For many of those who opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein this is hard to accept. Some opposed the liberation of Iraq out of an anti-American reflex. After all, anti-Americanism, at times with a dose of anti-Semitism added for good measure, is what is left of many old ideologies ranging from Communism to Khomeinism. In the US, from 2006 onwards, opposition to the war in Iraq was the backbone of a Left unable to find a new ideological niche. After all, Barack Obama created his electoral machine with the help of anti-war militants.
To all of the above, the prospect of success in Iraq is a blasphemy brought about through a sacrilege. They would dearly love to see Iraq relapse into violence and chaos so that they could claim they had been right in opposing action to remove Saddam Hussein. Some late opponents of the war who had initially supported the removal of Saddam Hussein, Vice-President Joe Biden for example, would settle for a dismemberment of Iraq so that they could claim that "the Bush project" had failed. (Biden wrote the introduction to a book suggesting that Iraq be divided into three or more mini-states.) As for Obama, so keen was he to make Americans forget Iraq that he engineered a hasty total withdrawal at a time when Iraqi parties were united in their demand that the US maintain a significant military presence for many more years.
Obama has tried to keep relations with Iraq as low-profile as possible. Apart from kissing the hand of the Saudi King Abdullah, the US president makes a point of "consulting" other Arab allies while keeping Iraq at arm's length. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spends a good part of her time in Arab capitals other than Baghdad, making sure that Arab allies are consulted on a range of issues, most recently the popular uprising in Syria. Iraq, however, is pointedly left out of the loop. This is both unwise and sad. For Iraq may be the only Arab state at this point where the US is genuinely popular — because it is seen as a liberator that manifested an unexpected degree of altruism.
Nothing is likely to change the minds of diehard nostalgists for Saddam Hussein. To them, the liberation of Iraq is akin to the concept of original sin, a monstrous error that nothing could reverse. Even when they are forced to admit that Iraq may be doing better than most other Arab nations, they would still claim that "the Bush project" has failed because Iraq has become a satellite of the Khomeinist regime in Tehran. That claim, too, does not check against reality.
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