Some of you might've watched David Aaronovitch lock horns with George Galloway on Question Time back in April. It was a refreshing sight, George Galloway insisted that the unpopularity of New Labour comes down to the Party's responsibility for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq which caused the deaths of over 1 million people. He went further to denote the trilateral consensus on foreign policy as well as on domestic economic affairs. It was a welcome sight to see Yvette Cooper being put on the spot over Afghanistan and Iraq. That being said it was quite something to see Mr Galloway trying to outdo Aaronovitch in a bout of mudslinging over Abu Qatada. Gorgeous George even slagged off Aaronovitch for the years he spent as a Communist. This spectacle reminds one of Galloway's flaws. But I suppose it's too late to rise above the tide of sewerage flowing through the streets of Whitehall. Aaronovitch is one of a few journos to leap across the chasm between the anti-establishment Left and the Right over questions of humanitarian intervention.
Imagine taking on the project of setting up moral freedom under conditions that had yet to see civil freedom. There is a similarity with the dilemma that the Russian revolutionaries were confronted with just before the October Revolution of 1917. The Mensheviks argued that the end of Tsarism in Russia would have to be followed by a period of bourgeois democratic capitalism in order for socialism to be attained later on. The Bolsheviks thought that an alliance of workers and peasants could hasten the development of capitalism in a democratic framework. It's easy to take a side here and even easier to forget that Karl Marx had been willing to support democratic nationalism. You can find this when Marx expressed support for Abraham Lincoln, the abolition of slavery and ultimately the bid to maintain the American union. Another instance of democratic nationalism was when Marx supported the reunification of Germany for the cause of opening the passage to socialism by strengthening the capitalist system. He later backed off of this position.
Perhaps in the hope that socialism was a historical inevitability Marx had held that there had to be a period of bourgeois rule before the working-class could triumph in Germany. The inevitability of capitalist decline would open up the space for political agency and revolution. This could be taken as though injustice now may be necessary for justice later. We should resist such a teleological reading, Marx was neither a cold determinist nor a teleological snake-charmer. He acknowledges that history could culminate in the "common ruination" of all classes and provides an excellent description of human freedom in the Brumaire. Nevertheless, we shouldn't forget Marx in the moments when he praises free-trade and the middle-class legacy of human rights and civil liberties. In his mind a democratic culture is a vital precondition for socialism. By contrast, in Aaronovitch's mind, to hold free-elections was the reason to bomb Afghanistan as well as the justification for and ultimately the function of the intervention - democracy by airstrike.
It could just as easily be claimed that Saddam would've been overthrown by the Iraqi people in the Arab Spring given the crippled state of the Iraqi military. That's not something Hitchens was ready to concede. It's interesting, Hitchens told his friend James Fenton that Iraq will become is an American protectorate - overtaking Saudi Arabia in this role in the Middle East - and the base for the export of democracy. This comes out of the Jeffersonian vision of an imperial America which promotes freedom and democracy at every turn. To export the American Revolution was reason enough to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the primary justification and function of the intervention (until the wars got under way at least). There is no third camp between Islamism and Americanism. Only a democratic strike against totalitarianism can be made to defeat the forces of nihilism and take the side of the victim against the oppressor. Notice, this is compatible with his view that Indian democracy was a necessary by-product from the period of British colonial rule.
It's not as easy to remember that the British had no intention of establishing a democratic India independent of the empire complete with a socialist constitution. The same goes for the instance of the demise of European Fascism and the emergence of democracy in Germany and Italy. The outcome slotted neatly into the imperial ambitions of the Allies, the British were looking to takeout the Continental rivals to secure India while the US was looking to wipe-out the European competition. The elections in Iraq were a by-product, not the creation of a benevolent strike to build democracy through "shock therapy". Rather the elections were a means to legitimize a series of illegal economic reforms imposed soon after the invasion. The best outcome, for the Americans, would have been a Sunni military junta but in the end Washington had to compromise. But that was not guaranteed from the outset. It was the horrors of the war that were easily foreseeable from that stance.