Human Rights Watch to Iraq: yo, don’t legalize marriage for 9-year-olds.
Iraq’s Council of Ministers should withdraw a new draft Personal Status Law and ensure that Iraq’s legal framework protects women and girls in line with its international obligations. The pending legislation would restrict women’s rights in matters of inheritance and parental and other rights after divorce, make it easier for men to take multiple wives, and allow girls to be married from age nine.
The draft law, called the Jaafari Personal Status Law, is based on the principles of the Jaafari school of Shia religious jurisprudence, founded by Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shia imam. Approved by the Council of Ministers on February 25, 2014, it must now be approved by the parliament to become law.
And what are his dates? Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth imam? 702-765 CE. Here’s a thought: how about not looking to imams who lived 13 centuries ago for guidance in making new laws? How about actually thinking about human beings and their needs, instead of taking instruction from a sixth or fifth or seventh imam?
The draft law would cover Iraq’s Shia citizens and residents, a majority of the population of 36 million. It includes provisions that prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims, legalizes marital rape by stating that a husband is entitled to have sex with his wife regardless of her consent, and prevents women from leaving the house without permission from their husbands. The law would automatically grant custody over any child age two or older to the father in divorce cases, lower the marriage age to nine for girls and fifteen for boys, and even allow girls younger than nine to be married with a parent’s approval.
In short it treats women and girls like inferiors and slaves with no rights.
The draft law violates the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Iraq ratified in 1986, by giving fewer rights to women and girls on the basis of their gender. It also violates the Convention on Rights of the Child, which Iraq ratified in 1994, by legalizing child marriage, putting girls at risk of forced and early marriage and susceptible to sexual abuse, and not requiring decisions about children in divorce cases to be made in the best interests of the child.
The draft law ignores article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women by legalizing marital rape, Human Rights Watch said. The CEDAW committee, the body of international experts who review state compliance with the convention, in its February 28, 2014 review of Iraq’s reports, urged the government to “immediately withdraw the draft Jaafari personal status law.” The law also appears to violate the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by granting fewer rights to certain individuals on the basis of their religion.
Well at least Iraq ratified CEDAW. You know who has 626 million thumbs and didn’t ratify CEDAW? The US, that’s who. We’re one of only seven countries that haven’t. My god that makes me swell with pride. The others? Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Palau, and Tonga. Great, isn’t it? On the other hand we do not have a Jaafari Personal Status Law on the books, so that’s an improvement on Iraq.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed:to drive, to travel without a “mahram” ,to deny their husband’s re.quest for sex, to demand equality , to reject a husband chosen by the their families and much, much more.! The reason I wrote that is because if you ask a sunni muslim about that news from Iiraq, they will most likely tell you that those shias are not real or true muslims, yet if you compare both schools they are exactly the same in many respects.An interesting thing though is prohibiting muslim men from marrying non muslims , which many loud mouthed muslims would say that it is proof of islam not discriminating against different faiths, so here they are spitting on their own Quran and teachings. It also makes want to ask whom is considered a muslim among those “learnec men of faith, ” since women are not even allowed to ask a question in religious gatherings.I always believed that traditional shia doctrine was more extreme at the core, since its claimed founder Ali was always the most idealogical of Mohamad’s companions and the shias consider the true legitimate heir to mohamad
These are Shi’a Imams. They are appointed by Allah and are without sin, so of course they are god-empowered and all must bow down to their perfectly reasonable holy proclamations.
This shit has been working for 1300 years, what could possibly go wrong now?
It doesn’t just treat one half of the population like inferiors and slaves, it legally defines them that way. If you wanted to legally define a slave class, this is definitely one way to do it.
All that blood and treasure expended, for nothing, or even less than nothing, women were probably less oppressed under the Saddam regime.
Blanche Quizno says
Women were DEFINITELY less oppressed under Saddam Hussein. That’s a fact.
Now? We’re looking at institutionalized pedophilia, sex trafficking of girls by their own families, and all sorts of other lovely outcomes. Hooray for George W. Bush’s holy crusade!!!
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Ah. yes. I see. Because if you are madly in love with the girl* down the street, you really should have to wait til she’s nine if the parents are convinced you’re a screaming pedophile out to abuse their daughter. On the other hand, if you’re a nice respectable man, maybe an accountant and financial advisor whose clientele includes a mosque or two, not some horrid pedophile, then you shouldn’t have to wait for some arbitrary birthday to marry a six year old girl. Just have a nice cup of tea with the father and explain how you’ll be an excellent husband, what with your steady paycheck and upstanding clientele, and then when he’s convinced that you aren’t a fire-breathing demon from hell (which, in this rape-denying world is known to be the key identifier of someone likely to rape) the two of you can just sign a contract and, set a date for a few weeks out so as not to conflict with her sixth birthday, and everything’s fine.
What kind of evil would have to possess a government bureaucrat to want to interfere with that happy ending?
[/depraved yet sanity-saving snark]
Ugh. This whole topic is barely tolerable with vicious snark, though it still is making me literally nauseated. I can’t imagine having a serious conversation with a supporter of this bill on the “merits” of marrying off 5 or 6 or 3 year old girls that doesn’t induce actual vomiting.
Katherine Woo says
“Hooray for George W. Bush’s holy crusade!!!”
George Bush for all his faults and crimes neither created this marital age meme running through Islamic cultures, nor did he compel them to act upon it by removing Saddam from power.
The Iraqis are choosing of their own volition to indulge this chilling evil. And the ultimate cause of this abomination is either Mohammed himself (if he existed) or the Muslims who created and endorsed the Aisha story.
“George Bush for all his faults and crimes neither created this marital age meme running through Islamic cultures, nor did he compel them to act upon it by removing Saddam from power.”
No, of course not, however the point is that the entire war was a waste of lives and money, like the Crusades. Surely you could consider the possibility that the invasion, the overthrow of Saddam and the consequent de-stabilisation of Iraq has provided an opportunity for the rise of Islamisation in the country.
Brett Oliver says
I presume that CAIR has stopped trying to ban showings of the Honor Diaries for a moment so they can send a trenchant letter to Iraqi parliamentarians protesting this proposed vile law which will harm the image of Islam?
No, he just destroyed an evil secular regime so it could be replaced by an evil theocracy.
Well, except for the free-reign rapist Uday.
Yeah, this probably has its foundation in the story about Aisha.
It boggles the mind how any parent in good conscience could marry their daughter off at this age
@5, You are right about women having had better conditions under Saddam, the problem was that though under his regime anyone outside of the realm of power was a second class citizen at best, anyone regardless of their gender, religion, sect that presented a threat or opposed the regime would have been killed and their family shame.I do think that was definitely a huge mistake, but I think Saddam does bear a big part of the responsibilty for many things happening now: he was in power the longest of any recent rulers Iraq and Iraq was becoming a wealthier nation because of oil, yet Saddam believed ruling Iraq was about him personally and his family at the end, he never believed in individual freedoms or the value of the human being , he could have laid down foundations for modern day insitutions for democracy, but instead he wanted the arab hero and liberator.Iraqis at one point before he took power were some of the most educated people in the arab world, arab intellectuals used to say :Cairo writes, Beirout prints it ad Baghdad reads it.Sorry but no one should really miss him.it is also a result of 1300 years of accumulated mistakes,most of which were kinda put away in a closet and an idiot named Bush just came and arrogantly decided to open that door without any calculations or thinking, America should not be blamed for the 1400 years old sectarian hatred and divisions and their cosequences on those societies, but rather for the ignorance of its own leaders in thinking they are god’s gift to humanity, and should be really weary of any war a president calls for in the future
Nathaniel Frein says
No, but we damn well can be blamed for the last century of screwing around with their governments any time they didn’t agree with American (and European) business interests.
@ 14, you are right about that, but lets remember it takes 2 to tango, a lot of those governments were and are still cozy with the west in general since the 1920s and mostly in private , though publicly always denouncing the ” imperialist” west.As someone born and raised in the middle east, I can tell you the biggest problems are from within and are the result of centuries of ignorance and attachment to outdated ideas such as blind loyalties tonreligion, clan , region etc.Yes many of the things some governments in this country did there do amount to crimes, but opening the gates of hell does not hell was not there before.You rarely hear anyone from there asking first to take a look inside those societies and not to just blame the west for all their grievances, yes there was a european colonialism extremely brutal at times that caused major changes in some parts, but where is that untapped potential and problem solving in the middle east?
Nathaniel Frein says
I dunno. From my privileged western perspective it seems like every time it started to rise up it got nipped in the bud by some American or European business.
If the Middle Eastern societies had not been so technologically backward and with such weak state institutions they wouldn’t have been victims of European imperialism, the reality is that they were 500 years behind Europe and that was entirely due to internal factors.
Omar Puhleez says
At the time, majorities of voters in the countries that formed what was known re Iraq as the Coalition of the Willing (CoW) endorsed the military action designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. The boy had form. He had modelled his regime on Stalin’s, and Stalin was his mentor, guide and inspiration.
We now know the cost in blood and money of the campaign to remove him. For those whose main concern was ‘who gets Iraq’s oil?’ the risk was minor of reigniting the Sunni-Shia conflict that Saddam had kept a lid on for all his years in power. Apparently, they couldn’t have cared less.
What we do not know, and can never know, is what it would have cost in the end if the bastard had been left in power. But if the Pro-Totalitarian Left had had its way, and had stymied the western intervention, he or one of his psychopathic sons would probably be in power today not only over Iraq, but over a fair bit more of the Middle East as well, particularly the parts richer in oil like er, Iran, Kuwait, perhaps even Saudi Arabia.
Nigel Cawthorne did a survey of the 100 worst tyrants in all of recorded history. Saddam Hussein is in there.
@19 , let me see if I understand what are you saying, so after a good 10 years of sanctions , with a very weakened and demoralized army not even able to fix old tanks let alone fly any fighter jets withoutr risk of being shut down within minutes, having lost most of northern Iraq to the kurds, being bordered by an enemy from the east and not so friendly neighbors from all directions ,having lost most of his friends and having become more isolated from even his entourage, you really think Saddam or his demented family would have been able to invade another country? Really?you can call a war by any name you like , but wars are judged by the resluts and not the intentions:a more powerful Iran, sectarian hatred and killings by all against all, no democracy or freedom, and no free or cheap oil.If I understand your arguements then they mean only a good badass can stop a bad badass. Yes Saddam belongs in the same category as Stallin, general Franco, Mao, Kim Jung il, Nero and all other dictators, but sometimes standing up to tyrany is not only through war
Gordon Willis says
Because submission. The humanity of women doesn’t count
as much, and needs are sinful — except those of the men making the laws, because it’s god that prompts and inspires them. Obviously. And Katherine is right to talk about memes. I don’t think we always grasp the fact that many people really believe this.
I think that one motive for belief is that belief conceals motives; it purifies behaviour which otherwise could not bear the scrutiny of moral integrity. But it’s not the only motive. For example, there’s also the having no choice but to submit.
Omar Puhleez says
@#20: “Yes Saddam belongs in the same category as Stallin, general Franco, Mao, Kim Jung il, Nero and all other dictators, but sometimes standing up to tyrany [sic] is not only through war.”
Sometimes perhaps. A bloke by the name of Joshua bar Joseph (aka Jesus Christ) used to go around telling that to everyone who would listen (and a lot refused to.) The antidemocratic (Roman) regime none the less took a dislike to him and killed him, and went on for another 300 years or so before being given any real bother, and that was given it by other tyrants. Marauding tyrants.
All tyrants I know anything about have kept their national populations and their national armed forces disciplined by the presence and cultivation of an elite Paraetorian guard. In Hitler’s case it was the SS; in Stalin’s, the NKVD, and in Saddam Hussein’s the Republican Guard. For a tyranny to fall through national dissension, the armed forces must split so far asunder as to include the Praetorians. As a general rule, this only happens when the tyrant gets himself into a foreign war, forgetting for the occasion that his army is there to protect him and his power from the populace. In the 1982 Falklands War, General Galtieri the Argentinian dictator and his junta made the fatal gamble of attacking the British Falkland Islands, hoping that Margaret Thatcher and Britain would not put up a fight, and that they would emerge with enormous and unassailable national prestige.
The British left at that time was divided on the issue, many siding with Galtieri against Thatcher, while adamantly denying that they were doing any such thing.
In the Second Iraq War of 2003, the Left again divided. Positions ranged from that of Tony Blair to that of left anti-totalitarians like Christopher Hitchens and Norman Geras. I saw the issue at the time as this: if George W Bush gets into a fight with Saddam Hussein, whom should I support? To ask the question was to answer it, but Iraqi emigre street demonstrations in western cities in support of the CoW action really clinched it for me. Again, the Left supported the dictatorship while strenuously denying that it was actually doing so. Its members tried to convince others that Saddam’s regime was ready to collapse anyway (eg the journalist John Pilger.) They had limited success in mobilising public support for their position, and their street demonstrations swiftly declined and fizzled out. But they had great success in convincing themselves.
So you ask me: “let me see if I understand what are you saying, so after a good 10 years of sanctions , with a very weakened and demoralized army not even able to fix old tanks let alone fly any fighter jets without risk of being shut down within minutes, having lost most of northern Iraq to the kurds, being bordered by an enemy from the east and not so friendly neighbors from all directions ,having lost most of his friends and having become more isolated from even his entourage, you really think Saddam or his demented family would have been able to invade another country? Really?”
I would say that you have convinced yourself on that subject pretty thoroughly. Did you work all that out for yourself, or did you read it perhaps in the New Statesman?
@22, I will answer your question no that is my opinion formed through my own experiences some of which I will detail down below.As for Iraqis in the west, yes a lot of them supported the 2nd gulf war, but also there were many others who did not want that to happen because many of them still had families there and were afraid of what could happen to them as result of war, I know that because I worked with many of them and even worked for one of them who owned a restaurant here in Minneapolis, he was not a supporter of Saddam he was here since the 1st war fled Iraq because of his political views, this guy told me that Iraq has been through too many wars and that the leaders of the pro war iraqis in the west were what he called hotel exiles, people who did not go through what others went through:living in refugee camps , coming here with little support , having to be worried about family left behind .This guy opted not go on the local TV station, he was fearful of the reaction from other iraqis specially if he were to go public with his views .other iraqis were former soldiers who deserted after the 1st war , who used to tell me horror stories about conditions in refugee camps/prisons in the desert of Saudi Arabia , a lot of those guys did not see a need for another war, they knew and saw what became of the Iraqi army after the 1st war. Also after the 1st war when I was still Iin Jordan I knew a lot of Iraqis of all sects and religions that fled to Jordan , many of them did not want to see another war because they were hoping to go back to their country oneday and felt more fighting and war meant more time away from iraq, in sum those people were the average everyday iraqi the who really experienced hard ships ,unlike many other pro war Iraqis like Chalabi or majeed Khoei (he was the son of a well known shia mulla) who never had to work like other iraqis or know what a refugee camp was like. As for Hitchens , yes he is one of the best minds of our times and anyone can learn a lot from him when it comes to religion and its evils and perils,and I personally understand his reasoning for supporting the war as he believed that iraqis needed to be liberated from that dictator , but I believe he went with the wrong team for the right reason.that does not mean we should jot have anything, wecould have simply started a kurd like effort in the south, train anti Saddam Iraqis in Kuwait for example as the evidence suggested more animosity towards Saddam, yest it could have taken longer but we would have seen the chaotic scenes of looting, pillaging, sectarian viloence etc .The war is a thing of the past now but we have to evaluate it through the results for all affected and not simply by goals and intentions.also on the wrong sidevwere peopleblike Chomsky , Galloway and others whose hate for ” western imperialism” made them not realize how close to demented and looney dictators they have become.The reason I am feel this about that war now , because there are politicians out there who will rush to wage another one , say against Iran , in a heartbeat as if the word taking action only means armies, bombings fighter jets etc.And still I would not mind answer my question about saddam’s situation prior to the war
Gordon Willis says
Meanwhile, and quite inconsequentially, HRW say:
What on earth is an urgent case of getting married? Bathos 41 to Control, we have an urgent case of getting married. We’re going in. Request backup. Maybe it’s a case of “Dad said you fucking-well are getting married so shut up and get on with it”, a situation naturally requiring prompt judicial support. Or would it be “god, she’s nine. We’d better get on with it quick, or, well, she’ll be ten, or her bridegroom will pine away and die of unrequited passion”, or Allah’s will will not be done or seen to be done and there will be acne and athlete’s foot and regimes will totter and crumble and no man will get his rights.
Sorry, I just find girls more interesting than what Saddam did, and what Gaahd said to Bush and whatever it was Blair wanted and and… You know, like it’s happening now and more girls will suffer for being girls? See how easy it is to forget about them?
Omar Puhleez says
In this thread, references to Saddam’s regime and time go all the way back to RJW’s comment @#4, to wit:
“All that blood and treasure expended, for nothing, or even less than nothing, women were probably less oppressed under the Saddam regime.”
Various commenters took it on from there re Saddam, Iraq’s prosperity and womens’ rights. For my part, I only came in at #19. So I put it to you that the proposition that ‘things were better under Saddam Hussein’ is quite relevant to the discussion. And though he has disagreed with me, I think that arealexmuslim has made a valuable and informative contribution, with his(?) own observations about Islam and Iraq’s recent history. Right from #1.
“As for Hitchens , yes he is one of the best minds of our times and anyone can learn a lot from him when it comes to religion and its evils and perils,and I personally understand his reasoning for supporting the war as he believed that iraqis needed to be liberated from that dictator”-
Well, he talked a good talk, but as far as I know he wasn’t anywhere near the front line. What Hitchens and his fellow warmongers didn’t really consider, publicly, was that the “cure” might be worse than the disease. Since Hitchens is no longer with us, we won’t hear his opinions on contemporary Iraq and the repugnant Jaafari Personal Status Law will we?
Omar Puhleez says
@#23: “The reason I am feel this about that war now , because there are politicians out there who will rush to wage another one , say against Iran , in a heartbeat as if the word taking action only means armies, bombings fighter jets etc.And still I would not mind answer my question about saddam’s situation prior to the war.”
The CoW (essentially Bush, Blair and Howard) made much of Saddam Hussein’s program to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) before attacking Iraq. As is well known, they did not find any, and much has been made of this by Chomsky and other anti-CoW campaigners. However, this WMD concern was not based on mere rhetoric. Saddam had form, having used chemical weapons against his opponents inside Iraq. He had a reputation for ruthlessness. Most importantly, he behaved as if he either had them, or was well on the way to acquiring them. After the CoW search for them had proved fruitless, even his own generals expressed surprise about it. They believed Saddam had them.
The campaign to invade Iraq and depose Saddam depended on the credibility of his having WMD. Without that possibility, political support for it in the west would have evaporated.
So the choice was not one between war and no war. It was between war immediately on the CoW’s terms, or war later on Saddam’s terms. Saddam was at no time seen to be in a weak position. On the contrary, if his gamble had paid off, I think there can be little doubt that he would have emerged from the situation as the hero of the Arab world, and probably also of the Islamic world. So the choice was pretty clear and stark.. Does one support Bush and his CoW, or does one support Saddam Hussein? Because there was no third way. Opposition to Bush and the CoW automatically meant support for Saddam Hussein, no matter how much bluster and denial of that was generated by the Chomskys, Pilgers, Galloways and others at the time.
The toppling of Saddam Hussein was the easy part for the CoW. The hard part was dealing with the revived sectarian Sunni-Shia conflict within Iraq afterwards.
We now know the monetary and human cost of toppling Saddam Hussein. What we will never know, and can never know, is the cost of leaving him in power. He could have just withered on his vine. He could also have emerged as the Stalin of the Middle East.
Iraqi women were reportedly better off in Saddam’s time, and likewise Iranian women in the Shah’s time. It is unfortunately true, however, that the people who get elected to office in western democracies more often than not are themselves antidemocratic. Thus the democratically elected politicians of the UK and the US were instrumental if no crucial in the 1954 overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadeq government of Iran, and of its replacement with the brutal regime of the Shah; only to themselves face a massive subsequent popular reaction against them which took the form of support for the theocrat Khomeini and his mullahs.
Needless to add, I cannot see any good coming from a western attack on Iran, and would oppose it if it happened.
Omar Puhleez says
“What Hitchens and his fellow warmongers didn’t really consider, publicly, was that the ‘cure’ might be worse than the disease. Since Hitchens is no longer with us, we won’t hear his opinions on contemporary Iraq and the repugnant Jaafari Personal Status Law will we?”
No. We will never know for sure. But we can have a damned confident guess. From what I know of Hitchens from his writings, I would say that he would have been hotly against it. And perhaps, if you could haul yourself above smugness for a moment, you might point out where in those writings he comes out in favour of oppression of one human being by another, in any form, anywhere.
Slavery? Racism? Sexism? A single unambiguous reference would do.
And as for the ‘cure’ being worse than the ‘disease’, the cure was a non-WMD war and the ‘disease’ was from the best evidence around going to be one involving WMD. Which is why the CoW action against Saddam Hussein had such massive support in the west, and why the opposition to it, such as it was, fizzled out so convincingly.
Gordon Willis says
Omar @ 25
(Sigh) Well, it — with the other things you mention — has a certain limited relevance. It ought not to be a major part of this discussion not only because no one can change it now but also and most importantly because the subject of this post is a bill before the Iraqi parliament which is intended to deepen the enslavement of half the population of the country. But they’re girls, so let’s talk about history instead. That may not be quite fair of me, but please allow for sheer frustration.
Omar Puhleez says
“But they’re girls, so let’s talk about history instead. That may not be quite fair of me….”
Yes, you may not be quite wrong there.
“…but please allow for sheer frustration.”
It was not me who introduced ‘history’ into this thread. But once in, it is like Stendhal’s pistol shot in a concert. Can’t hardly be ignored. Nor dismissed as irrelevant.
Would Iraq today be contemplating the introduction of a repressive Jaafari Personal Status Law if Saddam Hussein and his gangster cronies were still in power? Quite possibly not. Does that show that the present Iraqi legislature has flies all over it? Yes, IMHO it bloody well does.
And does that mean that, as many Muslims argue, that democracy and representative government do not fit in an Islamic context? Quite possibly yes. It may mean that one of them has to diminish, if not wither away altogether.
And what about the present legislature? Should the Iraqi people scrap it and find themselves a new (and if possible, better) Saddam Hussein?
No. But I dare say the question might have occurred to one or two Iraqis, particularly among the less Islamically inclined.
It also seems to me that social relations in nearby Saudi Arabia have barely improved since the time of Muhammad, indicating that it is probably easier for the clerics to keep modernity out than to get rid of it once it is in.
“you might point out where in those writings he comes out in favour of oppression of one human being by another, in any form, anywhere.”
That’s really not relevant, my criticism was in regard to Hitchens’ misguided advocacy of the war and his monumentally (let’s be charitable) naive support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq on the assumption that liberal democracy could be imposed by force. Most of those hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who were ‘collateral damage’ might have preferred to remain ‘unliberated’ but alive.
“…the cure was a non-WMD war and the ‘disease’ was from the best evidence around going to be one involving WMD.”
My guess is that the Americans and their Coalition partners knew that Saddam didn’t in fact, possess any significant and deployable WMD, or they would never have invaded Iraq, the potential casualties would have been militarily and politically insupportable. It’s amazing that the Coalition spooks didn’t ‘find’ a cache of weapons armed with nerve agents or anthrax or some other biochemical horrors to ‘justify’ the entire debacle.
Omar Puhleez says
“… my criticism was in regard to Hitchens’ misguided advocacy of the war and his monumentally (let’s be charitable) naive support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq on the assumption that liberal democracy could be imposed by force….”
That “naive assumption” underpinned the post-WW2 Allied occupation and reconstruction of Germany and Japan, which countries both have well established liberal democracies where none existed before. Mussolini was overthrown in Italy by a popular uprising, which saved the Allied armies the trouble. But contra the Pro-totalitarian Left’s hopes and self-assurances re Iraq, before there was any hope of liberal democracy establishing itself there, Saddam had to go. And that boy knew how to stay.
“…Most of those hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who were ‘collateral damage’ might have preferred to remain ‘unliberated’ but alive.”
Undoubtedly so. But the CoW can hardly be blamed for the overwhelming bulk of the Iraqi casualties, which resulted from revived Iraqi Sunni-Shia sectarian violence after the CoW victory and the fall of Saddam. The direct Iraqi casualties of the CoW action, if my memory serves me well, were only about 3,000 in number.
Again may I remind you of the choice we in the west faced at the time? It was support GW Bush, or support Saddam Hussein. Without Bush’s determination, there would have been no war. Blair and Howard would never have attempted it without Bush. The third attempted formulation of opposition to the war while simultaneously opposing Saddam Hussein, was a complete political fantasy.
“…that “naive assumption” underpinned the post-WW2 Allied occupation and reconstruction of Germany and Japan, which countries both have well established liberal democracies where none existed before.”
Not in any way comparable. Germany was the most advanced state in Europe, with highly efficient government institutions, and democracy did indeed exist their prior to the Nazi regime, in fact, Hitler achieved power by democratic means.
Japan was an authoritarian society with a highly centralised institutions which were legitimised by the Emperor cult. In both cases the task of democratisation was relatively easy, for different reasons, compared with ME nations where the state is weak or non-existent and tribal and sectarian loyalties are paramount.
“The third attempted formulation of opposition to the war while simultaneously opposing Saddam Hussein, was a complete political fantasy.”
Well, why not apply that reasoning to the Kim regime in North Korea which is probably much nastier and more Orwellian than Saddam’s Iraq? Is is because, unlike Saddam, the Kim regime actually possesses WMD.
Gordon Willis says
This appeal is still short of ideal numbers. If anyone hasn’t signed it please do asap.
Omar Puhleez says
‘”The third attempted formulation of opposition to the war while simultaneously opposing Saddam Hussein, was a complete political fantasy.”
‘Well, why not apply that reasoning to the Kim regime in North Korea which is probably much nastier and more Orwellian than Saddam’s Iraq? Is is because, unlike Saddam, the Kim regime actually possesses WMD.’
I think the reasoning re Saddam was along the lines of ‘the more time we give him, the more WMD he will get,’ and that the CoW went into Iraq War 2 firmly believing that Saddam was dangerous, but would get more dangerous still with time, for reasons I have given above. Needless to add, like Hitchens, I have severe criticisms of the way the whole thing was managed, and particularly of the role of George Bush senior after Iraq War 1, where he called on Iraqi democrats to rise up against Saddam’s regime, and when they did, stood by and allowed the regime to massacre them: likewise the Kurds.
North Korea has no oil and decreasing diplomatic support. The Chinese probably regard it as a millstone, and if the balloon went up, so would that whole country.
Pre-1914 Germany was a federation of previously autocratic states, with Prussia calling its shots. Pre-1933, and having lost WW1 and with severe reparations to pay, it was a staggering democracy with the highest unemployment rate in the industrialised world. Today it is different.
All countries are different and incomparable in their own separate ways. And yet all are similar and comparable, and their most outrageous special features can be attacked on common (human rights) grounds: hence this thread, on this blog, which is about human rights in Iraq, originates in the US, and is being discussed from various locations around the world.
You say re Germany and Japan: “…the task of democratisation was relatively easy, for different reasons, compared with ME nations where the state is weak or non-existent and tribal and sectarian loyalties are paramount.” Quite true.
Yet my reading of history inclines me to the view that autocracies and mafia governments fall mainly because of externally imposed crises: invasions, foreign economic meltdowns, and failed military adventures by their governments in bids to rally domestic support.
This thread is about a repressive bill coming before the Iraqi legislature. Some commenters have understandably suggested that life for Iraqi women was better under Saddam Hussein’s regime, and they may well be right. My original post on this thread at #19 related to that.
You may well be right when you say that in “ME nations where the state is weak or non-existent and tribal and sectarian loyalties are paramount” democratisation is harder than it was, for example, in Europe. Except that I cannot see any other worthwhile course.
Unlike pyramidal autocracies like Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, democracies do not have a record of making war on one another. Islam I regard as the original and classic blueprint for fascism, and about the most antidemocratic political creed around. And having lived in Iran for a short time, I think I now have a better than average understanding of life under (moderate) fascist rule. In Tehran every Friday after prayers, there were public executions of heretics, dissidents and anyone else the theocracy took exception to.
So there will possibly be a lot more internal repression and external aggression by the various authoritarian regimes against those they see as threats before the last autocracy disappears off the face of the Earth. But when a GW Bush takes on a Saddam Hussein, and for whatever reason, I find it hard to imagine myself supporting the Saddam Hussein.