One of the most hard-fought points of rhetoric this US presidential cycle was the stance on the 2003 Iraq War held by each of the candidates. Both Trump and Clinton have been on record as having supported the policy and both are now equally keen to distance themselves from it. Barack Obama’s consistency on this point was part of what clinched his Democratic nomination in 2008 against Hillary Clinton, and perhaps even won him the national election against the “rush-to-war” supporter John McCain.
Since the Iraq War, there has emerged an ever-growing consensus that interventionist foreign policies are to be regarded as at best misled and at worst evil.
I bring this up because while the disastrous Aleppo conflct rages on with only bombing and bloodshed on the horizon, Iraq’s army are having a great deal more success in pushing ISIS out of Mosul, the nation’s second biggest city. Iraqi forces have won every battle they have had with ISIS since March 2015, and ISIS have been pushed out of 17 citites in Iraq. These successes can be directly linked to Iraq’s status as a secular democracy. Unlike Assad’s government in Syria, the conflict doesn’t provide them with an excuse to crack down hard on democratic rebels. They are able to accept military aid from the US, but on its own terms, and its rambunxious free press continues to critique the government.
Having a democratic ally able to fight for their own freedom is a credit to our democracy. To see the people of this country fight, to resist the barbarism that is always assumed to be a prerequisit of that part of the world, is to see the value of a policy that works to actively empower those people in the world who refuse to suffer under dictatorship.