04 May 2009

"Liberated" Iraq.

Here's news that comes as no surprise: gay-bashing is on the rise in Iraq. Whenever I see stories like these, I have to ask whether most Iraqis were better off (leaving aside the existential question of their "freedom") under Saddam Hussein. When it comes to gay rights, there are mixed messages. This Wikipedia entry on the subject tends to paint a rosy picture of conditions before the invasion. Meanwhile, here's a blog entry from 2006 that darkens that picture, suggesting that Saddam was no friend of the international gay-rights agenda and that his government often turned a blind eye to gay-bashing, as is a dictator's prerogative. As a rule, one should not take the letter of the law as the last word on actual conditions in dictatorships. The Soviet Union had one of the most liberal constitutions ever, we're told, but it was all for show. But if it can be shown that violence against homosexuals has gone up since the invasion, then the blame must go to the U.S. to a considerable extent. If it can't be shown immediately that Saddam would have prevented these crimes, it can be shown that removing him empowered factions more inclined to attack gays than Saddam probably ever was.

Of course, there will be some temptation to blame Obama because this is happening while the U.S. is on the way out. Whoever makes that argument should be reminded that none of this would be happening the way it is now if we hadn't invaded the country in the first place. Unless they can show that Bush took explicit steps to protect homosexuals that Obama has abandoned, the blame remains on the invader's head.

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