China is furious that dissident Liu Xiaobo won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Joining its boycott are Russia, Cuba, and Iraq. Morally, Iraq’s decision to join the boycott is disgusting, especially given what Iraqis suffered under dictatorship and the price Iraqi dissidents paid between 1968 and 2003.
The Iraqi decision is a stark demonstration of how the White House has squandered its influence by emphasizing its withdrawal absent much effort to develop a post-withdrawal relationship. Whatever one thinks of the decision to invade Iraq, it is diplomatic and strategic malpractice to write off the U.S.-Iraq relationship because of spite toward George W. Bush.
As a side note, the Iraqi Kurdish government has yet to announce whether it will send representatives to witness Xiaobo’s award ceremony. Once upon a time, Kurdish participation would have been a no-brainer. But as Kurdish authorities assassinate journalists and slap billion-dollar law suits on journalists who dare criticize the Barzani family’s corruption, it is quite possible that Kurdish authorities now sympathize more with repressive governments than with democracies.