To understand all is to forgive all?

Today I understand a bit more why Dubya was so intent on taking Saddam down. I'm reading A Pretext for War (which, by the way, contains a fair bit of overlap with the later material in Body of Secrets) and Bamford's exposition of the plot against Bush Sr. and the rest of the Bush family when they came to Kuwait just after Clinton's inauguration made things a trifle clearer.

I understand now much better why he would be so motivated, and he has my sympathy though not my approval. Until now I was thinking it was no more than a little boy finishing what his Daddy started -- another honourable motive, but not a mature enough one for a national leader. And vengeance on someone who tried to kill your family is, at least in the eyes of most, also an honourable motive. My quibbles with that view aside, I submit that fulfillment of a personal vendetta should not be the animus behind the actions of any national leader.

In short, I can understand his actions, even forgive him as an individual for his actions and their reasons -- as far as that goes, to understand all is to forgive all. Still, I cannot exonerate those actions nor acclaim their reasons as valid.

26,000,000 people should not be made to pay for their tyrant's plans. Perhaps they will be better off in the end without Saddam at the helm. But democracy doesn't come by the barrel of the gun. It's a long slow process, a crop that needs to be sown -- and often re-sown many times -- that originally took centuries: like the time between the Magna Carta and the last time the British monarch over-rode the under-democratic House of Commons (Queen Anne, 18th century) -- that even took half a century with a much higher toll of blood in France. China's odyssey on that road is not yet done (farewell, Zhao, man before your time, such as you are never welcome in your own time).

But what about the post-colonial independence binge? There were some success stories there, but not very many. How many decades will it take before a government that looks democratic from the outside will take root in the Middle East? Military action hasn't brought that date nearer, and that you may tie to.

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