Posts Tagged 'Iraq'

Dealing with dictators

I rarely comment on political matters (I nearly wrote ‘issues’, but it is a word that is grossly over-used these days), but the other day I attended a talk by Roy Hattersley (a former British politician, now a writer and journalist) and it did make me think. His theme was the period between the two World Wars – the Twenties and Thirties – and he particularly deplored the way theĀ  Great Powers, the victors of WW1, turned a blind eye to the activities of the dictators – Hitler, Mussolini and Franco – thereby encouraging them in their excesses, and making a second world war eventually inevitable.

It made me wonder how far history is repeating itself: extreme and repressive regimes, such as those in Zimbabwe, in Burma, in Iran, are allowed – by the international community, as it is now called – to flourish. If Hattersley is right, they should be checked, as Hitler should have been checked, before they go too far. But, on the other hand we have the unedifying example of Iraq. A brutal dictator was indeed stopped in his tracks, but the outcome has hardly been what was hoped for; a peaceful, liberal democracy in that country still looks a long way off.

I don’t pretend to know the answer. I suppose, as an old man, I am of the view that, if history teaches us anything, it is that there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ solution; but if one country does decide to intervene in the affairs of another it should do so only with an in-depth understanding of what is at stake, and with very detailed plans for what will follow victory. Fail on those points, and a great deal of suffering follows.


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