Saturday, December 11, 2004
Wrong, Andrew, wrong
I was personally opposed to the war in Iraq. But, I have respect those who supported the war for reasons other than the BS that Bush admn kept throwing at us. One could even say that I am with the neocons in spirit - though I disagree with their actions - in that I believe that democracy is superior to any other system of governance. The neo-cons tend to emphasise the importance of democratic values - freedom, respect for fellow humans, etc, that I deeply believe in. I also consider it valid agenda for democracies - India, France, Australia, Canada, the EU or, especially, the US - to promote more democracies around the world. (But is a war, especially one justified by pulling wool over the eyes of people, scaring them out of their wits, the way to do it? Well, I do not agree with that. But I degress.)
Among those who were pro-war were people like Thomas Friedman, and Andrew Sullivan, whom I quote quite often. So, I was deeply dismayed by this article by him. Essentially, he argues that there is a marked movement towards democracy in Iraq, though there are many challenges - not something we have not heard - but he mentions a few things that show how deeply mistaken the thought process involved in this is.
First, Andrew has written reams (or Megabytes) on how bad French and German attitudes and intentions are. Even in the current article, he calls the states prickly, and bemoans the fact that no one is singing hosannas about James Baker's diplomatic triumph. But, Andrew, who is singing praise of the French and German benevolence either? Have you so much as nodded at what they are doing? Okay, let's forget the Frogs, for now.
And then comes the whopper: "They're not unhappy to see Sunni and Baathist rebels get pummeled by American arms. In that, you see the beginning of the new Iraqi reality: a place where 80 percent of the country wants the democratic transition to succeed."
So, let me see, if 80% of a country secretly enjoys the rest 20% getting "pummeled," that is indication that the society is moving towards democracy? Sure, democracy IS competitive, where one man's victory is built on another's defeat. But, don't we all rally to their aid when one part of our society is affected? Is that also not part of the democratic mindset, and values, that is supposed to lie at the heart of this war?
And from there, Andrew goes further down. Now, divide-and-rule is a laudible credo, coming to understand which, the Americans are doing better. Andrew, in case you missed it, we do not want to rule them. We want them to rule themselves - peacefully. That is not what divide-and-rule does. This is not something Andrew does not understand either. In fact, he warns us that "it's a potentially dangerous ploy." So, what is his excuse? That two-thirds of Iraqis do not think that civil war is gonna happen. I am worried that every third Iraqi is bracing for a civil war.
Andrew's assumption is that the movement towards civil war is somekind of disciplined process, the rise of which can easily be felt by the common people. Wrong. Before every civil war, there are smouldering communal tensions. But the actual descent into war has always been a swift and uncontrollable meltdown. We see the first now in Iraq - and ironically, Andrew is mistaking it was progress.
Sure, Zarqawi might be gasping for breath. But we must remember that he is not surrendering. He still knows that if he can get the support of the clergy, he can survive, and fight back. In other words, our hopes are on the Sunni clerics not coming to the aid of Zarqawi, and his band of insurgents. That is the problem. As long as we have that hanging sword over our head, there is no bright side.
Andrew is a smart guy, which is why I do not understand why he did not grasp the irony of that sweet little anecdote about a bunch of people filing to contest in the elections. Tell me, Andrew, after almost 18 months of occupation, with the new admistrators crowing about America being there to liberate, yadda yadda yadda, why is it that even such deep-thinking people like them feared for their lives when they decided to go file for the election - and they were fearing, not the terrorists, but the administration. Seriously, don't you think there is something wrong with this picture? To me, it looks like the Bush admn has failed as much in Iraq as Kerry in Middle America, to get the message across. And we all know what happened to Kerry.
Andrew, yes, I do want to join the Iraqis in their hope. Whether one supported the war or not, it is a war we all have a responsibility for - and here, I mean not just America, but all the democratic countries of the world. All of them have a stake in democracy succeed in Iraq. I just do not see much reason to join just now.
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