Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

And speaking of crime . . .

Am I missing something here? 57% of respondents to a poll now say that the Bush Administration intentionally misled the public about the supposed threat posed by Iraq in order to justify the invasion.

Yet the Democrats in Congress, and liberals in the corporate media -- and the blogosphere for that matter, all seem united in the conceit that what is essential now is to look forward, not back. "We" must "succeed" in Iraq. But it's impossible to look forward if you don't understand WTF is happening in the first place!

The Boston Globe elegantly demonstrates how to drink the Kool Aid:

The Ba'athists, radical Islamists, and Sunni factions carrying out car bombings, ambushes, and beheadings are not, as Vice President Cheney claims, in their last throes. So posting a timetable for withdrawal would neither save them from oblivion nor give them a fresh motivation to continue wreaking havoc, as Cheney suggests.

Nevertheless, this would not be the right time to announce a date for removing US forces. The Iraqis are in the midst of forging a new pluralist politics rooted in consensus and respect for minority rights. They are preparing to draft a constitution and elect a representative, sovereign government. It would make no sense to impose a deadline for withdrawal before enough Iraqi forces have been trained to defend the populace and before the new Iraqi government is elected -- expected in December, or by next May at the latest. President Bush will likely make some version of this case in his address tonight.

The Iraqis are in the midst of no such thing. The Globe editors, along with the Democrats in Congress, knowing they've been played for fools, are back at the 3-card monte table to be plucked clean once again. The only bases for politics in Iraq right now are ethnicity and religion. The Kurds have only one goal, which is an independent Kurdistan. They are going through the motions of the U.S. plan for Iraq in order to try to win territorial concessions on the cheap and to please their American patrons, but they have no intention ultimately of subordinating their sovereignty to the Arab majority. The Shiite political parties are religiously based and controlled by clerics. In the Shiite-controlled south, fundamentalist goon squads are already patrolling the streets enforcing religious law. Iranian factions are powerfully influential and the Shiite-dominated government that ultimately has to emerge will be anything but one rooted "in pluralist politics and based on consensus and respect for minority rights." That is a wild fantasy. The Prime Minister has even gone so far as to announce that the private militias of the religious parties will continue to operate with the full support of the state.

There is no popular ideology in Iraq to support a pluralist democracy. That form of nation state is not created at the point of a tank barrel. It requires a democratic political culture, which Iraq does not have. Ergo, the Iraqi forces now being trained are not going to provide security for a pluralist democracy, they are going to end up as the armed representatives of whatever faction they belong to. Responsible reporters have already amply confirmed that fact. Some Iraqi army units are simply relabeled Kurdish Peshmergas whose loyalty is to Kurdistan, not Iraq. Others are part of what is essentially a Shiite army, which has been committing atrocities against Sunni Arab civilians and clerics. Sunni Arabs have joined purely for the money, because there is no work to be had in Iraq. Some of these units have apparently attacked Shiite civilians, and individuals, at least, have attacked U.S. troops. I fervently hope that the Iraqis will be able to come to some sort of a stable conclusion, but it will have to involve some sort of devolution, perhaps with a token confederacy as a transitional state, and its components will not look anything like western democracies, with the possible exception of Kurdistan (which, by the way, was already essentially independent before the war).

The U.S. occupation is not doing anything to help resolve this horrific situation, on the contrary, it is a major irritant which only undermines the legitimacy of whatever political developments take place.

Finally, and most centrally, the Globe analysis continues to take the motives and intentions of the Bush administration at face value. They can only perceive the situation as they do because they have not stopped to consider why the administration launched this war in the first place. A democratic Iraq based on "consensus" is impossible to achieve, obviously, in such a fractious society, but there are a few things all Iraqis can agree on. One is that there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq, or anywhere else in Arab lands, for that matter. Another is that Iraqis should control their own natural resources and that U.S. corporations should have no place in Iraq. Yet another is that Israel is illegitimate. (Although I suppose most people would accept a two-state solution on terms much different than anything Israel seems prepared to agree to now.) And, while there is no consensus about Iran, there is a large Shiite majority such that a "democratic" Iraq will inevitably be closely tied to Iran and its ambitions.

Was it truly the objective of the Bush administration to bring about a regime in Iraq that would pursue these policies? Obviously not. And they aren't going to allow it to happen now, either. Put down the Kool Aid.

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