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previous: Michael Tousek That clinton was unfaithful to h... -- 4/16/2004 12:00 AM View Thread

Re: And,,,,,,

4/16/2004 3:51 PM
Mark Hammer
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Re: And,,,,,,
There's a tad too much revisionism in there for my tastes, Mike. I'm not all that partial to Pierre's slant on things either, but its alternative should not be simplistic jingoism.  
 
Both the cold war and its aftermath in the oil war resulted in successive American administrations supporting, either actively or through deliberate neglect, despotic regimes around the world. The list of ways that different administrations aided and abetted foreign "rogue" governments under the table is endless, and includes both domestic leaders we think of as "good guys" and "bad guys". Bush may go on and on about how evil Saddam and the Baathists were, but the regime in place existed in large part to foreign (both American and European) support for that government over time. At least part of that support was in its capacity as aggressor in the Iran-Iraq war (and defender of western interests). Why was it helpful to support Iraq? Because Iran had gone ultra-Islamic in the eyes of many in the aftermath of the fall of the Shah. And why had Iran gone ultra-Islamic? Largely because of the preceding oppressive regime of the Shah that was documentably supported by American and European interests. The same thing is happening all over again in Iraq right now, except this time the American government is hoping to avoid the creation of another Islamic state.  
 
I hate to keep bringing up the Iran-Contra affair, but that incident is highly illustrative of the fact that big chunks of many American administrations frequently HAVE no moral compass guided by a stable vision of what is good for the world, being guided only by a seat-of-the-pants view of who our enemy is *now*. The same thing that led the US to support Saddam when it suited them, is the same thing that led a Republican government to sell arms to Iran and launder drug money to support the Contra forces combatting Sandanistas. That particular example is, to my mind, a good standard deviation off the mean in terms of how nasty it was, but the wildly spinning moral compass that gave rise to it is still in use.  
 
Knocking over a bottle of milk then whining while you mop it up is not the mark of heroism for me and for many others, despite how much effort one puts into the cleanup or how many lives are lost in the process. Whether Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, Chechnya, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Israel, or Haiti, the assorted messes that nations rush in to "save" are largely the product of an extensive legacy of intervention by large nations into the affairs of smaller nations for their own benefit and politics. Sometimes it's the result of colonialism, and sometimes the result of something not too far removed from that. The US is no greater a sinner in this regard, but neither are they a lesser sinner - they just have a better P.R. machine.  
 
Yes, America loves democracy (or at least THINKS it does), but too often that love of democracy does not extend to being patient enough to sitting back and waiting for stable nations to emerge under organic circumstances, using their own definition of government and sound leadership for the people, and under their own direction. Rather, there is clear intent by major nations to impose the government of choice, according to their own definition of wise/sound governance, as soon as possible because stability (and stability of a particular type) benefits those larger nations. Yes, there is most certainly a humanitarian and international development aspect to it, but to deny the prominence of self-interest is to deny the obvious.  
 
The deadline for withdrawal of American oversight of Iraq is rapidly approaching, but as much as Bush talks about peace and security, it will be a cold day in hell that American troops will withdraw from the region until there is a government in there that the Bush administration likes and feels they can deal with. Indeed, that is likely what the American public expects. Were their government to march into Iraq and take down/out the Baathists, then come home again leaving an Islamic government in its place, I suspect most Americans would be scratching their heads and mumbling "Well then what was the point of going there?" When Bush said "regime change", he had a specific view of what would replace the regime already there, and not just an anybody-but-THAT-guy vision.  
 
That being said, it would be simplistic and shameful to cast the U.S. in any monolithic way. There ARE plenty of American NGOs, and likely federal agencies as well, that are hard at work supporting democracy at the ground level in ways anyone can appreciate. Would that policy and budget decisions made at the top level were aligned with those efforts. Too often, they aren't. What makes life easier for the military or trade negotiators or the treasury isn't always what makes life bearable or goals attainable for international development types.  
 
BTW, there are a great many British and Canadian soldiers who would disagree vehemently and validly with the premise that America "saved" Europe twice. Do not let the amount of money thrown at self-glorifying Hollywood films colour history too much.

 
Replies:
Dave Rich Mark I have a quiz for you. Here is... -- 4/16/2004 8:58 PM