In an editorial published on Rudaw Professor Middle East Politics at Missouri State University David Romano took issue with comments made by the German journalist Jurgen Todenhofer, the journalist and writer who went on an official visit to the “Islamic State” and made somewhat controversial comments about its power and influence. Romano’s short critique of Todenhofer centers around this comment which Todenhofer wrote,
“We are now paying the price for George W. Bush’s act of near-unparalleled folly; the invasion of Iraq.”
Romano then goes on to explore the fallacious nature of that claim. Especially the connotation which implies Iraq would be better off had the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein been left in power. Romano charges that,
“Although the likes of Todenhofer might have enjoyed being a guest of the Ba’athists when he visited Mosul in 2002 or Damascus more recently, the Ba’athist Republic of Fear hardly seems better than the Islamic State of Terror.”
Romano then takes us over the numbers of those who were killed during Saddam’s war with Iran, against the Kurds in the late 1980’s and then against the Kurds and the Shia after the 1991 Gulf War as well as the fact that the Saddam regime used the international sanctions to solidify its hold on power over a beggared and impoverished nation wrecked by years of war.
However in countering Todenhofer’s assumption Romano offers what he suspects would have been had the 2003 overthrow of the Baath regime and the consequential upending of Iraqi society which ensued hadn’t happened. Romano posits the following scenario,
“When the Arab Spring rolled around, we might also have seen a Shiite uprising against Saddam, supported by Teheran and Damascus, that would have competed well with the present carnage in Syria. Instead of Islamic State, we might be writing about the “State of Ali in Mesopotamia and its Environs,” which we could dub “the SAME.” At the same time that Saddam did his best to crush the rebels in Syria the way he did during the 1982 Muslim Brotherhood uprising there.”
I found myself scratching my head at this one, especially regarding ‘SAME’ and where he was coming from there. Is he implying we could possibly have been facing a Daesh-like SHiite group today had Saddam remained in power?
Romano is certainly right on the other hand to debunk the ridiculous notion implied by Todenhofer which insists that had the Baath remained in power that Iraq would not only have remained stable but that it would have been better off as a state and society in the long run. But at the same time these “what-if” scenarios can be of dubious quality at times, and Romano admits as much when he writes, “One might just as easily blame the British and French for creating Iraq and Syria in the first place” whereby the present crisis is concerned.
Having had pondered the question of whether or not Daesh is blowback from the Iraq War this scribbler finds that arguments of this nature are invariably prone to be highly superficial. This is usually due to the simple fact that it is very difficult to summarize the numerous factors that lead to transpiration’s such as Daesh’s recent rampages across Iraq. And, of course, generally it can be very difficult to succinctly evaluate such phenomenon without omitting a lot of relevant factors and information. That goes without saying. Furthermore while it is indeed important to ponder ‘what-if’ questions one mustn’t forget that one cannot be certain that one is right when one insists that ‘had this happened instead the following would be the case.’
Romano undoubtedly understands that, but at the same time he speculates a little too much himself when he counters the aforementioned assertion employed by Todenhofer, but at the same time his counterpoints do not pretend to be assertions and demonstrate that Todenhofer’s assertion that Iraq would be better off, more stable and whatnot, to be by definition flawed since Todenhofer, nor anyone else, can claim to know definitely what would have happened.
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