Daniel Korski

The neocons were right

The neocons were right
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When your face has been slammed into a concrete pavement, as you take cover from the mortar fire, you struggle to think the best of your fellow man.

I certainly did. I cursed the Iraqis who were firing at me, and swore at the Iranians who were arming them. Most of all, I thought "what the hell are you doing here, you idiot?" I could have stayed in my diplomatic posting in Washington, DC. I could have been satisfied with my work in Bosnia and Afghanistan. But I had to go to Basra. Duty, a hunt for adventure, a worry I was missing out and a feeling that we, I, you and me, owed it to the Iraqis to rebuild their country whatever the rights and wrongs of the original invasion, had led me to go. We brought the regime down, I thought, we had to build the country up.  

Now my face was in the concrete, my heart was in my throat and my courage had abandoned me. The Iraqis seemed locked in a never-ending sectarian conflict and I could not see how it would end in the kind of success that our political leaders seemed to expect.

How wrong I was. Though many, many people were to die, violence eventually calmed and an increasingly non-violent form of politics began to emerge, with the constitutional settlement created by the US precluding the emergence of a new strongman. With the secular leader Iyad Allawi now poised to win the Iraqi election - his party has two more seats than incumbent PM Nouri Maliki, pending a potential challenge - the country's stabilisation continues posthaste.  

That is nothing short of amazing given how violent and entrenched the conflict was and it deserves celebration akin to a minor VE Day. There won't be one, though. Here, people are more focused on what happened in the past, not what is taking place in Iraq now.

But at Coffee House we will be celebrating - neoconservatives, normal conservatives and liberals alike. For though the price of Iraqi democracy was high, some will say too high, and the fallout of the invasion was considerable, there is no denying that a new, freer, better society is emerging. An Islamic Middle Easten democracy is in the making in Iraq; something I hoped for, but doubted I would see, when my face was in the Basra dirt.

Congratulations, Iraq, for defying the diplomatic Cassandras.