Long before we invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power, anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of Iraqi history understood that, to prevent the country's disintegration as a political entity, a powerful leader was needed to keep the ethnically and religiously divided populace at bay.
Saddam's brutal dictatorship was merely the latest in a long and undistinguished line of autocracies to have imposed their will on this nation of sullen malcontents, starting with the Hashemite monarchy, which relied heavily on Britain to sustain its rule, and the succession of military dictators that established the template of brutal political repression that Saddam was only too happy to imitate.
Had Saddam not developed a penchant for invading his neighbours and threatening vital oil supplies, it is likely the West would have continued to tolerate his domestic barbarity.
One of the excuses for the war that Bush and his minions used to use was that at least we got rid of Saddam. It sort of made sense at the time, though it was clearly just an excuse, but as the bloodshed and chaos continue year after year, you really have to ask whether it was worth it to get rid of Saddam both from the perspective of the average Iraqi, and in a broader political sense.
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