[John] Humphrys’s point surely was that the Iranians don’t want our kind of democracy. They might prefer one where most of the candidates can’t stand because they are too reformist. Others have argued, more extremely, that in some Islamist cultures women aren’t yearning for the right to education, or to be treated by (male) doctors, or to be anything except shut up in their father’s or husband’s houses. And what is bloody wrong with slavery anyway? Three meals a day. Basic security. The Western idea of freedom isn’t everything.
I am well aware that nothing of the above argument makes what has happened in Iraq the less appalling. Hating the occupiers I could cope with, but I didn’t remotely foresee the insanity — the bloody aimlessness — of blowing up students or day-labourers, with Allah knows what long-term objective in mind. And we in the West can take from that experience the lesson of being careful in the way we intervene, of course. But not — not — that you shouldn’t do it. Not that there shouldn’t be moral foreign policies. Not that we think that democracy, basic human rights or liberty are relative values.
How odd the world has become, that one can be denounced by the mainstream Left for saying that democracy, human rights, and liberty are universal values. But he is.