It Became Their Fault
By Joseph Grosso
26 December, 2006
One of the more vulgar turns
discourse over Iraq has taken over the past year is the bi-partisan,
self-righteous way the bloody debacle is blamed almost entirely on the
Iraqi people. The near universal sentiment, from California democrat
Barbara Boxer to neocon Charles Krauthammer, is one of ungrateful, incapable
Iraqis spurning generous American assistance.
As usual at the forefront of reactionary enthusiasm is Bill O’Reilly,
surely as big a legend in his own mind as can be, on his radio show
on June 17th responding to an AP poll that found only 2 percent of Iraqis
view American troops as liberators. O’Reilly stated:
When 2 percent of the population feels that you’re doing them
a favor, just forget it; you’re not going to win… And I
don’t have any respect by and large for the Iraqi people at all.
I have no respect for them. I think they’re a prehistoric group
that is…And this teaches us a big lesson, that we cannot intervene
in the Muslim world ever again. What we can do is bomb the living daylights
out of them….
While one would expect a nativist, conservative loudmouth like O’Reilly
to express such banter, some may be slightly surprised to read a more
eloquent version by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times on November 8th.
Surveying what he feels are the remaining options for the U.S. in Iraq,
“tolerable” stability over democracy or “awful”
ciaos after a U.S. withdrawal, Friedman writes:
A U.S. withdrawal under such conditions would be messy and shameful.
But when people are that intent on killing each other, there’s
not much we can do. As badly as we’ve performed in Iraq, what
Iraqis have done to each other, and the little that other Muslims have
done to stop them, is an even bigger travesty.
Friedman does try to see some specks of light in the darkness by speculating
that Syria and Iran would be on different sides of a Sunni-Shiite civil
war and envisioning $80 a barrel oil “That would mean more people
buying hybrid cars and investing in alternative energy, so that we end
our dependence on this region sooner.”
with “this region”, and his expressed concern for its lack
of democracy, is odd considering his lack of emphasis on undemocratic
nature of American statecraft. The still barely spoken secret in the
mainstream media is that from the CIA backed coup that destroyed Iranian
democracy and brought the Shah to power, to decades long support for
dictatorship in Egypt, to its Faustian bargain with the House of Saud,
to the annual billions of dollars given to Israel, American policy towards
the Middle East remains consistently undemocratic.
The American record in Iraq wouldn’t read a whole lot better-
Iraq itself being, along with Central Africa, one of the more toxic
products of European imperialism. The dirty list of American policies
would include support for the coup that brought the Sunni dominated
Baath Party to power, support for Saddam’s war against Iran, numerous
sell-outs of the Shiites and Kurds, a war that confirmed the Baath Party
in power followed by a decade long sanctions regime that killed countless
thousands while strengthening a ruthless dictator, and an arrogant,
sloppy invasion and occupation.
The spectacularly banal
Maureen Dowd, in her New York Times November 15th column, criticizes
the neocons for selling their war on two big lies: “that Saddam
had W.M.D. and that the Iraqis were yearning for democracy.” The
first of these is now long exposed; however what are we to make of the
second? Does Dowd mean to imply that Iraqis are culturally undemocratic,
part of a larger region too inherently retarded for genuine democracy-
or perhaps too masochistically accustomed to being oppressed, as if
more than a half-century totalitarian rule and Western policy of the
most heinous kind isn’t a recipe for chaotic explosions. Should
such logic be that far removed from a Times columnist?
With the long overdue sacking
of Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary coupled with the dreadful return
of the realpolitiks, including the news from Bob Woodward that Kissinger
himself is frequently advising the White House, one shudders to think
of the sort atrocities and sell-outs that may unfold in Iraq by way
of Kissinger, Gates, and company. Even with the Iraq Study Group somewhat
discredited, one still fears the recent media attention surrounding
Pinochet’s death will only serve as a further reminder to the
glorious potential of a cooperative, economically obedient strong-man.
It’s at least a very
decent bet that as the Bush Administration winds down into the night
all the talk of spreading democracy will be trumped by the age old obsessive
need for “stability”, that our government will continue
to play the patron to dictatorships from Egypt to Pakistan, and while
some of the democracy rhetoric will be heard, American policy will continue
to make sure that all possible obstructions will be placed in the way
of democracy’s advancement justified with the supposedly now tested,
whispered regret that “they” are not ready. If that’s
the case citizens of countries throughout the region will have to continue
to fester under an unjust status quo confirmed by American power.
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