Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:11 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:11 | SYDNEY

Of praise, be it ever so faint


Sam Roggeveen


2 November 2007 14:16

Hugh White begins his response to my Iraq post by complimenting me for 'a timely reminder that whatever else one feels about the invasion of Iraq, there is no need to feel sorry for Saddam.' This is no doubt kindly meant, though if my point had been merely to remind readers not to feel sorry for Saddam I probably wouldn’t have bothered, since I don’t see much indication of Saddam revisionism in the public debate anyway.

I otherwise have no quarrel with Hugh White’s argument, as we are really talking past each other. But while we’re on the subject of counterfactuals, let me suggest one of my own: what if Saddam had bowed under diplomatic pressure in March 2003 and accepted unconditional, ‘anytime, anywhere’ UN inspections and a full accounting of his WMD programs? Bush would have been hailed a master of military brinkmanship. Of course it didn’t turn out that way, and for that, Bush deserves plenty of blame. As Hans Morgenthau said, a statesman should never put himself in a position from which he cannot retreat without losing face.