Empty Days

Friday, April 23, 2004



On the role of high ideals in Realpolitik

After Billmon's blog editorial on "the state of the nation" in USA, here we have a National Review editorial on the same subject - and bombasting away at those who question current policies and their executors. Ostensibly, the idea is to discredit "leftist myths" about american actions in the world. While this might be a good idea, it really turns bad and unconvincing when all you do is try to portray the bright side and act as if the dark side was never there to begin with.

I'll pass all the stuff that bears easy rebuttal (precisely on account of consistently omitting the bad stuff - so all you need to do is put together the totality of facts and Hanson's theory immediately falls apart: simply because it doesn't look bright enough in the full light of actual evidence). One superb example of this:
Perhaps the absurdity of the politics of the Middle East is best summed up by the recent visit of King Abdullah of Jordan, a sober and judicious autocrat, or so we are told. As the monarch of an authoritarian state, recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual American aid, son of a king who backed Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War...
Well, does this sound like a damning accusation to you? Yes indeed. Now, if this is a damning accusation, what do we do with the obvious fact of USA supporting both Saddam and Bin Laden when it suited its interests? I think we have a problem here - the whole of Hanson's article is based on this convenient and methodical "forgetting to mention" the other side of the medal. Therefore who does it aim at? Well, it aims either at very uninformed readers (who've simply never heard of some of those "ancient" facts of USA politics - and there are quite a few of those, let me tell you) or it aims at readers who are as ready to "forget" as is Hanson himself. In which case I don't see what this article is there for except yet another dab at old-time propaganda - we're all good and they're all bad :-0

But here's the reason I decided to respond to this hopelessly bombastic op-ed:
On the bright side, there has not been another 9/11 mass-murder. And this is due entirely to our increased vigilance, the latitude given our security people by the hated Patriot Act, and the idea that the war (not a DA's inquiry) should be fought abroad not at home.
....
This war was always a gamble, but not for the reasons many Americans think. We easily had, as proved, the military power to defeat Saddam; we embraced the idealism and humanity to eschew realpolitik and offer something different in the place of mass murder. And we are winning on all fronts at a cost that by any historical measure has confirmed both our skill and resolve.
This is precisely the reason this war is such a big problem for such a lot of people, as opposed to the invasion of Afghanistan - it should be noted. Hanson pretends not to see the difference: piling everything together as he does throughout, in hope of building a case by obfuscating facts and inconvenient contradictions. Yet this difference is crucial because it clearly shows the truth of the matter.

Simple question: why did USA invade Afghanistan after 9/11 ? The answer is obvious and there is only one answer: because the terrorists who torpedoed WTC had their base in Afghanistan's Taliban country (Al-Qaeda = The Base). The Taliban themselves expected it would happen, and so did the rest of the world. I don't recall anyone having a problem with that - except for the Talibs themselves of course as they are being chased around to this day, together with Osama.

But Hanson wants it to be a multiple-choice question and inserts the most tenuous and untenable proposition that clearly and forcibly goes against most blatant facts: according to Hanson USA went to Afghanistan to finally rid the Afghani of the hated rule of the Talibs. Oh really. Suddenly, the tragedy of WTC made all of America go humanitarian and decide to liberate the poor oppressed Afghani :-0

This is a lie, ladies and gentlemen - and every american, and every non-american, if you put the question to him, will tell you that this is *not* what motivated United States of America to invade Afghanistan and force Pakistani's military dictator to comply politically and militarily.

There is only one answer - as stated above. Unambiguous.

The case for war in Iraq was built upon relentless media drilling into american heads that Iraq was another Afghanistan - a clear and obvious Base for those same terrorists that traumatized the american nation on 9/11. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a lie. Iraq under Saddam Hussein was not in any way a base for Islamic terrorists - it was a rogue state. No evidence was ever provided to justify this lie - nevertheless it took hold in the all-american mind through the simplest propaganda trick: if the media say so, if the WH says so, it must be so. Notably, this rhetoric did not convince anyone outside of United States. Hence staunch popular (and not just governamental) opposition to this war throughout the world.

To cover this blatant lack of evidence, the case was "incremented" to include candy-eye humanitarian rhetoric that appeared so utterly secondary in the obvious case of Afghanistan (precisely because it was too obvious to need additional justification): the USA was going after the brutal dictator Saddam to give the selfless gift of freedom to Iraqi people.

This is a lie, ladies and gentlemen. The truth of the matter is that United States of America went after Saddam because he was too much of an unruly dictator - and not because he was a brutal dictator - and least of all because anyone in the post-9/11 America was truly sorry for the lot of the remote and unknown Iraqi people. Americans are not terribly enamored of Arabs - the sudden wish to liberate some "goat-fucking dirty Arabs" and give them a selfless gift of freedom sounds preposterous at best. This was never the reason, as so many near-fascists sites in the pro-war blogosphere show so well. The unique reason for this war was and is the desire to establish a pro-US regime in Iraq - make it into an American Base in the heart of the Middle-East.

Whether Iraqis will get to enjoy some sort of feedom or anything else in the process is of secondary concern.

This is the truth. And that this simple, uncomplicated truth needs to be coated in bombastic hypocrisy and pseudo-humanitarian concerns is the damning evidence and accusation against those who continue to perpetrate lies to their own people - since they can't very well deceive anyone else.

The actual argument for the war sounds like this: we need to create a political and military base in Iraq and forcibly put a pro-american regime in place; if this can be done with american-style democracy, that's great, it would make for grand propaganda for our pretty suspect good intentions. If not, we'll be ok with any type of regime as long as we can easily manipulate it (unlike Iran - yet Iran is no worse a dictatorship than Saudi Arabia, in case you still think USA is really after dictators).

Bush and his eager cronies actually believe their own lies when they talk of "beacon of freedom" and "liberating" some selected "oppressed Arabs" - while talking of waging war on terror "abroad not at home". In the Middle East this peculiar mental confusion is called "American freedom" - as opposed to actual freedom.

Freedom implies the possibility of dissent and opposition - not only to your own home-grown dictator but also to the big dictator from abroad: who intends to dictate to you your thoughts and actions and hold you forever in bond for his supposedly selfless gifts. There is nothing moral or grand about dictatorially imposed "freedom". There is little selflessness or humanitarian concern in wanting to subjugate whole nations.

Realpolitik posturing under the mask of High Ideals is hardly any more appealing than blatant Realpolitik acting in its own name. Say it loud and clear: we want to make an effective dominion of Iraq, whether it wants it or not. We'll force it to comply - whether it wants it or not. We'll play the stick and the carrot, we won't leave because we can't leave until our real goal is reached.

If we can't establish a compliant state in Iraq - we've failed and compromised our own precious security. End of story.

***

Once the pseudo-humanitarian mask is removed, the hard facts remain: it is in the global interest of the West to see the now-destroyed Iraq rebuilt as a pro-western and stable regime. There is no question at all as to whether United States constitutes the lone super-power representing the interests of the West as a whole around the globe. That it represents these obvious interests under false pretenses is despicable and the fact that it wants to do it all by itself is outright dangerous.

Who will save the US if it shoots itself in the foot and paints itself into a corner in Iraq?

This is the scariest question yet - and it still awaits an answer.





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