Do Not Mourn the Brutal Dead
It was my honor to visit a successful Iraq this year, that part of the country longest free from Saddam's control. Despite being surrounded by three hostile and suspicious countries, Iraqi Kurdistan is flourishing with a liberal democracy. I cannot say that everything the Kurdish Regional Government is doing is right, but I can say that they are earnest in their support of the genuine success of those willing to be free. It appears they contrast strongly with Saddam's behavior whenever possible.
Where Saddam concentrated power and wealth to his family, tribe, and sect, Iraqi Kurdistan allows opportunity to anyone who respects the law and will create lasting value.
Where Saddam made the security forces of Iraq an incompetent slave army with a record of pillage and rape, Iraqi Kurdistan has an effective volunteer Peshmerga who are decent professionals. I was not ever concerned that the Peshmerga would rob or abuse me in any of the hundreds of checkpoints I crossed. This was not because I was a valued foreigner, but because I was not there to cause harm.
Where Saddam put the concerns of minority Sunni Arabs over everything in Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government values the contributions of all the many peoples of the region.
Where Saddam drove the economy and industry of the country into the ground, in Iraqi Kurdistan they are building new production capacity...and not just oil. As an example, nations bordering Iraq make beautiful rugs, and they are imported to the country in the middle because sources of revenue not under central control were destroyed by Saddam. Even the Taliban didn't destroy the Afghan rug industry, but they had less time and central authority.
Where Saddam accumulated so much death that we are still finding mass graves and buried arsenals, Iraqi Kurdistan is experiencing the biggest baby boom in the world.
Where Saddam gave his sons and torturers license to steal and rape, the sons and daughters of Kurdish leaders are expected to serve Iraqi Kurdistan in full public scrutiny.
The unflattering comparisons keep going on forever. I do not know if Iraqi Kurdistan would have made so many good decisions without Saddam's excruciating evil to push against. Arguing that Saddam was necessary to create the conditions of Iraqi Kurdistan is insufferably vacuous. He had no capacity to create wealth and power he did not control. The fact remains that Saddam Hussein was a petty, vicious, and criminal tyrant.
Do not mourn the brutal dead. The rest they receive is better than they deserve. Do not yield one more second of the future to them, they have stolen too much already.