Melanie Phillips

14 April 2003

The hatchet-faced idealists

Published in: Daily Mail

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Completely unabashed, the people who got this war so totally wrong at every turn are still making a rotten call.

The liberation of Iraq has brought anarchy and disorder in its wake. For the last few days, there have been awful scenes of looting, intimidation and violence in Baghdad, Basra and other cities. How can anyone be surprised? It is entirely predictable that the vacuum left by the overthrow of the existing power - and before the war has even ended -- will produce disorder.

Now, the Americans and British are responding by flying in civilian and military police to impose calm. It was always going to be difficult to build the institutions of law and order in Iraq after thirty years of Saddam's police state.

Yet extraordinarily, it seems that for the anti-war lobby the police state would actually have been preferable. The current civil disorder is merely the latest stick with which to beat the Americans. At every stage of the war, these armchair appeasers predicted disaster; at every stage, they were proved wrong. Now, with military victory almost complete, they are willing the peace to fail.

Yes, of course there are huge dangers of civil war or a slide into another tyranny. But to lose no opportunity to oppose or undermine the liberation of people who have suffered so grievously under one of the world's most disgusting regimes is nothing short of moral bankruptcy.

The fact is that if the appeasement tendency had had its way, the Iraqi people would still be living in terror of torture, oppression, murder and genocide. How can so many sentient people in the west so comprehensively lose the plot like this?

But of course, this is hardly the first time. Left wing intellectuals have been lending their support to terror ever since the French Revolution. From Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot, the left has supported or made excuses for the oppression and slaughter of its fellow citizens whose fate was dismissed as the necessary sacrifice for the fantasies of revolutionary socialism.

In the forties George Orwell, that implacable left-wing enemy of all tyrannies, devastatingly analysed the support of the 'enlightened' intellectual classes for Stalinism, as well as their extreme reluctance to grasp the threat of fascism until Hitler was well on the way to world domination.

The intellectuals' blindness, wrote Orwell, was due to a combination of factors: an innate defeatism, a disaffection with Britain which made them side with its enemies -- and most disturbing of all, a worship of crude power which actually made them admire the cruelty and demonic energy of both Stalinism and Fascism.

This analysis holds true today. Insufferably, the left claims the moral high ground for such loathsome attitudes. But the really bad mistake it has now made in appeasing Saddam's regime has illuminated a startling reversal of political roles.

Traditionally, the left has been associated with progressive change and the optimism that derives from wanting to make the world a better place. The right, by contrast, has been associated with a pessimistic resistance to change, a belief that because man is a fallen creature reform is pointless. One might say it was a division between na

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography

Books

  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

Contact Melanie

Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie