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Mugged by Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions by John Agresto|
|John Agresto has written a cogent and quotable pro-freedom and pro-Western yet unmerciful critique of the overthrow of Saddam and the failure of the allies to set up a stable state in the aftermath of his regime.|
Agresto argues that our failure is primarily due to the fact that we have forgotten ourselves how our own democracy was created, that self-rule and local control was an almost two-century fact on the ground before we became an independent nation. Democracy is not magic, not a gift of God, not something that arises spontaneously, and not something like the writing of the Iraqi Constitution that should bve left to the UN because, quoting George Bush "They're good at that sort of thing." They [the UN] are not, says Agresto, we are - or at least we used to be. The US Constitution was designed with large representative districts to prevent localized factions from rising to power. Democracy in itself is not even necessarily a good thing, Agresto reaffirms that safety and human rights are primary, and that bad governments can arise through a democratic process. In Iraq, through embracing proportional representation, allowing religion and hence factionalism to be enshrined in the countries institutions, and by empowering the loudest and most radical voices we have hamstrung the democratic mechanism and have forced the populace that spat-upon and kicked Saddam's toppled statue to retreat to tribal and sectarian thugs for their protection.
Agresto bewails a campaign led by slogans: "Don't all men desire freedom?" Ask "a false question," he says, "get a false answer." "Democracy is messy." This has served to rationalize our dereliction of our duty by standing back and say "Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is none of our business. "Islam is a religion of peace" may or may not be true he says, admitting that he is in no position to determine what "True Islam" is. But whatever true Islam is, even an atheist has to admit that it is hard to imagine Jesus beheading people, and not all too difficult to understand why some followers of Mohammed might view decapitation as a normal political and civic tool. Rather than being guided by realism, and informed principles, and backed up by adequate force, our actions in Iraq have been ruled by wishful thinking and the result is that we, like the author, have been mugged by reality.
Agresto ends his book with an analysis of religious sectarianism and its implications for the next century. Agresto argues that the leftist pretense that all religions are equally valid "lifestyle" choices is a disastrous mistake. Indeed it is not the other hoary old leftist "causes" of war: Western imperialism, rapacious capitalism, evil old white men or "misunderstandings" which solely lead to armed conflict. He views this century as one that will struggle with militant Islam as a seductive cult of death that will make communism pale as an enemy.
Agresto spoke on BookTV. It is likely that the showing will be repeated.