Why are we in Iraq? There are many reasons, almost all of them bad.
But the one that deserves recounting is this: supporters of the war successfully bullied many skeptics into silence by declaring that anyone who doubted that Iraqis were ready for democracy was a racist.
Thus in a February 2003 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, George W. Bush said:
"There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken. [Applause] … It is presumptuous and insulting to suggest that a whole region of the world—or the one-fifth of humanity that is Muslim—is somehow untouched by the most basic aspirations of life."
Similarly, in August 2003, the Daily Telegraph summarized a speech by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to the National Association of Black Journalists: "Critics of US policy are racist, says Rice" [By David Rennie]. An extract:
"Black Americans should stand by others seeking freedom today, she went on, and shun the 'condescending' argument that some races or nations were not interested in or ready for Western freedoms. 'We've heard that argument before. And we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it,' she said. 'That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East.'"
So supporters of the invasion intimidated onlookers by insinuating that unbelievers in the bright promise of Arab democracy were despicable bigots. Then they went on to spout even more bizarre nonsense about how Iraqis, a population notorious even among Arabs for their self-destructive homicidal lunacy, were practically New Hampshireites in their readiness for self-rule.
For example, Mr. Bush told the AEI:
Are Iraqis "skilled and educated?" The literacy rate in Iraq is 40.4%, according to Mr. Bush's own CIA.
The need to defend liberal myths about human nature is a major reason why the Democrats have not been more effective in their criticisms of the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq and the Middle East. In the minds of many intellectuals on the Left better that US foreign policy stay totally messed up than that truths about human nature that challenge liberal assumptions make it into mainstream newspaper reports and political discussions.
The big gains the Democrats have made in Congress place them in an interesting position. They have ridden to power as a result of popular anger about the course of the Iraq war. But can the Democrats manage to extricate US forces from Iraq without admitting that some nations lack the necessary conditions to become liberal democracies? Never mind that this lack is obvious in Iraq. You probably aren't going to hear Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pontificate about how we should cut our losses in Iraq since democracy and Arabs are not compatible. She isn't going to say we should just let non-Western illiberal people go their very undemocratic and very unfree way. Leading liberals are not going to admit that their secular faith is not the universal aspiration of all the peoples of the world.
You aren't going to get much reality on Iraq from the mainstream media or politicians of either party in Washington DC. But you can read about reality on the web. Start with my posts John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq (admittedly he writes for the New York Times but his arguments are rarely repeated elsewhere), Pessimists on Muslim Democracy, Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition?, Pope Benedict Sees Islam Incompatible With Western Societies, Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development, and History Of American Interventions Bodes Poorly For Democracy.
Also see the consang.net map Global Prevalence of consanguinity.
Myths are killing and maiming lots of American soldiers and Iraqis. Hasn't the cost of these myths gotten too high? Greater honesty and realism would save lives.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 November 07 07:32 PM Mideast Iraq Human Nature|