Perils of demonization
Posted by aogFriday, 01 August 2003 at 08:13 TrackBack Ping URL

One of the stronger arguments about the 12 year run up to the invasion of Iraq was the demonization of Saddam Hussein. While it’s difficult to overstate his personal malignancy, an individual, no matter how pathological, simply cannot do the kind of damage Saddam did without a lot of help. Saddam’s helpers consisted primarily of the Ba’ath Party (an Arab offshoot of the National Socialists - change “Aryan” to “Arab” and you’re there). The Ba’ath are themselves just a faction of the over “Caliphascist” movement in the Arab / Muslim world.

The goal of the Caliphascists is basically the reinstatement of the Caliphate, with themselves as the ruling class. Some might argue that secularists wouldn’t want that but that’s equivalent to saying only the truly religious ever schemed to become Pope. Saddam himself was never hesitant to use religious imagery when it suited him (e.g., the Koran written in his blood). People and techniques flowed easily among the different factions. The jihadis are pouring in to Iraq to fight on behalf of the Ba’ath - that’s an indication that there’s no relationship? Beyond that it is certainly the case that techniques were copied between different groups so the funding of terror group A is likely to make terror group B more effective, even if A and B aren’t allies. This effect becomes more pronounced the more similar the underlying ideologies of A and B. As noted above, there is a strong ideological relationship between all of the various Caliphascist factions.

It is because of this that fantasies of some special forces operation to frag Saddam are pointless. If not Saddam then it would have been one of Saddam’s spawn or some other Ba’ath thug. Back in the day (presumably part of its early fellow traveling), the Left objected to the demonization of Saddam, of potraying him as another Hitler. I agreed with this argument but not in order to defend the Ba’ath or oppose US foreign policy. The problem is as noted above, that if you make Saddam the enemy, you don’t take proper precautions against others nor persue correct policy.

What’s interesting here is that the American Left is doing the same thing with Al Qaeda, demonizing that particular organization and using that as an excuse to ignore other, just as dangerous (and ideologically allied) groups. I wonder, if Al Qaeda declared bankruptcy and re-organized under a new name, would the Left declare victory? There wouldn’t be any more Al Qaeda, after all.