Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Explanation of ten minute story below...

My plan is to write one complete self-standing story every day...And I have to finish it...OK, but I can't do that now because...

Wha?!? Now wait a sec....

I really must stop reading the newspaper and national publications...For my own sanity and I mean that literally....

Ay caramba. I read the New Yorker last night. I thought it would help me fall asleep. I couldn't have been more wrong since it terrified me more than 'The Ring' (which interrupted my sleep for many nights).

This is the plan as reported in "After Iraq" by Nicholas Lemann

--First you have a war in Iraq.
--You win the war in Iraq.
--You create institutions of democracy in Iraq. [After somehow getting everyone to get along.]
--You show the people of Iraq how to create a humane representative government. [A war and sanction devastated country.]
--They take to this like ducks to water.
--You also have some control over economics of the region by controlling who Iraq trades with.
--The pan-Arabism [which is approximately 80 years old] and Muslim fundamentalism [a bit more recent] and traditional Arab elites [pretty much have been there always but currently since the end of colonialism in the late 19th century/early 20th century] which deeply affects and in fact shapes the countries of Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan is profoundly transformed.
--Jordan changes because Hussein no longer courts the Palestinians in Jordan.
--Syria changes because they also cannot get oil from Iraq under the prior terms and the pressure of its regional partners it realizes its sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah no longer flies.
--Saudi Arabia has to toe the line because the U.S. and Europe are no longer desperately dependent on their they also can't sponsor terrorism freely.
--Iran, heartened by the democracy in Iraq becomes a democracy as well.
--Egypt also becomes a democracy because of the inspiring example of democracy in Iran and Iraq.
--There is no more terrorism because there is no one to sponsor it: Current and future leaders get rid of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
Also, they don't want what happened to Iraq and Afghanistan to happen to them.
All nationalist, religious and traditionalist aspirations die a rapid death.

It is true that they have the 'we'll show them' theory: Douglas Feith, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy which is the job that Wolfowitz held in the first Bush administration as quoted in the New Yorker:

"'One of the principal strategic thoughts underlying our strategy in the war on terrorism is the importance of the connection between terrorist organizations and their state sponsors. [quite sensible, actually]...One of the principal reasons that we are focussed on Iraq as a threat to us and to our interests is because we are focussed on the connection between three things: terrorist organizations, state sponsors and weapons of mass destruction. If we were to take military action and vindicate our principles, in the war of terrorism, against Iraq I think it would'--he paused, looking for the right word--register with other countries around the world that are sponsoring terrorism, and would perhaps change their own cost-benefit calculations about their role in connection with terrorist networks. I think this process got under way with Afghanistan. There you had a regime that was ousted because of its support for terrorist operations against the United States. If the Iraqi regime gets outsted because it ultimately proves unwilling to disarm itself in a cooperative fashion with the U.N. and if the United States leads a coalition and overthrows that government, I think the combination of those two actions will influence the thinking of other states about how advisable it is for them to continue to provide safe harbor or other types of support for terrorist organizations....we may be on the way to creating a new international way of thinking about terrorism....our goal is to make terrorism, like piracy, the slave trade, or genocide in the minds of people around the world. It is to delegitimate terrorism as an activity, as a is interesting how military action sometimes reinforces philosophical messages."
"After Iraq" p. 72.

Occasionally they would say things (Feith and Cambone) like 'well, it might not work out. We might mess up...'

I assume anyone reading this closely would think 'wha?!?' Talk about wishful thinking, holy smokes...I mean the simplest person could wonder "Hey, you said the U.S. might mismanage the 'peace' [actually, the occupation of Iraq]...uh...what happens if the peace is mismanaged?"

If A can cause B and B can cause C and C can cause D and D can cause F and F can cause G...etc....then we get to Z and Z is really, really great!

If this is your plan, shouldn't you ask yourself: Well, what else might A cause? What if A doesn't cause B? What if...A causes lots of other terrible things.

Then there is also this idea expressed that democracy has increased all over...I suppose, to some extent, that might be true, sort of. But you also think: Why are you so interested in that? Is it altruism? But if it is concern for the people who live under undemocratic regimes and you pat yourself on the back that the people of Nicaragua can vote (they could before, actually) how come it didn't worry you when there was the drought and the coffee crisis and mass starvation in Nicaragua? Why did you subtly threaten economic sanctions if Daniel Ortega (former leader of the Sandanistas) was elected to the presidency--in a supposedly free election?

I'm not even going to consider that whole question since it is obvious that the concern to make the world 'more democratic' is not a concern for the people who live in the countries and their way of life.

I'm not going to come up with some big conspiracy theory, etc. I'm just going to say: They said it! This is their millenarian, castle in the clouds, hopelessly optimistic plan.

Here are some assumptions that are necessary for the plan to make sense:
(1) The leaders of Syria, etc. are in charge and calculate their political decisions on the basis of self-interest
(2) The people who live in the country--and who might be inclined toward pan-Arabism, Islamic fundamentalism--either (a) do not affect the internal politics of the country or (b) will also be 'persuaded' by a war and the threat of war--if they do happen to affect the politics of the country. E.g, the leaders do not utilize/tolerate terrorism because it props up their own power since they know the population favors opposition to Israel.
(3) When you have a 'democracy' that democracy will not see itself as opposed to the United States and its interests. There will be no democratic inclination toward terrorism, pan-Arabism, Islamic fundamentalism. E.g., when Iran 'goes democratic' they will somehow be inclined to work in harmony with the Western powers and particularly with the United States.
(4) No one genuine believes in Pan-Arabism, Islamic fundamentalism and would adhere to it on principle whatever the costs happen to be.
(5) The elites won't cling to their power regardless of any outside threat.
(6) The U.S.--by the threat they pose--can credibly threaten war on any nation that supports terrorism. We could bomb Syria, for example--Because, if we're going to scare Syria into submission, it has to also be possible for us to bomb Syria or they will obviously know we're bluffing.
(7) One problem is that terrorism is 'credible.' People committed genocide and enslaved others and piracy because it was 'credible.' I mean: People still commit genocide and piracy! (And enslave others to a more limited extent than in the past.) We'll just bomb and bomb until everyone realizes terrorism is 'just wrong'?

Oh, there's lots more but I have to get going now...Think of your own--it's loads of fun.


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