"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Friday, February 03, 2006

No V In Dubya?

Ilana Mercer has summed up her recent critques of George Bush's Middle East policy in one powerful essay wherein every word sparkles. Agree or not, not to be missed.


James Elliott said...

Mercer wrote:

So how about a referendum on this question?

Speaking as a Californian: The referendum thing ain't all it's cracked up to be.

She also wrote "We can't rule out unintended consequences, even failure." That's so refreshing to read from a conservative. Of course, this - "I'm asking you to buy my brand of made-in-America compassionate communism" - is rather astonishingly hyperbolic.

Still, she's not as histrionic here as I've found her to be previously. I'll have to re-evaluate her place on my poop-list.

Tom Van Dyke said...

It's my own custom to leave things a little open-ended so that the reader interactively participates in filling in the blanks, but for the first time in a lifetime of reading, I honestly dunno what Ms. Mercer is saying.

Does she think the "Arab street" is psychotic or terminally zealous, and should not be trusted with self-determination? Does she hate democracy?

Well, I'm wary of democracy, too, because ala the French Revolution, mob rule, rather than being simply carnivorous, is cannibalistic. Edmund Burke, disputing our own Thomas Jefferson, turned out to be quite right on the issue.

But the "Arab Street" didn't stand up for Saddam, who in their hearts knew he had it coming.

Unfortunately, because of the limits of language, George Dubya couldn't say we were fighting for freedom and republicanism. Democracies tend to suck, but republics are da bomb.

We are fighting for republicanism, where the rights of great and small are preserved, with the consent of the governed. Deal with it. We are all republicans now.


connie deady said...

I believe she is saying that it isn't America's job to die and pay for democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. She doesn't believing bring democracy to the middle east is such a great idea because the population of those countries are radically energized and a democracy may be much worse than a yrant.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm sure you're right, Connie. I thought there might be more to it than that.

mdvoutlook.com said...

I've been reading Natan Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy," and he makes a very persuasive case that sentiments like Ms. Mercer's are demonstrably wrong. I agree. The bottom line is that the fight for democracy is a fight for our own national security. The book is an excellent investment, especially for those who haven't made up their minds yet.

connie deady said...

Tom knows I've said before that a real Arab democracy would be an amazing consequence. I'm just highly dubious that we coulc bring it about. It's a high risk, high reward undertaking.

I'm as idealistic as anyone and fairly academic. I suspect that the effort may end up with very negative consequences. Academics and idealists aren't the best forgers of foreign policy.

Being visionary is good, but there's a lot of feet on the ground mindset needed to. I suspect these idealists truly believed that the Iraqis would see us as liberators and welcome overthrowing Saddam and bringing democracy.

I see Iraq now as how to minimize disaster. What about dividing Iraq back into Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites? It was an artificial creation. I think the Kurds might be able to actually function as a democracy and welcome our military presence.

Jay D. Homnick said...

One of the things that amazes me about following politics is that people have incredibly short memories.

In all this controversy, I have not seen or heard a single commentator who remembered that there was a perfectly legitimate democratic election in Algeria during the Clinton administartion; it ended with the fundamentalist Moslems winning. Clinton gave the wink to the generals in Algeria and they stepped in and nullified the result.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I agree with both Connie and Jay. Our alternative of course is going back to and/or continuing to support authoritarian governments that will keep the crazies in line with a sort of counter-terror.

But we have been quite morally unhappy with ourselves pursuing such Kissinger/Brzezinski realpolitik.

Me, I think the structural problem with the Great War on Terror is that it's against loosely-organized individuals rather than states.

That the inhabitants of nation-states are responsible for the actions of their popularly elected governments is a truism, and in the Middle East, I welcome recent changes as a necessary evolution, albeit unpleasant in the short term.

(Based on his own analysis, even Ward Churchill would be forced to agree with that proposition, I think. It is the little Eichmanns who are responsbile for little Dresdens.)

If Hamas wishes to continue its existential war on the state of Israel, then they now stand on the front line in front of the Palestinian civilian population, rather than cowardly hiding behind it, because they are now one and the same.

Plausible deniabilty of guilt for terrorism is quickly fading in the Muslim world because of a rush of political changes.


I'd have preferred that the Iraqis welcome the US and UK as liberators and played nice with each other. Unfortunately, some folks are incapable of acting in their own best interests.

Still, the political evolution being forced by the Bushies on the Muslim world is making moralistic handwringing about the gray area between governments, terrorists, and civilians moot.

May you live in interesting times.

JC said...

Good point, Mr. Van Dyke. At first, I was inclined to join the hand-wringing over Hamas winning the election and the crazy people winning in Iran. Now I'm not so sure.

If terrorists / crazy people are legitimately (democratically, more or less) in control of the governments in Palestine and Iran, it means the world powers can negotiate with and dispose of them through world politics. As long as they were "underground," we were limited to CIA and some military actions. Now if Hamas pulls something (for example), we can just declare open war on Palestine and clean up the mess. If Iran wants to build nukes, fine---we'll impose sanctions or worse. They have lost the advantage of stealth, so we can now leverage the combined might of the United Nations, as unbearably slow as they might be. Of course, if those in the Middle East governments are at all rational, they will realize this and refrain from doing anything stupid like attacking Israel or the U.S. (Scott Adams wrote a silly but apt blog entry on this. Let's only hope they have some shred of rationality.)

To me, it seems a little like Al Capone facing an IRS audit.

Matt Huisman said...

Excellent observations once again Mr. Van Dyke. The clarity that we gain from the election of Hamas-types is most valuable.

The next question then, if we agree that it’s beneficial to allow (encourage) this sort of thing, is do we have any right (responsibility) to encourage opposition groups within these nations? I'm told the world is filled with Muslims who don’t agree with the aims of their radicalized brothers. Why should we not lend our assistance to their cause when it coincides with our interests?

Tlaloc said...

"I see Iraq now as how to minimize disaster. What about dividing Iraq back into Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites?"

Possibly the best choice but very delicate and difficult. Look at the history of British Indo-china bcoming the modern states of India and Pakistan to see how such a division can lead to massive bloodshed and decades of war.

But like I said it may be the best answer to this royal mess Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush created.