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Reader’s Comment of the Day: Tyrants are better than the West’s fickle military interventions


In response to Tamara Chabe: Christians have suffered from the overthrow of the Middle East’s secular dictators, grutchyngfysch wrote:

Let’s not kid ourselves: Gaddafi and Hussein were not cuddly live-and-let-live types. They were tyrants who were quite happy to use ethnic divisions as a means to further entrench their power – Gaddafi’s treatment of Christians may have been relatively sanguine, but he was quite happy to make his state Judenrein (free of Jews) like so many others in the Middle East.

Mosul didn’t have daily beheadings under Hussein, but ask the Kurds about his willingness to use mass murder to cement his power. Likewise, in Assad we find a man who is ruthlessly willing to use indiscriminate carpet bombing on his own people to maintain control.

Why is Isis worse than these tyrants? Because the tyrants wanted to live. They wanted to live on the proceeds of their butchery, enjoy the perks they’d prised from the dead hands of their enemies and live long, peaceful lives (peaceful in the sense of them not dying in a popular revolution).

So yes, as with all revolutionaries – as in fact with Isis – it is possible to list perks “enjoyed” by those who suffer them as rulers. But those perks are not evidence of magnanimity, they are – like every other aspect of statecraft in such countries – methods of control.

Isis wants and loves death. They want the Apocalypse; they want grim death to usher in the Mahdi. They want the land cleansed of apostates rather than just “subversives”. Under a tyrant there was never any guarantee that the state wouldn’t have you in their sights – Isis simply guarantees that you’re in theirs come what may.

If there’s a lesson to be learned at all – and I’m doubtful – it’s not that the stability of tyrants is preferable but that a vacuum left in the wake of their fall is terrifying.

I disagreed with Iraq, I disagreed with Libya, and I disagreed and still disagree with the bombing of Syria – not because I think violence doesn’t solve anything (quite the contrary: I can see how violence can resolve each of those problems), but because I know that there is no will amongst the policemen of the world to stay and rebuild afterwards. It’s what comes when they leave that makes it worse than a tyrant staying in power.


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