Niall Ferguson is Laurence a Tisch Professor of History at Harvard, a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has been an apologist for perpetual wars in the Middle East for quite some time.
Ferguson is one of the main public intellectuals who has often tried to find his enthusiastic celebration of militancy by beating the war drum and saying explicitly and somewhat diabolically that the United States or Israel should bomb Iran because Iran seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.
Ferguson could make neither heads nor tails of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, and numerous other peoples who were literally decimated by US perpetual wars in the Middle East. In fact, Ferguson supported the destruction of Iraq in 2003. He unflinchingly said then:
“It’s all very well for us to sit here in the West with our high incomes and cushy lives, and say it’s immoral to violate the sovereignty of another state. But if the effect of that is to bring people in that country economic and political freedom, to raise their standard of living, to increase their life expectancy, then don’t rule it out.”
Well, has Iraq produced “democracy” and “freedom”? In order to answer that question, let us summon Andrew Bacevich, retired career officer in the Armor Branch of the United States Army and military historian. He writes in his 2013 study Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed their Soldiers and Their Country:
“Apart from a handful of deluded neoconservatives, no one believes that the United States accomplished its objectives in Iraq, unless the main objective was to commit mayhem, apply a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding, and then declare the patient stable while hastily leaving the scene of the crime…
“The fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacted a huge price from the U.S. military—especially the army and the Marines.
“More than 6,700 soldiers have been killed so far in those two conflicts, and over fifty thousand have been wounded in action, about 22 percent with traumatic brain injuries.
“Furthermore, as always happens in war, many of the combatants are psychological casualties, as they return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs reported in the fall of 2012 that more than 247,000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been diagnosed with PTSD. Many of those soldiers have served multiple combat tours.
“It is hardly surprising that the suicide rate in the U.S. military increased by 80 percent from 2002 to 2009, while the civilian rate increased only 15 percent. And in 2009, veterans of Iraq were twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical American.
“On top of all that, returning war veterans are roughly four times more likely to face family-related problems like divorce, domestic violence and child abuse than those who stayed out of harm’s way.
“In 2011, the year the Iraq War ended, one out of every five active duty soldiers was on antidepressants, sedatives, or other prescription drugs.
“The incidence of spousal abuse spiked, as did the divorce rate among military couples. Debilitating combat stress reached epidemic proportions. So did brain injuries. Soldier suicides skyrocketed.”
Historian John W. Downer, in his book Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, writes: “while the victors preached democracy, they ruled by fiat; while they espoused equality, they themselves constituted an inviolate privileged caste.” That is certainly a classic representation of Ferguson’s perverted ideology.
Now, the man who constantly said that Iraq has to be bomb for seeking nuclear weapons is now saying that Ukraine needs to have nuclear weapons! This is Ferguson at his best:
“Ukraine’s problem is not that we made it a NATO member. Its problem is that we didn’t. We promised, in 2008, that Georgia and Ukraine could be in consideration for NATO membership, and that was an insincere promise. There was never any serious effort to make that happen. The worst possible thing that we can do is to talk about NATO membership without delivering it. That was what made Ukraine so vulnerable.
“One of the most interesting consequences of this war is that all around the world people are going to realize: ‘We need nuclear weapons.’ ‘Look what the Ukrainians did. They gave them up, and now they are in a terrible state.’ So the end of the era of nonproliferation is upon us.
Whatever happens in Ukraine, we will see rapid proliferation of nuclear weapons all around the world, and that is going to make the world a much more dangerous place than at any time since the end of the last Cold War.”
One needn’t be a politician or historian to realize that this formulation is generally dumb. The end of the era of nonproliferation is upon us, but not for Iran! How absurd can it be? How did Ferguson arrive at this arbitrary conclusion is a mystery.
 Niall Ferguson, “Westerners don’t understand how vulnerable freedom is,” Observer, February 2, 2011.
 Andrew Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed their Soldiers and Their Country (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 94, 105.
 John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), 211.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.