Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Opinion (Anna Badkhen): What if there had been no war?

As a Shiite living in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Thanaa al-Taee eked out an existence in a totalitarian state that oppressed her religious sect, cracked down on ethnic minorities, and silenced dissent by torturing and executing opponents who dared criticize the despotic regime.

Now, watching sectarian bloodshed rip apart her country, al-Taee wonders if the war that toppled Hussein's dictatorship was worth it.

"I have a conflict with myself about what happened to us, Iraqis," al-Taee, 38, who had worked at a Baghdad art gallery before fleeing to Bahrain in 2004, wrote in a recent e-mail after visiting her parents in Baghdad. "Do you think this is better for us?"

It is also the question on the minds of scholars and military experts in the United States, including the architect of the "shock and awe" campaign that helped bring down Hussein's regime. Four years after the United States invaded Iraq, these observers contemplate what Iraq would have looked like today had the Bush administration decided not to go to war.

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle