After Iraq was "liberated" and Saddam was ousted Iad published several commentaries that while made it clear that I thought the ex-dictator was bloody thug (and worst) also raised a note of caution, suggesting that one day we might miss the guy, in the sense that we ended missing the Russia Czar and the German Kaiser when Stalin and Hitler were in power. In Saddam, Stalin, Hitler and History I had written that:
This is not to dispute that Hussein was a monster like Stalin and Mao — he certainly was. However, the more relevant point to consider is whether whatever or whomever replaces him will be an improvement over the status quo ante.
Might we — and more importantly, the Iraqi people — feel a similar sense of nostalgia toward Saddam Hussein years from now? Let us hope not.
But if the country degenerates into a bloody civil war à la Afghanistan — with weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of warlords and terrorists — then all bets are off.
If parts of Iraq come under the rule of a theocratic Shiite regime, women and Christians wouldn't even enjoy the limited freedom they had under the secular Baath rule.
Will the times and actions of Saddam be sanitized if Iran, equipped with nuclear weapons, becomes the hegemonic power in the entire Persian Gulf?
What will happen if Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia become embroiled in a regional war in which they would carve up Iraq?
Finally, how will the past be reinterpreted if the United States is forced into a lengthy and costly occupation to prevent these scenarios sketched above?
You can imagine the angry emails I'd received after publishing this and similar pieces, and things got even worse after The American Conservative published my Bad For You Too? How the Iraq War disappointed Israel in which I contended that the Iraq War and the entire neocoservative Democracy Project in the Middle East runs contrary to Israeli national security interests:
In short, there is a growing recognition in Israel that the Iraq War was not so good for the Jews. It has diverted attention and resources from the War on Terror and threatened to unleash anti-Israeli and anti-American forces in the Middle East—such as a Shi’ite clerical government in Iraq that could become an ally of a radical Shi’ite, nuclear-armed Iran, which would pose more of a long-term threat to the strategic interests of the Jewish state than the militarily weak Saddam ever did.
Readers suggested that I was out of my mind and that I just didn't know what I was talking about (and these reponses came from both neocon believers as well as critics of the neocons).
Now... guess who is saying exactly the same thing. According to the BBC:
Israel 'may rue Saddam overthrow'
The head of Israel's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, has said his country may come to regret the overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Yuval Diskin said a strong dictatorship would be preferable to the present "chaos" in Iraq, in a speech to teenage Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
He also said the Israeli security services and judiciary treated Arabs and Jewish suspects differently.
A Shin Bet veteran, Mr Diskin took over as Shin Bet's chief in May.
When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos. I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam
His speech to the students at the Eli settlement as they prepared for military service was secretly recorded and broadcast on Israeli TV.
When asked about the growing destabilisation of Iraq, Mr Diskin said Israel might come to rue its decision to support the US-led invasion in 2003.
"I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."