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10 October 2004

Iraq - US

Gulliver's travails: The U.S. in the post-Cold-War world
by John O'Sullivan

At the same time the intervention has had undeniably valuable benefits. The Iraqi people are free for the first time in almost fifty years. There is a free press, freedom of association, a multiplicity of political parties, and all the apparatus of a liberal democracy. Political prisoners have been freed from torture and captivity-an achievement that has received far less media coverage than the failure to find WMDs. And now an internationally recognized Iraqi government-not yet an elected one, but still the most representative government in the Arab world-has been established. If elections follow next January then the most important American promises will have been kept.

Of course, a final judgment on Iraq will not be possible for some years. If, in a decade, there is a flourishing democracy in Baghdad, then we will judge the U.S. intervention to be an unqualified success. We would even think it a worthwhile effort if, as Mark Steyn has speculated, the Iraqis end up with a moderate authoritarian regime that allows free speech, free markets and some kind of parliament-and that generally votes with Tunisia and Morocco at international forums. If Iraq has descended into a Lebanon-like chaos or a Taliban-like autocracy- either of which would provide a base for international terrorism directed against the United States-then the Iraqi intervention would have proved an actual setback in the war on terror. And that, alas, cannot be ruled out.


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