Debate Magazine

End of the Bush/Blair Doctrine

Posted on the 08 August 2014 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth
From the BBC:-
Up to a quarter of Iraq's Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority group's biggest town.
The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.
IS has been gaining ground in northern Iraq since June, and also controls some of Syria.
The US has warned that the situation for Iraq's minority groups threatens to become a "humanitarian catastrophe".
Following up from something that DBC Reed said, it used to be said that "he might be a bastard, but at least he's our bastard". The Bush/Blair view was "he might be our bastard but he's still a bastard". A more modern view would be "they're all bastards, so you might as well at least pick one that's friendly to you and not too unreasonable".
Personally, I don't believe that democracy can happen in most of the Middle East. Too much centralisation of economic power based on oil means that it's a winner takes all game with tribe fighting tribe for the money. So, you've got a choice between gangsters and theocracies. On balance, I think the gangsters are probably better. I'm not saying they're peachy, but theocracies have all the problems of gangsters plus they'll introduce a ton of rules about how you have to live. All gangsters care about is being top dog and getting richer. The Shah of Iran was fine with you wearing a miniskirt and listening to ABBA. Just don't try and depose him. But post-revolutionary Iran didn't want that or the ABBA and miniskirts.
I think the IS situation in Iraq is basically the end of "regime change" and the neocon agenda. It's not just that the post-invasion of Iraq was a clusterfuck, it's that trying to turn these people into the sort of pluralist society we have in Britain just can't be imposed. Look at Northern Ireland - we can't get them to vote for parties except along "part of Ireland/not part of Ireland lines" sectarian lines. Why did anyone think that Iraq was going to be all smiles?

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