I haven’t had time to comment on events in the Middle East since a relatively optimistic post on Israel/Palestine a couple of weeks ago. Since then we’ve had a full cycle of pessimism and optimism, with things currently looking as good as they have in a long time – a ceasefire from the main militant/terrorist groups and the withdrawal of Israel troops/Zionist occupation forces from much of Gaza (readers take their pick regarding preferred terminology. But as the pessimists, notably including regular commentator PM Lawrence will no doubt point out, we’ve been here before and gone nowhere but backwards.
In Iraq, things are turning out much as I thought they would before the war, though the extent of looting has surprised me. Some pro-war commentators gloated when it was reported that many of the treasures of the National Museum had been removed for safe keeping before the fall of Baghdad, and that the total loss was ‘only’ 6000 items rather than the 60 000 initially estimated. This seems bizarre to me, in view of the fact that it was also reported about the same time that Iraq’s main nuclear facility had also been looted. The absence of any attempt to secure this facility is a pretty clear indication that the Administration knew there weren’t any weapons there, but the resulting spread of radioactive material is still a disaster.
The central question now is whether, having largely conceded that the pretext for the war was incorrect, if not bogus, the Coalition will deliver on the promise implicit in claims about a war of liberation, that is, a genuinely democratic and prosperous Iraq. I opposed the war because I did not think Bush would deliver, but I still hope to be proved wrong.