25 MARCH 2006, Page 22

The joys of democracy

From William Shawcross

Sir: Rod Liddle may blithely assert that ‘of course, for the vast majority of Iraqis life was much better’ under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein (‘Let’s just admit that Iraq was a disaster’, 18 March). But no Iraqi I know believes that. Instead they tend to say that, for all the problems, they now have hope which was impossible under Saddam.

In the period since liberation, which Mr Liddle dismisses with such knowing con tempt, a hideous and terrifying one-party state has been dismantled, and millions of Iraqis have participated with unconcealed joy in a series of local and national elections and a constitutional referendum, freer than any elections in the Middle East. Iraqis are of course dismayed by the mistakes and the failures of the Coalition. But I find it astonishing that Mr Liddle should choose to blame the horrific violence that we see in parts of Iraq (only parts) on the US and Britain. The Sunni terrorist leader in Iraq, al-Zarkawi, has made it clear time and again that his policy is to murder as many Iraqis as possible in order to create a civil war and destroy all hope of a better future for the entire Middle East.

How strange that such a clever and humane man as Mr Liddle should prefer to condemn those who are seeking to help Iraqis rather than those who are trying to slaughter them.

William Shawcross St Mawes, Cornwall