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Liberal states have always sympathized, or on occasion gone to the aid of, those

‘vanquished’ by illiberal regimes, especially in the last hundred years. Usually

that was with reluctance and after much soul-searching. In the nineteenth century

the leader of that century’s great liberal state, Lord Palmerston, was able to say

that ‘we have no eternal allies and no perpetual enemies’2 and non-intervention

even against those states that were deeply abhorred by British liberal opinion

were (generally) left alone. But also in the last hundred years the ‘Victors’ have

increasingly been liberal states themselves. They have used war and its aftermath

as a means of spreading or confirming an ideology and practice that has become

increasingly self-consciously universal in aspiration and impact. This trend has

now arguably reached its highest, or ‘lowest’, point, depending on your view of

the actions taken in Iraq since 2003.