"Everybody's for democracy in principle. It's only in practice that the thing gives rise to stiff objections."
~ Meg Greenfield.
~ Meg Greenfield.
Now that President Bush has spoken and I'm awaiting the transcript, it might be instructive to review the ideologues behind the push for war, and what they're doing now. As The American Conservative notes, ". . . there seems to be no accountability for these pro-war pundits. On the contrary, they continue to pose as wise, responsible experts and have suffered no lost credibility, prominence, or influence."
AEI's Michael Ledeen now denies that he wanted any war, and feels no remorse because he had nothing to do with Iraq War plans. However, here is a sampling of Ledeen's prewar statements from August and September, 2002:
“One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today.”
In an August 2002 interview with FrontPage Magazine, when Jamie Glazov asked when the war should begin. Ledeen answered, “Yesterday.”
"I think that if President Bush is to be faulted for anything in this so far, it’s that he’s taken much too long to get on with it, much too long."
"Saddam Hussein is a terrible evil, and President Bush is entirely right in vowing to end his reign of terror. If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support. [I]t is impossible to imagine that the Iranian people would tolerate tyranny in their own country once freedom had come to Iraq. Syria would follow in short order."
The last quote is standard for that part of neocon ideology which holds that if you just give democracy to a people that has been brutalized by a US-supported regime, everything will instantly fall into place so you don't need to do any post-war reconstruction planning. It also overlooks the fact that Iraq is an unnatural state forced into being by colonialists for the purpose of dominating oil production. Pointing to the Kurdish experiment in democracy as an example doesn't count either, because Kurds are not Arabs. Besides, the quasi-democracy in South Kurdistan already has 14 years of practice, which included a politically-motivated civil war--not an ethnic or sectarian one. At this date, South Kurdistan suffers from serious problems, in spite of the advertising campaign of the Kurdistan Development Corporation, and in the face of a possible spring offensive by America's greatest ally in the region, Turkey.
That's the jumping off point for the next hypocrite, Charles Krauthammer, a guy much more a propagandist than an ideologue. Or perhaps we should refer to him as the media's version of Chicken Little; however, instead of shrieking that the sky was falling, Krauthammer shrieked that WMDs were ready to fall. Nowadays, he's chief propagandist for the It's-the-Iraqis'-Fault bandwagon:
[T]he problem here is Iraq’s particular political culture, raped and ruined by 30 years of Hussein’s totalitarianism. Is this America’s fault? No. It is a result of Iraq’s first democratic election. It was never certain whether the long-oppressed Shiites would have enough sense of nation and sense of compromise to govern rather than rule. The answer is now clear: United in a dominating coalition, they do not.
Again, there's the incredible naivete of the neocon with his head in the clouds, thinking that democracy just happens. Are we expected to believe that these experts suddenly have figured out something of contemporary Iraqi history and now the realization dawns upon them that there were 30 years of brutality by the US-sponsored Saddam government? On second thought, perhaps I should revise my description of this being an example of having one's head in the clouds, because only discovering the reality of Saddam's Iraq after going to war is more accurately an example of having one's head up one's ass.
Of course, the neocons, and the US in general, really don't give a damn about what happened to people in Iraq under their boy, Saddam, any more than they are willing to admit their own fecklessness in not pushing for a complete reconstruction plan as rabidly as they pushed for war. Flashback to American forces guarding Saddam's oil ministry while Baghdadis went wild with looting. That iconic juxtaposition was the green light for the disaster in Baghdad, and the rest of Arab Iraq, at this very moment. The US did not care about mayhem; it only cared about the oil. Arab Iraq caught the ball and ran with it.
The Old Guard of American politics--people like Scowcroft, Baker, Hamilton, et al--got the message too, but they waited. Now they and their oil corporations are going to run the show and the neocon nonsense of "spreading democracy" will be out the window. The US does not spread democracy because real democracy is impossible to control. Just look at Europe's response to the war. Was the US able to control their opposition? No. Neither does the US want stability in the region; it wants controllability, and if controllability means low-intensity conflict, such as has been going on in Turkey for so many decades, then that is what we will have.
The US does not want democracy in Iran, either. It wants regime change. Regime change does not equal democracy. Regime change does not stabilize the region, but it does stabilize US hegemony.
More on that later.
The president's speech transcript is available now at CBS News. There is no mention of oil, but lots of talk of ideology and democracy, in spite of Republican pundit Peggy Noonan's claim, quoted in The American Conservative article, that " Republican political veterans go easy on ideology, but they’re tough on incompetence." But then, she's beat a cowardly retreat behind Baker-Hamilton.
In listening to the speech tonight, I found one portion ironic in light of the situation of Kurds under Turkish occupation:
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy — by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom and help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
Now that last sentence is interesting in light of the history of the region. If it's in the interests of the US to stand with brave people "who [ ] risk[ ] their lives to claim their freedom and help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East," then why hasn't the US done this during the fifty years that it's had a close alliance with Turkey? What about those brave Kurds under Turkish occupation, who've suffered the worst brutality from "valuable" NATO ally, Turkey? Why has the US assisted Turkey in its brutality against the Kurdish people, thus destroying their freedom and any chance at a "just and hopeful societ[y]" in Turkey? Why has the US rejected the PKK ceasefire, and any possibility of peaceful political settlement, such as the one offered by the PKK in August?
How is that rejection consistent with the continued blathering about "democracy" and "just and hopeful societies" in the region?
Moreover, how is it that the US takes the side of extremists in Turkey, the ruling elite, in other words, who have killed tens of thousands of innocents in the last 23 years alone, along with having destroyed much of the Kurdish way of life in order to impose the hateful ideology of one ethnicity, one language, one nation . . . so reminiscent of "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer"? Why has the US provided no "hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology" of the fascist Ankara regime?
Why? Because it ain't about democracy.
On a number of occasions I've complained about South Kurdistan's dependence on imports at the expense of a viable economic base of its own. Well, it looks like I'm not the only one to have made the observation. Take a look at this, from Semistate:
I currently don’t have enough time, space, or intelligence to fully flesh out an argument I am about to present. However, wanted to throw it out there, and add to it in the coming days.
The central thesis is this: the economic boom in Kurdistan is not sustainable nor really an economic boom. [ . . . ] It’s true, buildings are being built at a tremendous rate here, especially Hawler. It would be really sweet if then inside these buildings, someone made something, and then sold it. Alas, this will not happen. Rather, inside the new markets and mall’s slippery white-tiled floors, brickety-brack, fruit, vegetables, and other crap from, uh, everywhere else, will be sold.
Don’t get me wrong. This place is doing much better than the rest of Iraq. But danger is afoot. Iraqi Kurdistan has a slight problem. As a region, it doesn’t make anything. Go to a market, you got your tomatoes from Syria, clothes from Turkey, nuts from Iran, but you will not see anything from Kurdistan other than the people selling the goods.
[ . . . ]
Now, 95% of the KRG’s budget is coming through Baghdad, and over 60% of this money is going into government salaries. Seriously. This place is incredibly dependent on the government to support the economy in a very direct way, by providing for a huge amount of the public’s income.
The Kurds have become big consumers, buying goods (including the ubiquitous satellite TV) from all over. But they don’t make anything, in either the agriculture or the industrial sector. And the lion’s share of the money their survival is depending on is coming from—oh crap—Baghdad. Does this sound sustainable to anyone?
In a word: No.
See? I don't complain just to hear my head rattle.