Mar 23, 2023
Twenty years after the American invasion of Iraq, Damir and Shadi go head-to-head to revisit the right (and wrong) lessons learned. What results is an episode of stark contrasts. Recalling now-regretful supporters of the war, Damir prods Shadi to reconcile his opposition to the war and his claim that Iraq is undoubtedly better off today than it was under Saddam. The two also have a spirited debate about the conditions under which American involvement in hostile autocratic countries is justifiable. Should Iraq be seen as a flawed but rare democratic "success" in the Arab world, or the product of a blunder that cost countless lives – or something else entirely?
The saying goes that hindsight is 20/20, but Shadi argues that the bigger problem may in fact be "hindsight bias," where Iraqis, Egyptians, and other citizens who suffered under dictatorship are unable to remember the past with any clarity.
In Part 2, accessible to subscribers via the Wisdom of Crowds site, the guys come back to a recurring rift between themselves. Damir is skeptical that ordinary civilians can accept democracy as superior when alternatives may be preferable for a host of reasons. Shadi pushes back to argue that while there is no ideal, there may be no genuine alternatives to democracy either, short of violence. They conclude with a surprising exchange that reveals a fundamental tension on the question of whether a good life can be lived under autocracy.
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