The folly and criminality of the invasion of Iraq can be conclusively seen in the fact that no good outcome is now possible — there are merely a range of undesirable alternatives from which one must choose. Continued US occupation will only see increased bloodshed by the occupying forces, who will abandon any restraint or pretence in a situation where the enemy and the populace are becoming one. The transfer of authority to the United Nations may be preferable but it will not stop the conflict, merely give it a different target — one the Iraqis have no love for, after a decade of UN-administered sanctions. Withdrawal, the least worst option, will usher in an era of unknowable instability with an equally uncertain resolution.
The Americans and their supporters will argue that these difficulties will not deter them from finishing the job and, by that logic, the situation will rapidly reach the condition in which it is necessary to destroy the village in order to save it. In order to establish actually-existing democracy they have now begun the task of manufacturing consent, with an Arab language satellite TV station (whose newsrooms are on the US mainland) to compete with Al-Jazeera and others, and the banning of newspapers which do not work within the authorised range of commentary. They will paint the Saddam Hussein regime as genocidal, even though it had long since lapsed into being a standard- issue thug dictatorship — from powerlessness rather than moral improvement — and did not present a sufficiently murderous threat to its own people to warrant the destruction of basic order. Given that Baathist party police chiefs have now been quietly reinstalled in many villages, it will be seen that they were never serious about the high priority of establishing a genuine civil society in the first place. Left-liberal supporters of the war such as Christopher Hitchens or Pamela Bone will either admit to fundamental errors or complete the journey towards outright reaction, blind to any notion that the interests of the West and those of humanity in general can be in contradiction. We will see more clearly, as John Hinkson notes, the forces and ways of thought that are trying to push us towards ever greater conflagrations, and we will see, in the collapse of the legitimicy of military humanitarianism (for that is what is happening now) whether power will not find a greater populace ranged against it now that it has no lies left to tell.