bill, but you weren't.

We should have listened to PJ O'Rourke - "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it."