Cathy Young modifies Jackson Diehl’s defense of the Iraq war:
There have been predictable cries of outrage at the claim that anyone would welcome a U.S. invasion. But that’s not an outrageous notion unless one wears left-wing blinders: For all the hardships in Iraq, polls consistent [sic] show about half of Iraqis supporting the 2003 invasion.
When we look more closely at recent numbers, we find that the reason that “about half of Iraqis” say this is that Kurdish opinion is overwhelmingly supportive (87-9%). It’s not surprising that the people who suffered by far the least from the effects of the invasion will take a positive view of it. Among the rest of the population, far more see the war as a humiliation of their country than a liberation (48-33%), and more see the invasion as wrong than right, and that is in the present now that the worst of the violence has been over for several years. Earlier in the war, when the occupation was in full swing, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis was opposed to the invasion. The people who can’t grasp this are the ones wearing blinders.
Today, democracy promotion tends to be viewed as naïvely arrogant: who are we to bring freedom to other countries? One answer is that “we” — the United States and other industrial democracies — are, for all our flaws, the possessors of the only working model of a free society, as well as a civilization with unmatched economic, cultural, and military power. There is no arrogance in seeking to advance the universal values of liberty and human rights — as long as we do so with a sense of realism, and of our own limitations.
It is the use of that “unmatched economic, cultural, and military power” to drive political changes in other countries that is arrogant. There is no question about the arrogance required to believe that “we” have a special role to export our institutions and “values,” nor is there is any doubt that one has to be quite arrogant to assume that “we” know how to do this. If we proceeded with a “sense of realism” and of our own “limitations,” we wouldn’t presume to try.