November 27, 2006

Department of Crude Agitprop

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--An image accompanying a DoD web-site panegyric to Great Patriarch Uncle Don, which includes this gem: "(a) multinational coalition has liberated 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq, with formation of representative governments and security forces." Mr. Secretary, what "representative" government do you speak of in Iraq today, the one that is capsizing before our very eyes? And whom does this "representative" government represent, dare I ask? This is outlandish hagiography, and in its total divorce from reality, it brings to mind another great Uncle's Potemkin-like poster campaigns:

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--"Working in a new way; leading in a new way--Our production programme can and must be achieved."

Anatol Lieven:

The Bush administration’s ideological rhetoric concerning US policy in the Middle East has become separated from the policy itself to an extent almost reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. According to the rhetoric, the US has adopted democratisation as the core of its political strategy and made a clean break with its past strategy of propping up local dictatorships and playing one country and ethno-religious group against another.

In practice – especially since the latest conflict in Lebanon – US strategy relies entirely on the ability of pro-American authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to control the anger of their populations at US and Israeli policies. To help keep these Sunni regimes in line, Washington relies on their fear of an expansion of Iranian and Shia influence. This is precisely the dominant US strategy of the past generation, except for periods when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq replaced Iran as the chief regional bogeyman. President George W. Bush’s language of democracy is also accompanied by utter contempt for the views of potential voters in the region.

P.S. Come to think of it, I'm surprised Secretary Rumsfeld didn't list another item in his lengthy list of "accomplishments", namely authorization of innovative new 'interrogation' techniques. Or perhaps that's what he meant by this coy reference: "(s)uspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have revealed information that has helped thwart attacks against our troops, the American people and our allies." We'll have to pay quite a bit more attention to that one in coming years, no?

Posted by Gregory at November 27, 2006 02:45 AM
Comments

You may have long since soured on the Iraq War, but it shouldn't be hard for you to at least acknowledge that Iraq has a representative government. It may be an incompetent, corrupt government, but it was elected in UN-monitored, free, multi-party elections by the Iraqis.

You can blame Rumsfeld for lots of things but not for the Iraqis choosing men like Maliki to run their affairs.

Posted by: David P. at November 27, 2006 04:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The Bush administration’s ideological rhetoric concerning US policy in the Middle East has become separated from the policy itself to an extent almost reminiscent of the former Soviet Union."

Is that because all they have left is rhetoric? Must be, because the policy is morally, intellectually, and strategically bankrupt.

Posted by: sekaijin at November 27, 2006 04:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


David P.

You can blame Rumsfeld for lots of things but not for the Iraqis choosing men like Maliki to run their affairs.

The Iraqis may have chosen Maliki to be a member of parliament, but not to be prime minister. That was a result of American pressure. Have you not been paying attention?

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 06:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I think Greg's question, 'whom does this "representative" government represent', is meant to convey that the matter is actually mysterious.

American pressure seems to have been decisive in making Maliki prime minister. Maliki is a member of the Dawa party, which has long-standing ties with Iran. Lately Maliki has been blocking American actions against Moqtada Sadr and his militia, and there are rumors that Maliki lets Sadr dictate high-level military appointments. Does Maliki represent the Iraqi people, the U.S. government, the Iranian government, or Moqtada Sadr? People may well wonder, and this doubt saps the legitimacy right out of Maliki's government.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 06:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Iraq the Model says 'The government stinks—that’s the overwhelming impression that is undermining the public's support for the government and its institutions.'

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 08:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah ! Congrats, Greg - you've topped the "reductio ad Hitlerum" - I eagerly await the "reductio ad Mao-um" and the "reductio ad Pol-Pot-um" (Bush emptied New Orleans like the Khmer Rouge did Cambodia's cities, maybe ?). I also can't wait to see a "reductio ad Idi Amin-um"... has anyone in the administration copped to a delight in the gamey flavor of a fresh-caught liberal yet ?

Posted by: yomama at November 27, 2006 04:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

. . . has anyone in the administration copped to a delight in the gamey flavor of a fresh-caught liberal yet ?

Why would they have a gamey flavor if they were freshly caught?

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 05:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


My favorite anti-Bush slogan:

Bush isn't Hitler, but not for lack of trying.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 27, 2006 05:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is Edward Djerejian any relation to Gregory? I am curious since I saw the Edward is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice.

Posted by: sferris at November 27, 2006 05:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why would they have a gamey flavor if they were freshly caught?

especially since liberals never actual walk or run anywhere...they travel in limosines.

that being said, I hear that Young Republicans "taste like chicken(hawk)"

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 27, 2006 08:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

American pressure alone didn't lead to Maliki being named Prime Minister; there was broad opposition outside of the Shiite coalition to Maliki's predecessor Jafari being named PM in the post-constitution government. But focussing on the parliamentary maneuvers misses the broader point: Iraqis elected all of these parties and leaders (including folks like Sadr), and they bear plenty of responsibility for the current state of Iraq.

Nevertheless, perhaps some of us who were (or still are) optimistic about the possibility of Iraq becoming a democracy were not objective or cynical enough about the history and capabilities of the Iraqi people. That argument (made by Steve Sailer here), sounds compelling in hindsight, but then many countries previously considered unlikely to become democracies have since done so (e.g., El Salvador, South Korea).

Posted by: David P. at November 28, 2006 12:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

American pressure alone didn't lead to Maliki being named Prime Minister . . .

What an asinine strawman. I didn't say 'alone'. Of course American pressure, as opposed to outright invervention, couldn't have put Maliki in power if he didn't have internal support as well. I didn't think I had to spell that out. I thought I could rely on some intelligence on the readers' part, and the benefit of the doubt that I'm not stupid either.


Posted by: David Tomlin at November 28, 2006 06:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh Wait! I wasn't supposed to laugh at that was I? I suppose it depends on what they mean by accomplishments.

Posted by: ET at November 28, 2006 08:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"In practice – especially since the latest conflict in Lebanon – US strategy relies entirely on the ability of pro-American authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to control the anger of their populations at US and Israeli policies. "

The only remaining exception (the remaining legacy of the neocon revolution) is the continued support for a Shi'a-dominated government in Baghdad. It's perversely anachronistic -- a mammal amidst the dinosaurs in Jim Baker's Jurassic Park. How much longer can it survive?

Posted by: PeterP at December 5, 2006 10:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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