Round at the Drink-Soaked Trots and on his own blog, Shuggy has a characteristically thoughtful discussion of Nick Cohen's What's Left? I'm in general sympathy with it, and particularly liked Shuggy's remarks relating to Baathist Iraq and Franco's Spain.
I have one thought on the question he closes with, a question addressed by him to some - unquantifiable but significant - proportion of those who opposed the Iraq war:
if you really did, as you claim, only oppose the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not because of anti-Americanism, or insularity, or indifference, but because you thought that as heinous as it was, any attempt to overthrow Baathism by military means would only make matters worse - why were your hearts not heavy with the knowledge of this hideous choice?I wonder if heaviness of heart is really the thing to focus on. You can't always read this on a person's countenance, and it's a hard one to claim to know. Isn't a better expression of the same point the number of those on the anti-war left who gave no weight to the considerations on the other side of the case, as demonstrated by their failure to allow, in early 2003 or since, that others on the left might have supported the war in good conscience without being blind, bad or stupid? It's this failure, a matter of public pronouncement and irrespective of the state of anyone's heart, that betokens the diminishing, in practice, of the terrible nature of the Baathist regime. That many others who opposed the war managed to do so without falling into the same habit of mind highlights the point.