Making Iraq Safe for Islamic Fundamentalism
It seems like just yesterday that supporters of the war on Iraq were insisting that war opponents apologize to the world for our inability to see how wonderfully the whole attack would go. Actually, it was about five days ago, and a few days certainly can make a difference. Now, of course, those same war whoopers have become strangely quiet, with a few even bold enough to at least wonder about the forces they unleashed.
Well, it's called having a million Islamicists march into Karbala, whipping themselves into a bloody frenzy in commemoration of Imam Ali. Oops, maybe this road to democracy and freedom, something that seemed so easy not so long ago, isn't going to go as military planners predicted.
Many Americans — at least the kind who get their news off of the Internet rather than from sitting wide-eyed before the TV set imbibing the liberal craptrap from the networks or the neoconservative war-mongering on Fox — are starting to understand what's happening. All the Pentagon spin in the world won't change the significance of the coming Iraq disaster.
The Chicago Tribune on Monday quoted a popular young cleric named Sheik Abbas Zubaidi: "The new government will be ruled in the name of God in heaven, whose light shines into all walks of life. You can tell America: Islam is back."
With a vengeance, perhaps.
This would be funny, if it weren't so tragic. One Russian newspaper is referring now to the Iraqi war as the "Dawn of the Shiite Empire." Instead of igniting a pro-democratic revolution throughout the Middle East, Iraq War II is an act of arson that will ignite the fires of Islamic fundamentalism, and perhaps even prop up a neighboring Iranian fundamentalist regime that had been facing increasing domestic resistance.
This seems to have taken the Bush administration and its neoconservative supporters by surprise. That should make Americans feel good, given that this highly predictable event — the emergence of Islamic sentiment in a newly freed country with a 60-percent Shiite Muslim population — was not predicted by the same people who last week were arguing for continuing efforts by the U.S. military to remake the Middle East.
In George Will's April 24 column, he writes: "An old baseball joke: A manager says his team needs just two more players to become a pennant contender. But, he says, ‘The players are Ruth and Gehrig.' Iraq needs only four people to achieve post-Saddam success. Unfortunately, they are George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall."
Absolutely true, and well written. But, pardon my cynicism, wasn't George Will one of the people cheerleading for the Bush/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz strategy in Iraq? I mean, shouldn't these people have thought about the lack of George Washingtons before having made Iraq safe for fundamentalist Islam?
So, now, we must watch the hilarious Orwellian scenario, in which the Bush administration explains why denying people democracy is the same thing as building democracy. Readers of LewRockwell know that democracy isn't what's important, but constitutionally protected freedoms. But these "conservative" braintrusts have been talking nonstop about democracy, especially after the Weapons of Mass Destruction never materialized. What can they say now, given the electoral dynamic in modern Iraq?
Last week, Colin Powell was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, saying: "I don't think we can allow individuals to go around setting up governments on their own." No, we wouldn't want that, would we? On Monday, the Associated Press reported that "The U.S. military asserted its authority over Baghdad on Sunday, arresting an Iraqi exile for proclaiming himself the city's mayor without any mandate from its occupiers."
The problem wasn't that the guy seized power without a democratic mandate, but that his seizing of power didn't come with the approval of the occupying military. The U.S. military spokesman said the man was arrested "for his inability to support the coalition military authority and for exercising authority which was not his."
Well, at least it's plain for everyone to see: America is not building a democracy, but trying to put in place proper stooges, who are likely to act as intelligently as Curly, Larry and Moe, if this fella Chalabi is a good indication of a U.S.-backed leader.
I'll just be happy not to hear any more gloating from an administration and its supporters who weren't sharp enough to have thought through their little war and nation-building experiment. Now we're supposed to simply give them a pass based on their good intentions. We're still supposed to believe their lies about WMDs, even after that discovery of the 55-gallon drum that Central Command said was filled with nerve and blister agents turned out to be something not particularly harmful. We're still supposed to trust their plans to revamp the rest of the Middle East. We're still supposed to believe that a government uninterested in freedom in America will do a good job building freedom abroad.
It's unbelievable, really. I'm reminded of the line from the movie "Four Feathers," in which a Sudanese man says something like this to the British citizen whose life he saved repeatedly: You British shouldn't walk on this Earth so proudly. President Bush, who once promised a humbler American policy, should think about that line.
April 29, 2003
Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif.
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