Monday, February 14, 2011

Who Would Win in a Showdown: Gandhi or a Nazi?

I'm feeling political tonight.

This post at Goldblog reminded me of arguments I had with people back at the start of the Iraq War.

With the ongoing revolution in Egypt, some people are piping up with the claim that if we'd just stayed out of Iraq, the people there might have eventually risen up and overthrown Saddam without foreign intervention.

People were making that claim 8 years ago, citing the remarkable and virtually unique example of Gandhi vs. British colonials. I remember regularly making the argument then that Gandhi was lucky he was up against Britain and not, say, the Nazis. How long do you think it would have taken an SS officer to put a bullet in Gandhi's head the minute he started his passive resistance movement? Britain had a vested interest in not engaging in the wholesale slaughter of thousands of Indians. They had allies and status and trade to maintain.

Saddam hardly had any reason to worry about the International Community's image of him if he had to slaughter thousands of young protesters looking for his ouster. So the comparison is not apt.

Revolution from within would likely never have come. I'm not looking to debate once again the merits, or lack thereof, of the invasion of Iraq. But I think it's important not to live in some fantasy world in which thuggish dictators are not really as bad as our government would have us think, and patience and the will of their people will eventually drive them out.

What's happened in Egypt is incredible. And as much as Mubarak was a dictator, his was one of the least oppressive regimes in the Middle East. That doesn't make the revolution any less significant for the people of Egypt, but let's not pretend that Libya or Iran are next.

1 comment:

  1. Who knows what the results of the protests in Libya will bring in the end, but this is what I'm talking about with dictators who won't be pushed around and instead open fire on unarmed demonstrators:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/the-libyan-nightmare/71523/

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