November 18, 2013
Forty-three people died on Friday in clashes between militias in Libya, as did 22 on Sunday from bombs in Iraq. In Helmand, a return of the Taliban to power is now confidently expected. Why should we care? Why should it feature on our news?
The answer is that we helped to bring it about. Britain’s three foreign wars in the past decade were uninvited military interventions to topple installed governments. All have ended in disaster.
In each case – Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan – it was easy to see evil in the prevailing regime. These are bad guys that we need to go after, said the Americans. Yet the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating, however cruel that order may have been. Iraqis today repeat that, whatever the ills of Saddam Hussein, under his rule most ordinary citizens and their families could walk the streets at night without fear of murder or kidnap. Religious differences were tolerated. Iraq should have been an oil-rich modern state. Even the Kurds, scourged by Saddam in the past, enjoyed autonomy and relative peace.