Iraq Needs a Democratic Strongman





Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

HNN FUND RAISING DRIVE
If you like the service HNN provides, please consider making a donation.

Thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites chanted "No to America, No to Saddam, Yes to Islam" a few days ago, during pilgrimage rites at the holy city of Karbala. Increasing numbers of Iraqis appear to agree with these sentiments. They have ominous implications for the coalition forces.

Gratitude for liberation usually has a short shelf life, and Iraq will be no exception. As a middle-aged factory manager put it, "Thank you, Americans. But now we don't need anybody to stay here anymore."

However delighted they are to be rid of the Saddamite nightmare, Iraqis mentally live in a world of conspiracy theories, causing many to harbor deep suspicions of coalition intentions.

"Yes to Islam" in effect means "Yes to Iranian-style militant Islam." The introduction of that failed system would be a disaster for Iraq and would revive the Khomeini message, which by now has lost nearly all appeal in Iran.

This state of affairs leaves coalition forces in a bind: As vanquisher of the Saddam Hussein regime, they aim to rehabilitate the country, which means sticking around. As liberator of the country, they must respond to Iraqi wishes, which means getting out fast.

What to do? If coalition forces leave Iraq precipitously, anarchy and extremism would result. Stay too long, they will face an anti-imperialist backlash of sabotage and terrorism. Hold elections too fast, the Khomeini-like mullahs will probably win. Keep the country under an occupation force, and an intifada would rear up.

The U.S. and U.K. governments need to square the circle - put the country to right while getting out of the way, and bring about democracy without letting the Iranians take over. I offer two pieces of advice:

Plan for the long haul. Building a full democracy (meaning, regularly voting the head of government out of office) takes time. From the Magna Carta in 1215 to the Reform Act of 1832, England needed six centuries. The United States needed over a century. Things have sped up and these days, but it still stakes twenty or more years to reach full democracy. That was the timetable in countries as varied as South Korea, Chile, Poland and Turkey.
Plan for a gradual transition. A population emerging from thirty years in the dungeon cannot cope with all the choices of full democracy, but must get there in steps. Democratically-minded autocrats can guide the country to full democracy better than snap elections.
Therefore: Iraq needs - and I write these words with some trepidation - a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman. This may sound like a contradiction, but it has happened elsewhere, for example by Atatürk in Turkey and Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan. Yes, it goes against every American instinct ("Democracy Now!" is the name of a national radio show) but that's not a reason to reject it.

Democracy is a learned habit, not instinct. The infrastructure of a civil society - such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, the rule of law, minority rights and an independent judiciary - needs to be established before holding elections. Deep attitudinal changes must take place as well: a culture of restraint, a commonality of values, a respect for differences of view and a sense of civic responsibility.

Such institutions and views will need years to grow in Iraq. In the meantime, elections should begin on the local level. The press should inch toward full freedom, political parties should grow organically, parliament should gain in authority. The Shi'ites can develop democratic ideas, uninfluenced by Khomeinism.

Who should fill the all-important role of strongman? The ideal candidate would be politically moderate but operationally tough; someone with an ambition to steer Iraq toward democracy and good neighborly relations.

As for the coalition forces, after installing a strongman they should phase out their visible role and pull back to a few military bases away from population centers. From these, they can quietly serve as the military partner of the new government, guaranteeing its ultimate security and serving as a constructive influence for the entire region.

The approach outlined here undercuts the rage of anti-imperialism, finesses the almost certain violence against coalition troops and prevents the Iranians from colonizing Iraq. But the window of opportunity is closing rapidly: Unless the coalition appoints a strongman very soon, it will not achieve its ambitious goals.



comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Jerry West - 5/19/2003

-
This thread is not dead yet?

Bill and Derek should both take a step back from the red line. This issues involved are not about individual personalities, and attacking a person's credibility in effect is a dodge to avoid dealing with their facts, or lack thereof, and the interpretation that comes from those facts.

As for the military versus academic experience argument, neither side is superior to the other, and both sets of experience bring something to the table to improve our understanding. I can not say which was more important to me personally, my time in the military or the years in the university, but without one or the other my views would probably be much different. And all of us would be impoverished if we were to listen to only one side.

We all have an equal right to speak, that should go without question, and without hostile attack. The weight of what we say, however, can be judged on what experience we have behind it, both practical and academic.

Bill Heuisler wrote:

I dislike people who hurl insults at the greatest force for good this world has ever known - the finest experiment in human freedom and the unprecedented altruistic hand that reaches out to even an ungrateful Mandela.

JW:

This begs the question, what constitutes an insult? I have the feeling that insult is often used to describe unpleasant criticism, a criticism that is sometimes well earned.

The US may have been the greatest force for good and the finest experiment, but in many areas it has fallen short of its own principles and of the expectations of millions who hoped for a reality much closer to the rhetoric.

In fact, often times the force has been down right malignant and oppressive, crushing democracy and trampling human rights when being good would not achieve the desired results. Results, one might say, that were not in line with the very principles that are touted to give it the reputation of good and finest.

There is a dichotomy in US society between the principles which are its moral foundation and its active policies which often transgress those principles. Until such time as the policies are changed to match the principles, or the principles changed to match the policies, criticism of US policy will more often than not be firmly grounded in the morals of the society. Such criticisms can hardly be framed, at least with any validity, as insulting or hateful.



Bill Heuisler - 5/19/2003

That's right, those who've served have earned the right to rant.
What have you ever bled for? Graduate school? A fraternity?

In this veteran's estimation, your worshiping a man who mouths insults at the United States is somewhat shaded and cheapened by the fact that you've never really served that same country - kind of like a cheap-seat spectator with a big mouth.

Right. I dislike people who hurl insults at the greatest force for good this world has ever known - the finest experiment in human freedom and the unprecedented altruistic hand that reaches out to even an ungrateful Mandela. My stake in this country is a lot larger than yours and I'm damn proud of it.

Don't like my attitude? Tough. You couldn't even last a day in Parris Island, and sometimes that old ivory tower arrogance is compensation. But we lesser intellects understand your need for the vainglory. We know your type: just a Marine-wannabe.
Bill Heuisler


Derek Catsam - 5/18/2003

Mentioning "me" with Mandela, Carter, Mugabe, and whomever does not change the fact that you mentioned ME with MUGABE, MANDELA, and CARTER. No matter who else you mention in the post, you still brought up Mandela in a strain that had nothing to do with him, and not me. Clever attempts to lie and obfuscate just make you seem slimier than usual. And if you are too daft too see rhetorically that my bringing up Duke is the equivalent of your constantly bringing up Zinn and Chomsky even when they are not invoked, well, I am glad that the military entrance requirements are tougher than they once were.

Doctor-manque? Do you actually know the meaning of the words you write? Given that "manque" refers to a frustration for wanting to have accomplished or done something and that I actually have a PhD, and a solid academic position, and a book contract, and several fellowships under my belt for the coming year, methinks you need to learn the fine points of English a bit better. Unless you are typical of postmodern twittery and you believe that words deo not actually have meaning. But in my world "manque" has particular meaning, and you utterly whiffed on it.

See, this is how it works -- I knew that Mr. Weat had military service, and I spoke about it, and you called my references to his service "vapid" when in fact the operative word WAS "ignorance," mainly yours. Is English a second language for you, Bill, or just a first one you are still mastering? Your misuse of so much of it in an attempt to sound clever and sophisticated has interested readers wondering. Two in one post. Astounding.

I stand by my defenses of Mandela. That you stand by your hatred of him reveals far more about you than about me. Vapid indeed.


Derek Catsam - 5/18/2003

So militarys ervice gives anyone the right to say whatever they pleasae, and the rest of us are out in the dark? Meanwhile, Bill, I think Mr. West responded pretty damned solidly to my asserrtions that he had been in the military. Looks like ACTUALLY KNOWING WHAT ONE IS TALKING ABOUT MIGHT BE OF VALUE. And it seems that I knew and you didn't. But the good thing is that it seems Mr. West shut you up in the last post so that finally you aren't going to defend Pinochet and all of the other righty despots of whom you are so fond.


R. Piper - 5/18/2003

Pipes is a well known anti-Muslim/and-Arab raving racist.

Publishing a Jewish Talib's prescriptions for a Muslim/Arab country is akin to publishing Goebbels' opinion on Israel.

Why?


Bill Heuisler - 5/16/2003

Mr. West,
You've earned the right to say anything you damn well please.
Semper Fi.
Bill Heuisler


Jerry West - 5/16/2003

-
And I thought that the frothing on on this topic has dried up!

Bill Heuisler wrote:

2)If the US-hatred per West and others sounds similar to books and articles, mentioning it seems appropriate. Chomsky spends volumes on General Pinochet overthrowing the Communist Allende. He never mentions the 32% mandate, the theft of US property or the massive expropriation of private land. Noam blames the whole thing on the CIA.

JW:

The one thing certainly unsubstantiated in this thread is the constant referral to hatred of the US, that is of course, unless one considers any kind of criticism hatred. I wonder if the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were alive today if they would be labeled as haters of the US?

As for the Chile thing, I have no idea what Chomsky's take is, but from other sources that I have been exposed to for almost 30 years it doesn't sound like he is too far off. As I recall a piece written by Hitchens a year or two ago which may have used more recently released information, also seemed to point a finger at the CIA and the Henry K's State Department as accomplices, if not instigators, in the whole sordid affair.

And, Allende? 32 percent in a parliamentary system is sometimes enough, its legal. Live with it, just like we live with an occasional President who doesn't have a popular mandate.

Expropriating property? That is strictly an internal matter, even if the property is US owned. And, even the US has engaged in expropriation and redistribution, post war Japan being one case in point.

Rather than quibbling over these non-issues what about the thousands who were tortured and murdered, and the other attendant repression that was required to install and maintain the Pinochet government? What justification is there for this? I challenge you to make a solid argument as to why the Chileans had to suffer the Pinochet regime, and how US support of that regime and its Saddam like characteristics was the American thing to do. And Chile is only one of many unsavory episodes over the past half century.

BH:

....it's become almost impossible to sustain any "intellectual consistency" with an opponent whose emotions govern his mind to the degree he can't follow an argument.

JW:

This is particularly funny considering the source. :)

BH:

Why not let Mr. West defend.... Allende, criticize Spooner, lionize Chomsky, Zinn and Aguinaldo,....

JW:

No need to defend or attack them. They are not the point. US policy (as opposed to its wonderful ideals) is the point. Supporting butchers and despots is the point. Beyond support there are the issues of instigation, interference, and training.

Bring forward the proof that we have not supported or allied with despots and brutal dictators, nor subverted the democratic process in the course of our foreign relations since WWII.

BH:

And West and Vietnam? If you know something about Mr. West, please state his unit and dates of service.

JW:

USMC, two hitches. RVN 19 months, 1965-1967, 3rd Marine Division, mostly units of the 12th and 9th Marines. Wore out six pairs of boots on extended hikes throughout I Corps. Still serving in reserve forces, not USMC.



Bill Heuisler - 5/15/2003

Derek,
Intentionally obtuse? Like boys and David Duke? And my "ignorant slander" of Mandela? As a Doctor-manque you should take heed: temper tantrums can never substitute for cold facts.

On May 5th my post was:
"You who are always so eager to qualify people like Presidents Mugabe, Mandela and Carter will defend vague and ahistorical attacks on the United States and President Bush?"
"You" refers to you, Derek. Read the words. Stop flailing your pet phobias. My criticizing you and your over-stipulation during discussions must've hit a sore spot; you're determined to defend your hero, Mandela, and not my criticism of your sanctimony.

And you continue to do so. Why? And West and Vietnam? If you know something about Mr. West, please state his unit and dates of service. If you don't, then your cute little teases just make you seem more vapid than even the overheated rhetoric.

Why not let Mr. West defend himself? Defend Allende, criticize Spooner, lionize Chomsky, Zinn and Aguinaldo, do something calm and constructive, but it's become almost impossible to sustain any "intellectual consistency" with an opponent whose emotions govern his mind to the degree he can't follow an argument.
Bill


Derek Catsam - 5/15/2003

Bill --
Are you being intentionally obtuse? Again, I'll type slowly -- YOU MENTIONED MANDELA. You brought him up out of nowhere. Then when I responded to your ignorant slander of him you claimed that I was being irrelevent. Irrelevent for responding to something you said. Waste of time, perhaps. but only irrelevent inasmuch as your post was irrel;event. Then again, maybre you are right.

Saying someone hates America is the same sort of vicious mcCarthyism as claiming someone is unAmerican, and you are splitting hairs when you try to parse the two. Furthermore, Mr. West decidedly does not hate America, so evcery time you levy the accusation you are doing the same thing as the campaign manager who rationalized putting out about his opponent that he liked little boys. The argument went -- I just want him to have to deny it. So stop playing with little boys, Bill, and stop asking people who don't hate America why they hate America.

Ooohhh -- "yuppie pablum." I am not a yuppie. Mr. West is not a yuppie. Aren't most yuppies Republicans anyway? But that is neither here nor there -- you might even be shocked to know that Mr. West may even have saved us from the Vietnamese menace just as you did way back when. Hate America indeed.

I stand by my assertion that when people do not cite Zinn or Chomsky, they are not citing Zinn or Chomsky, especially when they deny citing Zinn or Chomsky. Just because there are points where the arguments cross does not mean that someone is following in lockstep. Why, I'd love to hear David Duke's takes on, say, carter, mandela and Mugabe. I bet they intersect with an Africa loathing (or at least black Africa loathing -- I forgot your affinity for Ian Smith and apologia for FW de Klerk's terrorism)views pretty well. So every time you write some dumbass thing, (irrelevent dumbass thing?) can I evoke David Duke? It just seems intellectually consistent. Then again, you only seem to like intellectual consistency when it jibes with your worldview.


Bill Heuisler - 5/14/2003

Derek,
Pointing out the obvious to a College professor seems a little silly, but the subject was your constant habit of qualification, not Mandela or Mugabe and the difference between "un-American" and "hating America" is the difference between noun and verb. Try to concentrate: nobody gives a damn about Mandela, McCarthy or quoting Zinn. Read my simpering hypocrisy more carefully.

Also, climb down from your pedestal and stop telling me what I may or may not ask posters to HNN. You are not their nanny. Has asking someone why they hate our country become an impermissable faux pas on your campus? Too bad. If harsh questioning of callow imbeciles is politically incorrect, again, too damn bad.

1)More basics: The term, un-American (as you know quite well) has pejorative connotations from the days of HUAC and McCarthy. The term has only been used by you on HNN. As for me, when streams of unsupported hatred for the US flow on this site my curiosity is awakened and my memory is prompted.

2)If the US-hatred per West and others sounds similar to books and articles, mentioning it seems appropriate. Chomsky spends volumes on General Pinochet overthrowing the Communist Allende. He never mentions the 32% mandate, the theft of US property or the massive expropriation of private land. Noam blames the whole thing on the CIA. Premise and conclusion are debatable, but the intemperate rant is typical Leftist Yuppie Pablum. Zinn parrots Chomsky and has cast the Philippine occupation as an American Holocaust. Foner at least treats these subjects with some objectivity, but Zinn and Chomsky sound just like Mr. West.

Similar claims, similar language, similar lock-step inanity.
Why defend such dogmatic nonsense?
Bill Heuisler


Derek Catsam - 5/13/2003

Bill --
YOU BROUGHT UP MANDELA. You. Not me. You mentioned him in your post -- so how is it "amusingly irrelevent" for me to comment on something that YOU INTRODUCED first?
As for un-American, you constantly accuse people of hating America -- by my definition, that seems to be a synonym with "unAmerican," no? Or are we engaging in direct quoting now? In which case, show me the direct quotation where West used Zinn and Chomsky. In that vein, I mentioned Duke, using your own rhetorical construction, so my use of Duke is as relevant as your use of Zinn and Chomsky in smearing Mr. West. You cannot have it both ways no matter how much you simper off in the corner about unfairness.
Again, I'll keep it in bold print, just so the point does not elude your hypocritical soul: YOU MENTIONED MANDELA first, so "amusing irrelevence" seems to be your modus operendi.


NYGuy - 5/13/2003

Twist and turn MR. West. Not only don't you know history, you don't understand capitaliism. Your discussion of BBH betrays how little you do know about it.


Jerry West - 5/13/2003

Bill Heuisler wrote:

Your point (as you call it) that began this is the following:
"Our boy Saddam may have been a nasty number, but at least he was secular and provided a better platform to build a progressive, democratic society from than anything that the Mullahs or even Jay Garner may construct." 5/5/03

JW:

This is true, and a statement on foreign policy that expressed my opinion that working within the framework of the established secular order in Iraq would be a better place to begin building a progressive, democratic society than from either the position of the Islamic fundamentalists or from the disorder that would result from a US conquest, particularly given the US history of creating "totalitarian" states (a distinction that I think Reagan used).

Somewhere along the line critics opposed this opinion by saying basically that the US is the greatest place in the world, with all of the attendant ruffles and flourishes, and from the tone of subsequent exchanges it appears that any mention of anything that might not promote that bit of God given gospel is considered heresy.

I pointed out that the US has done some pretty bad things in its time, and that foreign policy was not motivated by humanitarianism and altruism, as some would have us believe. So far, despite all of the chest thumping, no one has addressed that point directly. I am still waiting for a substantitive argument as to why altruism and humanitarianism are more important motivating factors in US foreign policy than security and economic self interest.

BH:

This undefended sophistry depends on the term "better" and your ideas of progressive, democratic...and Saddam.

JW:

Of course it does, just as your view depends upon your ideas. And we could challenge each of those ideas constructively, looking for grounds for agreement, rather than fling hostile accusations at those who bring them forward.

BH:

Remember, Saddam (your better platform) began as murderer for Mukhabarat and led the rest of his life killing, torturing, starving and gassing, while building palaces and siring sons in his obscene likeness.

JW:

And whoever said that he was a nice guy? My remarks were not about Saddam the person, but about building something better from a starting point of order rather than the crap shoot of chaos, which is where it appears the country is now.

I also remember the Saddam who shook Donald Rumsfeld's hand when he was our brutal despot, and his crimes that took place when we were covering up for him. After all, what are a few dead Kurds and a repressive police state if it helps counter balance the Iranians? If you want to talk about the evils of Saddam, let's also talk about the evils of Carter, Reagan and Bush Sr. doing business with him and supporting him to one degree or another.

I would defend Saddam no more than Pinochet or Franco, and in the same vein I don't think that blowing up Chile or Spain would have been the way to get rid of them, anymore than blowing up Iraq is the best way to remove or defang Saddam.

We could debate those points without all of the anti-American baiting, but to do so might indicate some acknowledgement that US policy hasn't been all sweetness and light.

BH:

Wrong family, Mr. West. You neglected to mention that the bank in question was owned and operated by the Harriman family who owned 4000 shares - that Prescott Bush owned 1 share - and that Averill Harriman served FDR with distinction during and after WWII. If there were tainted transactions with the Reich, do you really think Roosevelt would have honored the Harriman family?

JW:

So 1 share is not involvement? How many shares does it take to become involved? And, is it true or not that Prescott Bush sat on the board of directors of one or more companies doing business in Nazi Germany? Would that be involvement?

Contrary to how you characterize my position, I never said that any of this constituted treason. But is does indicate values, and not necessarily the values of the Third Reich, but the value of profit wherever and whenever one can find it, at least up to a point. Humanitarianism and altruism certainly don't seem to be on the radar screen.

Of course if people did not do business with governments like the Third Reich, sell them industrial goods, arms or whatever, perhaps the world might not have as many problems. But then a certain segment of socity might not have as much profit, either. A matter of values.

I would be interested in your references to material on the Bush family and the issues surrounding their investments and corporate participation.

And, by the way, no one served FDR with distinction after WWII, except maybe in memory. :)

Would you say that we would be better off today if we had an FDR instead of a WJC or a GWB?


Bill Heuisler - 5/12/2003

Mr. West,
You probably hoped we'd all forgotten the first thing you said.

Your point (as you call it) that began this is the following:
"Our boy Saddam may have been a nasty number, but at least he was secular and provided a better platform to build a progressive, democratic society from than anything that the Mullahs or even Jay Garner may construct." 5/5/03

This undefended sophistry depends on the term "better" and your ideas of progressive, democratic...and Saddam. Remember, Saddam (your better platform) began as murderer for Mukhabarat and led the rest of his life killing, torturing, starving and gassing, while building palaces and siring sons in his obscene likeness.

Your defense:
"The attack, as you frame it, was a critical observation of US foreign policy wherein I hold that said policy has not been driven by humanistic or altruistic motives."
A critical observation? Now that's confused.

And then more West nonsense:
"As for libeling the Bushes, I pointed out that the family was involved in investments in the Third Reich."
Wrong family, Mr. West. You neglected to mention that the bank in question was owned and operated by the Harriman family who owned 4000 shares - that Prescott Bush owned 1 share - and that Averill Harriman served FDR with distinction during and after WWII. If there were tainted transactions with the Reich, do you really think Roosevelt would have honored the Harriman family?

Your charges and opinions are pathetic; your defenses more so.
Bill Heuisler


NYGuy - 5/12/2003

JW

I am still waiting for some proof that humanitarianism and altruism were the driving forces of US foreign policy. So far we have heard lots of Disneyesque fanfare about how great the US is with challenges to prove that it is not, but that is totally irrelevant to what motivates US foreign policy.

NYG

YOu have not given honest answers to any responses given to you. You now state that you know of no proof that humanitarianisum and altruism were (past) the driving forces of US foreign policy. Since there are many reasons for our foreign policy you pick what you want to be that driving force, without proof that is the major driving force, and then sit back smugly and say "I can't see any humanitarianism or altruism. Clever, slick, but still a propaganda piece, not a discussion of history. Since you don't know what you are talking about you can not be challenged. And giving dishonest, rediculus answers to some of the reponses indicates to me that your speciality is not even history. This is my view. Prove my opinion, as being false to me.


Jerry West - 5/12/2003


NYGuy wrote:

We had the anti-war crowd in the east trying to take over local governments and force them to pass such resolutions.... Needless to say not one anti-war message were passed.

JW:

From the list I have I see that they were successful in a number of places in New England, New York and PA.

NYG:

Support for our troops grew and the local heroes fighting for our country are now getting the recognition they deserve in our local papers.

JW:

But this is not about support for the troops. Support or opposition to the war is not about support for the troops. In fact one could argue that keeping troops out of ill conceived adventures is support for the troops. Now we may debate the merits of the adventure, but don't confuse either side as support or opposition to the troops.

For your information, I have a numer of family members among those troops. Was a troop once myself in another war, and can tell you from experience that a lot of troops do not support some of the wars that they have to fight.

Support the troops is often a cop out position used to divert attention away from debating whether we should be engaging in a war or not. When used as such it is a disrespect to the troops.

NYG:

Substitute altruism and human rights into your statement and we see that you are not interested in reasoned debate, but want to chose the HNN site to spew out your anti-war, hate America propaganda.

JW:

Talk about spew! I expected more than such triteness from you. And when it comes to propaganda, the pro-war side weighs in tons ahead of those opposed, even the major news networks have turned into non-critical rooting sections for whatever the government position of the day is on Iraq. And hate, what a cheap and unsubstantiated shot. From the very small amount of discourse that has occured here you can have not much idea at all about how I feel about America. I assure you that it is not hate.

NYG:

You have never defined your terms and just change them each time a reasoned response is made.

JW:

I am still waiting for some proof that humanitarianism and altruism were the driving forces of US foreign policy. So far we have heard lots of Disneyesque fanfare about how great the US is with challenges to prove that it is not, but that is totally irrelevant to what motivates US foreign policy.

I have not said that the US is not a great place, nor that it has not done some good things, because I think that it is and has. Now if you think differently from I, then present your points.

NYG:

You never answered my last comment. As I said my wife's family came over on the second boat and helped to establish this special country. Our families are very proud of what has been accomplished for altruism and human rights. Your family came over 300 years ago and I gather you have not found that to be the case. In your travels have you found that idealized country that you keep in your mind?

JW:

The accomplishments in altruism and human rights are things to be proud of, but as my original argument stated, they are not the driving force in US foreign policy. The issue here is US foreign policy and what motivates it, not how great the US is otherwise.

As for an ideal country, one does not exist, but neither is there any one that stands out better than all of the others, though admittedly some are far worse than others. Rather than putting a country on a pedestal and worshipping it, it is better to see it as an organic thing that is in continual need of repair and improvement.

NYG:

This wont have any meaning to you, but for those with an open mind, you may remember the French presented the U. S. with the Statute of Liberty to celebrate the “altruistic and human rights” that America stands for.

JW:

Would this be the same French who saved our bacon during the Revolutionary War? The same French who stood up for the UN and the principles of cooperation and multilateral agreement? (regardless of whatever other motivations they may have had) Are these the French who now the sillier elements of the US want to castigate, dump their wine, take their name off of fried potatoes? I am amazed that someone has not suggested that we send the Statue of Liberty back too. :)

Actually, I have no problem with the French or the Statue of Liberty, nor the inscription which sums up a part of the greater American experience. However, it has nothing to do with the motivation of US foreign policy. What the US stands for and what it does are often in contradiction with one another. And, that is not necessarily an anti-American point of view.


NYGuy - 5/12/2003

Re-Reading Mr. West's post I realized even more that this was not an honest discussion, but a slick propaganda technique to discredit the United States. The non-answers with political overtones, the dis-honesty in dealing with legitimate rebutals, the yes, but technique of the salesman, i.e. yes the U. S did some good things, but......, the slickly styled replies, etc. If one goes back and reads JW's answer slowly vs the questions posed, it will soon become apparent what is happening on this board. But, then honest discourse was never the domain of people who held signs that read: Bush = Hitler.


Jerry West - 5/12/2003


Bill Heuisler wrote:

West has attacked this country's history from one point-of-view without qualification. He's libeled this President's family without any evidence and then admitted his ignorance and actual malice.

JW:

Pretty sweeping statements. You forgot the part about being an agent of Satan and conspiring to control international banking. :)

The attack, as you frame it, was a critical observation of US foreign policy wherein I hold that said policy has not been driven by humanistic or altruistic motives. To date in this exchange there has been lots of whining and foaming and derisional charges made in rebuttal, but never a direct response as to what motivates US foreign policy other than the repetitive feel good propaganda about how wonderful and perfect the US is. Something that is more appropriate for glorious Hollywood productions than serious debate.

As for libeling the Bushes, I pointed out that the family was involved in investments in the Third Reich. Information that I have seen indicates that this is so. I welcome your definite proof that the Bush family never had any dealings with the Third Reich, and continue to wait for same.

Certainly I have admitted a degree of ignorance, it is only fair to do so and qualify my credentials. We are all ignorant in one way or another. I work with what information that I have and am certainly open to more. Significant new information might even change my view of things, however, none has been forthcoming in this debate.

As for malice, what a hoot. That charge is a smoke screen to divert away from the absence of serious rebuttal to my point. A point that has been continuously sidestepped in your responses.

And, you may continue to characterize a genuine and critical concern for my country as hatred, but it says more about your position than mine.




Bill Heuisler - 5/12/2003

Derek,
Why must we waste time in juvenile connotative interpretations?
West has attacked this country's history from one point-of-view without qualification. He's libeled this President's family without any evidence and then admitted his ignorance and actual malice. Your whining about Mandela and then invoking Mr. Duke was both amusingly irrelevant and uncharacteristically artless.

Call me any name you wish in order to win debating points, but you know exactly the difference between attacking this country without argument, evidence or fact, and criticizing President Carter utilizing specific incidents and causal consequences.

Your usual m.o. continues: defend some HNN idiocy by changing the subject, whining about unfair attacks and avoiding facts.
Find the term, un-American, in any of my posts and we'll talk about your tail-gunner nightmares.
Bill


NYGuy - 5/12/2003

JW you commented:

“As an aside, I have on my desk a list of over 80 US communities and counties that have passed resolutions and ordinances opposed to the Patriot Act. I haven't read through them, but Arcata, CA, I hear, is prohibiting its officials from enforcing or abetting enforcement of the law. A lot of Americans out there are really opposed to the direction the terror fetish is taking the country.”

NYG

We had the anti-war crowd in the east trying to take over local governments and force them to pass such resolutions using un-democratic means of packing local meetings and not allowing a referendum by the total citizenry. The response was amazing. The patriotic outpouring by the American Legion, the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Korean War Veterans, and ordinary citizens was spontaneous and overwhelming. Needless to say not one anti-war message were passed. Support for our troops grew and the local heroes fighting for our country are now getting the recognition they deserve in our local papers.

JW

“I think that much of this could have been avoided had US foreign policy really been built around humanitarianism, altruism and cooperation rather than the self interest of those who influence the formation of that policy.”

Meanwhile, answers to questions posed to you were dismissed as, “The answers to the questions are irrelevant”

And you added, “what is better or best is a subjective value and I suspect that whatever examples that are given that do not match someone's personal values will be debated in a cycle with no end, so what is the point?

NYG

Substitute altruism and human rights into your statement and we see that you are not interested in reasoned debate, but want to chose the HNN site to spew out your anti-war, hate America propaganda.

Your discourses remind me of the old game, pick a number from one to ten. Since the one who poses the question determines the answer to the question, he can just say no to every number advance. That is similar to your discussion. You have never defined your terms and just change them each time a reasoned response is made.

You never answered my last comment. As I said my wife's family came over on the second boat and helped to establish this special country. Our families are very proud of what has been accomplished for altruism and human rights. Your family came over 300 years ago and I gather you have not found that to be the case. In your travels have you found that idealized country that you keep in your mind?

This wont have any meaning to you, but for those with an open mind, you may remember the French presented the U. S. with the Statute of Liberty to celebrate the “altruistic and human rights” that America stands for. At the base is following inscription:

Pedestal Inscription
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your
teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed,
to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
— Emma Lazarus, 1883, written to help raise funds for construction of the pedestal.

Of course there is a creative response to this. I hope so, I want to measure the level of your corrupt thinking.

Remember the Twin Towers, Support our Troops, Keep them safe.


Derek Catsam - 5/12/2003

Bill -- I have no idea what issue you have with Mandela. Greatest leader of our era, perhaps of any. Would have been my choice for Man of the Century. Led the most important liberation struggle in the twentieth century. An absolute hero. This is not worth arguing.

I do not "qualify" Mugabe, except when you say things, as you have in the past, that "Zimbabwe has no history worth studying," a comment xenophobic at best and at its heart racist given that the 95% of the population in Zim who are black always called racist Rhodesia "Zimbabwe."

I qualify Carter because his intent was human rights -- and far more explicitly so than this administration until it realized that so far our reason for invasion -- WMDs -- is a chimera. I supported this war explicitly for the humanitarian purposes. The administration did not. If human rights were the most important issue, especially when linked with terrorism, we'd have been in Sudan long ago.

Mr. West says he has not studied Zinn and Chomsky. His post does not quote, allude to, or hint at Zinn or Chomsky. But that is your way of tainting anyone who disagrees with you without actually engaging them. Mr. West sounds nothing like Zinn, certainly, as he is supportive of the United States where he sees it appropriate and is critical where it is necessary.

I still have not received a satisfactory answer as to why someone's criticism of the United States is un-American save when you criticize Carter, at which point you are the one true patriot. And so again I assert, it is too bad that you hate America so much and that your words come straight from the Liddy-Duke playbook. Do unto others, after all . . .


Bill Heuisler - 5/12/2003

Mr. West,
History sites are bad places to spout baseless indictments. You nurse grievances against your country, coddle your hatreds and gather bad news like a town gossip. But you are obviously a fraud - you assert without argument, attack without facts, accuse of historic evil and then refuse to define terms.

Answer#1: "The answers to the questions are irrelevant"
Answer#2 "What is better or best is a subjective value"
Such convenient sophistry after so many vivid condemnations.

Then you confess an appalling historical innocence: You say,
"As for a constitutional government with longer standing. Again, what is the point? It might be an interesting topic to explore, but I wouldn't even hazard a comment without considerable research since I am not up to speed on the various governments of the past 5000 years." Deliberate ignorance, maybe?

You also accused the Bush family of crimes or treason. When challenged, you again confessed an almost malicious ignorance:
You said, "As for the Bush involvement (along with a host of others, including Democrats and God only knows what other persuasions) with the Third Reich, I will admit to not being a scholar on the issue. But from what little I know it is much more complicated than a LaRouche conspiracy theory..."

Not up to speed? Not a scholar? If you don't know, how can you accuse? Knowledge is power, but the opposite is also true. Become better informed before publicly indulging pet hatreds or you appear even more weak and foolish than you probably are.
Bill Heuisler


Jerry West - 5/12/2003


Bill Heuisler wrote:

My prattle has apparently managed to stump you at least. Three questions asked, none answered. Is "best" too complicated?

JW:

The answers to the questions are irrelevant to the discussion for one, as the issue is not better or worse, but the motivation behind US foreign policy which I contend rates very low on the "we did it for alturistic and humanitarian reasons" scale.

For two, what is better or best is a subjective value and I suspect that whatever examples that are given that do not match someone's personal values will be debated in a cycle with no end, so what is the point? There are places in the world where I have more freedoms and protections in certain areas than in the US, and sometimes also less in other areas, so better or worse at any one time could be situational depending upon the needs of the moment.

As for a constitutional government with longer standing. Again, what is the point? It might be an interesting topic to explore, but I wouldn't even hazard a comment without considerable research since I am not up to speed on the various governments of the past 5000 years.

BH:

Imagine the relationship if you regaled each family gathering with an aunt or uncle's flaws and mis-spent youth.

JW:

Yes, but we are not discussing mis-spent youth here. We are facing ongoing and institutionalized malignant behaviour. Imagine going to a family reunion where the aunts and uncles were plotting to rob yet another bank with your assistance. Would you feel obliged to speak up?

BH:

The Zinns and Chomskys of the world have nothing else but hatred of their country in their lives...

JW:

And the point is? Besides, I wouldn't know, having never studied the Zinns or the Chomskys.

NYGuy wrote:

I liked your example of the parent. Reminds me of the student who came home with a 99% paper and the mother chastised him for getting one wrong.

JW:

Think of it more as a student in an Explosives Ordinance Disposal class who got 99% of the live exercise right only to miss the last part which literally removed him from the course.

NYG:

I think your score is low. My score, given “proper weighting” to the seriousness of the issues at hand, would be closer to 95-98%. .... Looking at the number of people who are trying to come to the U. S. either legally or illegally, when properly weighted gives the U. S. another 100%.

JW:

But the point is about humanitarianism and altruism as motivators for US foreign policy, not about whether people want to live here or not, which is a totally different issue. One could, I suppose, make the argument that the US support of brutal dictatorships abroad has motivated people there to flee their country for the more benign and economically advantageous US.

NYG:

....the U. S. policies of promoting greater democracies around the world. For the U. S. let us say a 95%.

JW:

Pretty optimistic. I think a detailed examination might give you more of a mixed bag when it comes to promoting or subverting democracy. Democracy is not the main concern in policy, security and economic advantage are.

NYG:

A fair statement, but when you “properly weight” the contents against the background of the events worldwide, the U. S. gets another 100%. After all they did save the world for democracy in two world wars.

JW:

First it is debatable whether the US actually saved the world, they certainly helped to win those wars, but so did the rest of the allies, and the contribution of the Soviets and the People's Liberation Army played no small role in wearing down the Germans and the Japanese. A more accurate statement would be to say that the US accelerated the victory.

As for WWI, saving the world for democracy is meaningless propaganda, and given the fact that US intervention enabled the Brits and French to basically dictate rather than negotiate a peace settlement probably had more bad effects in the long run than had they beaten themselves to a standstill. Of course one may argue that the Germans might have actually won, but that is debatable for one, and if they did how would it have affected democracy in the long run?

NYG:

The problem is that neither Harriman, Bush nor other Partners in their investment firm was dealing with the enemy and against their country. Their has been no evidence shown that their firm was dealing with Hitler at the time the world knew his true intent, and while Chamberlain was telling the world that Hitler wanted peace.

JW:

I am not saying that they were dealing with the enemy against their country. They were investing in and providing material to a known fascist regime, this up until 1942. Again, the point for me is that the foreign policy of the country and its leaders, in this case as exemplified by the business elite to which the Bushes belong, (along with Democrats) is not driven by humanitarian or altruistic motives, but often runs counter to those interests.

NYG:

Please stop with the “bad white man” ploy, in today’s highly diversified America, it only makes one sound like a bigot.

JW:

Except that I was not addressing today's more diversified US, the discussion was on historic immigration patterns (particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as prior to that one might more accurately call it trans-continental migration rather than immigration), again which had little to do with altruism and humanitarianism as a driving force in policy, and more to do with the need for immigrants, preferably white, as a study of social and legal history of the times may reveal.

NYG:

Yes people were killed but it was not comparable to the millions of people who have come to the U. S. for human rights and our altruism.

JW:

If human rights and altruism were the foundatins of policy, then no one would have been sent back to the killing fields.

NYG:

You say that World War II was a matter of self-defense, and suggest no one’s human rights were violated.

JW:

You read words into what I said, and they are wrong. The US did get into WWII for self defense and not for human rights, that is correct, but never did I say or imply that human rights were not violated. Human rights violations are a normal part of any war, I can tell you from both scholarly and first hand experience.

NYG:

Your view that it (Twin Towers) is a cause celebre for the government to use fear to drive an agenda, is not an opinion shared by those who have been attached nor anyone else outside the anti-war and hate America groups.

JW:

That puts a whole lot of people in the anti-war and the so called hate America camp. Though I suspect that most Americans who are accused of hating America love it as much or more than their detractors. Demonizing people is an easy way to avoid debate on what may turn out to be uncomfortable truths.

As HL Mencken once said: "The notion that a radical is one who hates this country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."

NYG:

....for those of us who face the threat of terrorism each day,....

JW:

Should be asking serious questions about why, and examining not only external reasons, but internal ones as well. (Which is not to say than anybody deserved it, no one deserved it, but it isn't the only undeserved thing on the planet.)

As an aside, I have on my desk a list of over 80 US communities and counties that have passed resolutions and ordinances opposed to the Patriot Act. I haven't read through them, but Arcata, CA, I hear, is prohibiting its officials from enforcing or abetting enforcement of the law. A lot of Americans out there are really opposed to the direction the terror fetish is taking the country.

I think that much of this could have been avoided had US foreign policy really been built around humanitarianism, altruism and cooperation rather than the self interest of those who influence the formation of that policy.

Bill Heuisler wrote:

.... please reread Mr. West's remarks on history. Sound familiar? Right. Near-quotes from Howard and Noam. My argument is that the US has always been an altruistic force for freedom in the long-term. Mr. West uses Chomskyisms and rants from Zinn and even LaRouche.

JW:

Pretty good since I am not very familiar with Zinn or Chomsky, as noted above, nor with LaRouche for that matter. Besides, attempting to discredit an argument by invoking association with someone rather than on the merits of the argument is a duck and cover manuever.

As for the Bush involvement (along with a host of others, including Democrats and God only knows what other persuasions) with the Third Reich, I will admit to not being a scholar on the issue. But from what little I know it is much more complicated than a LaRouche conspiracy theory. Here is a link to a review of some books on the topic, including the LaRouche connected one. Folks may make of it what they will, I have no judgement on any of the books or the website.

http://www.thethresher.com/indiscreet.html


Josh Greenland - 5/12/2003

There's an urban saying, Jerry, that if you argue with a crazy person on the street, no one can tell who the crazy person is.


Bill Heuisler - 5/11/2003

Derek,
You say, "Mr. West made a whole series of fine and in many ways compelling arguments..."
Really? He accused with words like occupied, subversive, business with the Third Reich etc. No facts just attacks.
You who are always so eager to qualify people like Presidents Mugabe, Mandela and Carter will defend vague and ahistorical attacks on the United States and President Bush? Why, Brutus?

As to your objection to my mentioning Chomsky and Zinn: please
reread Mr. West's remarks on history. Sound familiar? Right. Near-quotes from Howard and Noam. My argument is that the US has always been an altruistic force for freedom in the long-term. Mr. West uses Chomskyisms and rants from Zinn and even LaRouche.
Your defense has shaken my faith in All Western Civilization.
Bill


NYGuy - 5/11/2003

I enjoyed your response and appreciate your taking the time to clarify your position, which you did.

I liked your example of the parent. Reminds me of the student who came home with a 99% paper and the mother chastised him for getting one wrong. Perhaps we can still use this rating scale, but be more reasonable in its interpretation.

JW
“The US has done some wonderful things, that stands without debate, but when it comes to altruism and Human Rights as primary motivators for foreign policy, on a scale of one to ten they barely make the visible mark.” Here is a point of disagreement. Your score is almost zero, and you cite some reasons why.

NYG
I think your score is low. My score, given “proper weighting” to the seriousness of the issues at hand, would be closer to 95-98%. See below.
It is difficult to debate your arguments on the best place in the world, and as you say it is subjective. Looking at the number of people who are trying to come to the U. S. either legally or illegally, when properly weighted gives the U. S. another 100%.

JW
“I prefer my society to be vibrant and reaching for perfection rather than stagnant and making excuses for its failings.”

NYG
You don’t cite who this country is, so this is just an idealized vision and neglects the U. S. policies of promoting greater democracies around the world. For the U. S. let us say a 95%.

JW
“I guess we could discuss slavery and the treatment of minorities in various countries, or differences in the treatment of Aboriginal peoples between say, Canada and the US. Perhaps we should mention the internment camps of WWII, both to the shame of the US and Canada. Of course this is not to say that there are not good comparisons too. Of course there are, and we can surely come up with a lot of places that worse, but still, there are some fine places in the world outside of the US too, and to put the US on a pedestal of "best" is an arrogant mistake.”

NYG
A fair statement, but when you “properly weight” the contents against the background of the events worldwide, the U. S. gets another 100%. After all they did save the world for democracy in two world wars. Have you ever added up the number of people whose “human rights” were violated versus the hundred of millions of people whose “human rights” were preserved due to the foreign policy of the U. S?

I don’t think you made a good argument about those dealing with the enemy”? The problem is that neither Harriman, Bush nor other Partners in their investment firm was dealing with the enemy and against their country. Their has been no evidence shown that their firm was dealing with Hitler at the time the world knew his true intent, and while Chamberlain was telling the world that Hitler wanted peace.

JW
Re: Immigration you said, “So? This was done neither for altruistic or humanitarian reasons, the US needed immigrants, preferably white, and it took them in by the millions. Of course if we examine the policy towards Asians and non-whites things are not exactly the same.”

NYG
Let us review for a moment. The U. S. was the second major world democracy after England, ( I might be wrong on the ranking, but they were very early), and before France, Germany, Italy and Russia. England’s human rights with both Ireland and Scotland was not good and people from both countries came to this country for liberty not as hired hands. The German’s were even more impressed by the U. S. and cherished our freedom and being a united country. Not only did they not come just to work, but they volunteered, fought, and were killed defending their believe in America. The same applied to both the Scotch and Irish. Of course those who escaped from Russia and Eastern Europe were not looking to America for Jobs but for freedom of religion and from the pogroms. As for whites, NYC is now 65% non-white, the Asian and non-white population is so great that you don’t even see English signs in some place. Please stop with the “bad white man” ploy, in today’s highly diversified America, it only makes one sound like a bigot. Again, giving this topic its proper weighting, the U. S. get a 98%.

JW
You implied that millions of those fleeing Europe in the 1930’s were turned back.

NYG
If as you say millions were turned back, Europe and the rest of the world would have had a better understanding of the danger’s Hitler posed much earlier, and would have stopped him. Again see Chamberlain. I believe you are referring to a boatload of Jews who were turned away.

Further you say, “And those who were sent back to face the US supported terror squads of El Salvador and Guatemala, to name just two places.” Yes people were killed but it was not comparable to the millions of people who have come to the U. S. for human rights and our altruism.

JW
You say that World War II was a matter of self-defense, and suggest no one’s human rights were violated. Is that all you come away with when you study WWII. Meanwhile, in World War I you suggest that Germany was justified in attacking France and no one was to blame, and the U. S. who was 3,000 miles away should have stayed out of it. The war in France was called the “meatgrinder” and the U. S. was the only one who could break the Hindenburg Line and stop the slaughter. For one who champions human rights it seems you don’t believe we should have stopped of the killing.

JW/NYG
What people are being held incommunicado. Is the whole history profession, the whole legal profession, etc. so impotent they can’t protect our liberties? The law is confused and one should not mix legality with morality. And you can sit in your safe peaceful confines and opine all you want, but for those of us who face the threat of terrorism each day, we do not agree with your unsubstantiated conclusions.

Your view that it (Twin Towers) is a cause celebre for the government to use fear to drive an agenda, is not an opinion shared by those who have been attached nor anyone else outside the anti-war and hate America groups.

JW
Incidentally, I am in neither category, my family came to New England over 300 years ago. If you find out why, I would like to know. I am still digging on that. :)

NYG
My wife’s family came over on the second boat and was at Concord, Bunker Hill, the Mohawk valley, etc. I have done the genealogy on her family and am well aware of the history of the period and why her family and my families came to this country and am very proud of them and of America. I am sorry to hear you have not found that satisfaction, but it is a big world and it sounds like you do a lot traveling. I hope some day you realize your dream. I know my family has realized theirs, living in a free and just country.

We have a disagreement, which is fine and many of the topics are subjective. I salute you for standing up for what you believe in. I hope I can continue to do the same.

Cheers. :)


Derek Catsam - 5/11/2003

Bill --
Who the hell mentioned Zinn or Chomsky? Will you argue against the points made and not against the points you want to have made? You always seem to pull out your vacuously rhetorical "why do you hate America so much" or else some irrelevant dross about Zinn or Chomsky. Mr. West made a whole series of fine and in many ways compelling arguments, not a single one of which did you address. He goes out of his way to credit America so as not to have pseudo=patriots challenge him. This is not a zero sum game with the greatness of America or else the horribleness of America at stake as the only possible results. I have yet to see anyone here say that they hate America. Someday, sometime, maybe you will realize that being critical of American foreign policy (hey, wait a second -- didn't this whole strand start off with you responding to my post re: Carter with a whole series of criticisms about Carter's foreign policy, one or too of which even made sense? Bill, why do you hate America so much? The Falwells and Liddys of the world have nothing else but hatred of the values of their cvountry in their lives, and that is really sophomoric.) is not akin to hating the country many of us hope to see improve.


Bill Heuisler - 5/11/2003

Mr. West,
My prattle has apparently managed to stump you at least. Three questions asked, none answered. Is "best" too complicated? Okay. Simply name a more altruistic country in history and my comments to you will be exposed as painfully unsophisticated.

Imagine the relationship if you regaled each family gathering with an aunt or uncle's flaws and mis-spent youth. Destructive? Of course. Endless censure merely accentuates your avoidance of the fact that three hundred years of immigrants voted for the greatest country in the world with their dreams and their feet.

To quote a recent President, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." Your criticisms stand alone, no point, no purpose. Why?
The Zinns and Chomskys of the world have nothing else but hatred of their country in their lives...and that's really sophomoric.
Bill Heuisler



Jerry West - 5/11/2003


Bill Heuisler wrote:

Where did you develop such a store of hatred for your country?

JW:

What hatred? You confuse criticism of certain parts of the countries actions with hatred. It isn't so, any more than a parent (decent parents anyhow) hates their child when they criticize it.

As you may have not noticed, I did say that the US has done some wonderful things, exactly I said:

The US has done some wonderful things, that stands without debate, but when it comes to altruism and Human Rights as primary motivaters for foreign policy, on a scale of one to ten they barely make the visible mark.

And, I will stand by that statement. Foreign policy as a whole has not been based on altruism and human rights as some would prattle. For the most part it has been conducted to either further or defend US interests. Sometimes that policy has had positive effects for human rights, other times very negative ones. You are welcome to deny that if you will.

BH:

The United States is not perfect, but it's better than anything else the world has to offer.

JW:

That is debatable. I have lived in several countries in my lifetime and visited many more. The United States does not have a monopoly on being a good place to live. I seem to recall UN reports that compare countries as to where the best place is to live, and the US is not usually at the top of the pile. Of course these kinds of comparisons are subjective to some extent, and what is the best place for one may not be for another. But to say that the US is the best place in the world is sophomoric. This is not to say that it is a bad place either.

BH:

Perfection does not exist in the human condition.

JW:

Of course, but striving for it does. I prefer my society to be vibrant and reaching for perfection rather than stagnant and making excuses for its failings.

BH:

Name a country in written history with a better record for human rights. (and etc)

JW:

I guess we could discuss slavery and the treatment of minorities in various countries, or differences in the treatment of Aboriginal peoples between say, Canada and the US. Perhaps we should mention the internment camps of WWII, both to the shame of the US and Canada. Of course this is not to say that there are not good comparisons too. Of course there are, and we can surely come up with a lot of places that worse, but still, there are some fine places in the world outside of the US too, and to put the US on a pedestal of "best" is an arrogant mistake.

BH:

Where is your castigation of this icon of the Democratic Party?

JW:

Who cares about Democrats or Republicans? Party politics is not the issue here. Both sides have their failings and both are responsible for decisions that trampled human and democratic rights. Truth be told, a lot of people were dealing with the Nazis to their eternal shame. Same can be said for Franco and a host of other dictators, not to mention the ones that we created later. Perhaps rather than looking at things thru the lense of Republican or Democrat we should be judging them by whether or not they do business with tyrants and dictators, no matter how small their stake.

NYGuy wrote:

You may have heard of the acceptance of millions of starving Irish in the 1800’s and the acceptance of millions of Germans and Italians during the same period.

JW:

So? This was done neither for altruistic or humanitarian reasons, the US needed immigrants, preferably white, and it took them in by the millions. Of course if we examine the policy towards Asians and non-whites things are not exactly the same.

NYG:

....the millions who fled Europe during the 1930’s....

JW:

And some of those millions were turned back. This is not the most wonderful period of our history.

NYG:

....and the millions who fled from the dictatorships in the Caribbean and Cuba....

JW:

And those who were sent back to face the US supported terror squads of El Salvador and Guatemala, to name just two places.

NYG:

And you may have heard about American actions during WW II when the human rights of millions of people were destroyed, as well as their lives. I would also throw in our actions against aggression in WW I.

JW:

So? Who is debating the necessity for fighting in WWII? An act of self defense to be sure, waiting almost three years to get into it while the Brits, French, Canadians and other Commenwealth troops were already fighting it, by the way. Being on the right side in WWII does make one on the right side forever.

As for WWI, there was no right side.

NYG:

Meanwhile, you say "I bet that it is in the interest of Human Rights that the government is restricting civil liberties and human rights." I don’t believe you can back up this comment,....

JW:

Check out the Patriot Act, explain holding people incommunicado for months without access to legal representation or family. I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think of some of the things that are happening in government today?

NYG:

I wonder if you have heard of the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC and the attack on the pentagon.

JW:

A great cause celebre for the government to use fear to drive its agenda. That is not to say that it was not a trajedy, or that it is excusable, but in times like these one needs to be especially cautious and calm in reacting or hysteria will wipe away centuries of progress.

NYG:

Since we are all immigrants one wonders why your family came here if this is such a terrible country compared to where they came from.

JW:

I don't recall making that comparison, nor have I said that the US is a terrible country. I wonder why you are so defensive?

Also, some of us are not immigrants, at least not for about 12,000 years, and many of us are descended from people who did not want to come here in the first place, but had no choice.

Incidentally, I am in neither category, my family came to New England over 300 years ago. If you find out why, I would like to know. I am still digging on that. :)


NYGuy - 5/10/2003

Mr. West,

You talk about Altruism: i.e. unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. You also talk of human rights but you don’t believe these terms apply to the United States.

You may have heard of the acceptance of millions of starving Irish in the 1800’s and the acceptance of millions of Germans and Italians during the same period. These three countries did not become democracies until well after the U. S. You may have heard of the millions of Russian Jews who escaped the pogroms at the turn of the 1900-century. Perhaps you are aware of the millions who fled Europe during the 1930’s and the millions who fled from the dictatorships in the Caribbean and Cuba during the 1950.

And you may have heard about American actions during WW II when the human rights of millions of people were destroyed, as well as their lives. I would also throw in our actions against aggression in WW I.

Meanwhile, you say “I bet that it is in the interest of Human Rights that the government is restricting civil liberties and human rights. I don’t believe you can back up this comment, but it feeds your soul to say it. I wonder if you have heard of the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC and the attack on the pentagon. Did you have anyone who was killed or experienced that horrible day? For eleven million Americans living in NYC we did experience the horror of that day and the threat still exists. While many living in small rural communities can spew out false accusations, the protection of our lives and our family is important. I don’t believe our freedoms are been diminished, but I do believe we are being smarter to protect our citizenry against another tragedy.

Since we are all immigrants one wonders why your family came here if this is such a terrible country compared to where they came from. Were they part of the problem, and therefore may be the reason for your anger, or were they part of what made this country the greatest country in the World, but your training has blinded you to the true facts.


Bill Heuisler - 5/10/2003

Mr. West,
No satire. Complete sincerity. Where did you develop such a store of hatred for your country? And what does such animus accomplish?

The United States is not perfect, but it's better than anything else the world has to offer. Perfection does not exist in the human condition. Name a country in written history with a better record for human rights. Name a country with more unfettered individual rights. Name me a Constitutional Government with longer standing. Failing to accomplish any of these tasks, please restrain your bile and look for means of improvement rather than reasons to criticize. You know, light a candle etc.

Getting information from a crony of Lyndon LaRouche has its perils. The Bank that dealt with Germany in the thirties was owned by the Harriman family. Averill owned thousands of shares. Prescott Bush owned one. Where is your castigation of this icon of the Democratic Party? Open your eyes. Blind hatred is foolish and gets a little boring after a while.
Bill Heuisler


Josh Greenland - 5/10/2003

In my previous post, the first paragraph was not quoted. It should have been. I quoted Suetonius in the first paragraph and responded to the quote in the rest of the post.

I think I understand how you came to that error, Sue. I also erroneously believed "the Armenian genocide happened in 1915," until I looked on the web for reply material, and discovered it only STARTED IN 1915.

I recall reading somewhere that the Turkish government is working to influence the Republican party of the US to its evil false position that the Armenian genocide never happened, with some success. Perhaps that's why Pipes included Ataturk in his little list of democratic strongmen??

What I don't understand is how Pipes could be SO wrong about Ataturk, given that he is supposed to be some kind of Middle East scholar. But if he's this incompetent or gullible, he shouldn't have any role in dictating US middle eastern foreign policy, and his opinion should be given no more weight than that of any other citizen.


Jerry West - 5/10/2003


Bill Heuisler wrote:

Perhaps we should recognize, in the long term, the designs and altruisms of the Greatest World Democracy become de-facto Human Rights. United States history is the history of Human Rights victorious.

JW:

I assume that this is satire, right?

I am trying to figure out the altruism and support of Human Rights involved in the occupation of the Phillipines, the removal of Native Americans from their homelands, the subversion of democracy in Latin America, pick your country, the placing in power of Pinochet, Noriega, Saddam Hussein and a host of others, and the support of their brutalities.

Perhaps the Bush family was supporting altruism when it was doing business with the Third Reich, until forced to stop, and making deals with the Bin Laden family.

I bet that it is in the interest of Human Rights that the government is restricting civil liberties and human rights.

The US has done some wonderful things, that stands without debate, but when it comes to altruism and Human Rights as primary motivaters for foreign policy, on a scale of one to ten they barely make the visible mark.

As for Carter and Iran, no doubt Khoumeni was no prize, but neither was the Shah, and it was bound to turn out bad, Human Rights wise, no matter which way it went. One could compare the Shah to Saddam, maybe not as bloody, but still, good points for secularizing society and raising the living standard of some of the people, bad points for brutalizing those who disagreed.

The real screw up in Iran came when the US and British engineered the overthrow of the elected nationalist government of Mossadeq and opened the door for the Shah to take firm control over the country. Perhaps accepting the nationalization of the oil industry and continuing to support rather than subvert the government of Iran would have saved us a ton of trouble later down the road.


Bill Heuisler - 5/9/2003

Derek,
Your comment, "Jimmy Carter was onto something, however poorly executed, when he placed human rights issues front and center."
Only if you interpret Human Rights as short-term and shallow.

The "Human Rights" claim for Carter is (and was) a broadly misused term of a friendly news media. The truth? His policies nearly always appeased the International Left and resulted in less freedom for the people. One example: Carter supported Khoumeni over the Shah - actively undermined the Pahlavi father and son - to give Iranians one of the most oppressive Theocracies in the world. He replaced a Monarchy that was in the process of opening up society and the economy - more Iranian students were educated abroad under the Shah than any time before or since, and the economy was beginning to boom.

Why Left? Carter's policies mirrored a Viet-Nam "Glass Darkly" viewpoint that held United States interests suspect. So, he did more in four years to replace US-friends with US-enemies than any other modern president. His rational wasn't based on US national interest, but some other consideration. Think about it, setting aside the Sadat/Begin agreement, no US or international success emerged from his Left-skewed world-view. In fact, Carter set Human Rights back in the world by ignoring or disregarding United States' National Interests.

Perhaps we should recognize, in the long term, the designs and altruisms of the Greatest World Democracy become de-facto Human Rights. United States history is the history of Human Rights victorious. Short-term, feel-good, Left-Populism results in long-term human disaster; US National Interest has evolved to the long-term best interests of all humankind so far. Right?
Bill



Derek Catsam - 5/9/2003

Suetonius -- thanks for your response. I agree, the whole "right wing hawk" thing does not necessarily work and is probably unfair. I am a domestic lefty, but am more hawkish than most of my leftleaning brethren and so I get hammered from both sides for this.
Carter is especially interesting, because for all of the hand wringing over his supposedly ineffective response to the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan, and all of the emphasis on the grain embargo and Olympic boycott, he also got us involved in supporting war against the Soviets in ways that Reagan largely simply continued -- ie covert and not so covert support in the forms of arms, materiel, and money.


Josh Greenland - 5/9/2003

Check your history...the Armenian genocide occurred under the Ottoman Empire, amidst the First World War. Ataturk came to power afterwords and was in power in the 1920s.

He came to power in 1919. Unfortunately, the Armenian genocide went from 1915-1923, according to this article that has a link down the right side of HNN's home page:
http://hnn.us/comments/11625.html

This site describes Ataturk as "the consummator of the Armenian Genocide," and says that he killed of Armenians and worked for their expulsion from Turkey up to the end of his life:
http://www.armenian-genocide.org/encyclopedia/kemal.htm

This is typical of Pipes. His crackpot essay puts the happyface on so many vile regimes. Or were you trying to say something good about him?


Oliver - 5/9/2003


"Sue", the "genuinely curious", non-"quibbling", non-liar.


Suetonius - 5/9/2003

Derek,

read Tony Smith, America's Mission. The continuities between Carter and Reagan, and then again with G.W. Bush, of incorporating human rights into foreign policy are remarkable. When we talk about conservative hawks it's an awkward and ineffective terminology (I'm not critizing you) that comes from a lack of understanding about the nuances of the right. The "neoconservative" faction and the "realist" faction are not at all on the same wavelength here, although they often like the same political party.

As for why not the the others, a very good question. If you read the National Security Strategy put out in the fall, the problems in these countries come up as very high on the radar. The gradual outward creep of what are this country's areas of strategic interest now incorporate most of the globe. Why? because Afghanistan can be anywhere. I'm not saying it's right, or best, to intervene everywhere--it's beyond our means, and strategy is all about picking. But the ultimate result of improving the lives of those in those countries will benefit those countries, the region they are within, our own country, and ultimately the entire world. The bad old days of proping up dictators to use against other dictators (a la Hussein against the Iranians, or any number of other bad guys against the communist threat) have passed. If the fate of Milosevic and Hussein is any indication, no dictator is safe.


Jerry West - 5/8/2003


Suetonius wrote:

As for the aside, the moral question at heart is whether the deaths of 100 U.S. soldiers (and lasting effects on survivors) who chose to serve their country is a fair trade for the prevented deaths of countless Iraqi citizens who could not chose their leaders or refrain from serving in their army.

JW:

Two points here. One, the amount of countless Iraqis is debatable, and I wouldn't begin to estimate it without considerable information about the number of deaths previous and their surrounding circumstances, as I mentioned in an earlier post. So whether it was a fair trade or not is still questionable.

Two, whether the Iraqis could choose their own leader or not, or to serve in the military is also debatable. People can always choose to revolt or to not cooperate. More than one time in history citizens have choosen that option even with death the most probable outcome. Why the Iraqis choose to not take that route is their decision, and why we choose to conquer them rather than help them to liberate themselves is another question.

Give the divisions within Iraqi society it may be that the regime of Hussein, as despicable as it was, was the least bloody alternative available at the time for forging a united country and maintaining its independence. That possibility should be examined.

Suetonius wrote:

If the answer to that question is that U.S. lives were not worth it (a position that many of the soldiers themselves would not adhere to), then we have to wonder about just how much we are willing to pursue our national interests.

JW:

First, I am willing to bet that after the dust has settled and the patriotic BS level has settled down a bit, you will start finding a number of soldiers who question whether this war was worth it or not. Certainly a goodly number of veterans and senior officers were raising those questions in advance.

Second, what exactly are our national interests in Iraq that we were so avidly pursuing with this invasion? If pissing on the United Nations and alienating allies and countless others around the globe is seen in our best interest, then maybe we have a real victory here.

Suetonius wrote:

An unwillingness to pay the price for our ideals, to have the courage of our convictions and to be true to our beliefs that other people should not live under horrific oppression, leaves this country at the mercy of those....

JW:

Not only have consistently shown an unwillingness to pay the price for our ideals (at least those ideals that we founded our society on and claim to adhere to), we have consistently created, empowered, supported and abetted regimes that controlled their populations with horrific oppression. What does that say about our commitment to our ideals. Why should we suspect that this instance is any different and that all of the pious blather about liberations and yadda yadda, is no more than a convenient facade erected over something entirely different?

Suetonius wrote:

.... it is dangerous and unjust to remain beholden to that wishfulness at the expense of the people who remain oppressed.

JW:

Would that the US be a truly liberating power, removing tyrants and freeing societies to choose their own path, whether it be captialist, socialist or whatever they desire, without strings attached. That US does not exist. In reality the US only opposes oppression where such opposition serves its own needs, and supports it where such support serves the interests of those who pull the strings of power in the US. One has to wonder here what are the hidden costs to the world yet uncalculated in the conquest of Iraq.

Suetonius wrote:

To weigh the deaths of all the Iraqis last year against the virtuous path of peaceful diplomacy alone and find them equal is an affront to the dead Iraqis and to our own moral beliefs.

JW:

The actions of the US government are often as not affronts to our own moral beliefs. Perhaps we should be cleaning our own house before starting on a crusade to reshape the world.

Suetonius wrote:

It is virtuous ends, not merely virtuous means, that are essential.

JW:

Or in other words, the ends justify the means. That may be why we have Al Qaeda and Saddam in the first place, not to mention a host of others where in the end the ends went wrong.

I find it ironic that it was under Jimmy Carter, perhaps the most virtuous and humanitarian minded president in the past 50 years, that we foolishly set into motion in Afghanistan a chain of events that lead to 911 and many of the nasty problems that we now have to deal with.


Derek Catsam - 5/8/2003

Suetonius -- But if human rights are truly your concern, why Iraq and not the Sudan or Congo or Angola, all of which make Saddam's Iraq look like Disneyland? And if human rights suddenly are the prevailing motivation for conservatives in foreign policy, then are you all going to admit that maybe Jimmy Carter was onto something, however poorly executed, when he placed human rights issues front and center (and was mocked by conservative hawk types)? Or is the human rights benefit just a handy cudgel that you all can wield this time because the Iraq engagement seems to have worked out?


Suetonius - 5/8/2003

The irreconcilability of the two positions is noted.

As for the aside, the moral question at heart is whether the deaths of 100 U.S. soldiers (and lasting effects on survivors) who chose to serve their country is a fair trade for the prevented deaths of countless Iraqi citizens who could not chose their leaders or refrain from serving in their army. If the answer to that question is that U.S. lives were not worth it (a position that many of the soldiers themselves would not adhere to), then we have to wonder about just how much we are willing to pursue our national interests.

An unwillingness to pay the price for our ideals, to have the courage of our convictions and to be true to our beliefs that other people should not live under horrific oppression, leaves this country at the mercy of those who seek power at the expense of justice, who will act to sustain and expand that power, and who are perfectly willing to sacrifice those they do not care about for their personal gain. It is not isolationism or wrong to pursue peaceful means to the end removal of those oppressors, but it is dangerous and unjust to remain beholden to that wishfulness at the expense of the people who remain oppressed. To weigh the deaths of all the Iraqis last year against the virtuous path of peaceful diplomacy alone and find them equal is an affront to the dead Iraqis and to our own moral beliefs. It is virtuous ends, not merely virtuous means, that are essential.


Jerry West - 5/8/2003


Suetonius wrote:

My argument is simply that you were incorrect in concluding that it would have been better to launch democracy via reform of Hussein's Ba'athist Iraq, for the cost in human lives during the interim would be intolerable.

JW:

When we boil it down to that we have a stand off between two opinions, neither of which can be proven and both of which are possible.

As an aside, some might consider the loss of over 100 US lives up front and possibly thousands more due to after effects over the years as intolerable, no matter what the result in Iraq.


Suetonius - 5/8/2003

Check your history...the Armenian genocide occurred under the Ottoman Empire, amidst the First World War. Ataturk came to power afterwords and was in power in the 1920s.


Wilson - 5/8/2003


It's some commission. A peace commission, from what I remember. I kid you not.

Google it, or look on the NHH front page, where it was also reported that, apparently, the Bushies confused Daniel Pipes with his father Richard Pipes, a historian of Russia and American cold warrior. It almost makes one feel for Jr.


Suetonius - 5/7/2003

a tip o' the hat to Mr. Cohen for refraining from ad hominems and for presenting a good solid post in response to my query.


Suetonius - 5/7/2003

Your original point from your first paragraph of your first post was that Hussein's government may well have been a better platform from which to launch democracy.

Reasons for going to war or support for mad mullahs is not the issue. My argument is simply that you were incorrect in concluding that it would have been better to launch democracy via reform of Hussein's Ba'athist Iraq, for the cost in human lives during the interim would be intolerable.


Josh Greenland - 5/7/2003

"I knew Pipes was bad, but that close-reading showed more errors than I would have imagined."

It surprised me, too. I didn't realize how bad it was until I'd finished going through it sentence by sentence. He's glib enough to distract one from the majority of his falsehoods, at least during the first quick reading.

"It does seem like the Presidential appointment has gotten Pipes even more frothed up than usual. The Democrats are threatening to block his appointment. It makes me wish that I had C-Span."

What is Bush trying to appoint him to?


Wilson - 5/7/2003



I knew Pipes was bad, but that close-reading showed more errors than I would have imagined.

It does seem like the Presidential appointment has gotten Pipes even more frothed up than usual. The Democrats are threatening to block his appointment. It makes me wish that I had C-Span.
The way I see it it's a win-win situation though. If the appointment goes through, he'll presumably have to cease the governess-like scoldings which he has, inexcplicably, adopted as a rhetorical style. If the appointment is defeated, well.... schadenfreude.

One ought to appreciate the theatrical absurdity. If a satirist had invented Daniel Pipes, she would be rightly be accused of laying it on too thick.


Oliver - 5/7/2003



If you are not going to "quibble", Mr. “Suetonious”, at least quote accurately. I did not say Pipes WAS a fascist, I said he was “becoming more straightforwardly fascist”. In other words, his crypto fascist TENDENCIES are more prominent and more developed in this article from the New York Post (a notorious gutter rag, incidentally).

Scholars of fascism such as Lacquer, Millward, Saurer, Linz, etc., identified a number of common elements within this disparate phenomenon, including fear, hatred, fanaticism, and opportunism. In the 1930s it was fear of communism, hatred of Jews, traditional capitalists, etc., fanatical ideas about race and a new martial millennial society, and there was abundant opportunism in the willingness to encompass tremendous hypocrisy if it served short term pragmatic goals (e.g. the Hitler-Stalin pact).

All of these characteristics are staples of Pipe’s methods. Nearly all of his 15 or 20 articles on HNN have featured bigoted fear and hatred of Moslems (here again you see it: “Islam in effect means "Yes to Iranian-style militant Islam." "), other recent targets include intellectuals and academics (sour grapes, perhaps). Rarely is Pipes in FAVOR of anything, his emphasis is stir up fear and loathing AGAINST something - another typically fascist predilection.

In this particular piece, hypocritical opportunism is particularly apparent in the goal to “bring about democracy” without letting the majority take over. It is of course true that democracy requires deep-seated “attitudes” which can develop gradually over decades. In his typically fascist-like deception, Pipes totally ignores how the U.S. government policies for many decades have repressed democracy and supported authoritarian regimes, particularly in the Mideast. To say that America should appoint yet another “strongman” who, instead of “insuring stability” will, this time help Iraq “inch towards full freedom”, basically replaces small traditional fibs with a new Big Lie.

I frankly don’t think Pipes has the cajones to be a full-fledged fascist, his aspirations are probably more towards Goebbels (or Joe McCarthy) than to a Mussolini or a Hitler. That doesn’t necessarily make him harmless. His propagandistic use of history might qualify him as some kind of pseudo-ideologue: it has little or nothing to do with real historical analysis.









Jerry West - 5/7/2003


Suetonius wrote:

It is hardly disputed that between the lack of food and medical care in Ba'athist Iraq (with ample stocks of food and medical supplies discovered later in the warehouses) and the routine executions, thousands more Iraqis perished annually under the Ba'athist regime than died (a) in this brief war, or (b) will likely perish in the months to come.

JW:

The numbers who died before may not be in dispute, but those likely to perish is an unknown amount that could go either way depending on what happens in the future. It would be interesting to see a graph of killings in Iraq over the years, and how the numbers corollate to various internal and external events. However, discussion of lives saved is not relevant to the discussion of whether or not this war was justified, as Saddam's domestic activities were not the reason for going to war. Any claim to this reason by the US government is merely an hypocritical act of propaganda.

It would nice if the US was a nation concerned with human rights and based its policies on the protection and expansion of said rights, but in fact the US is just as willing to violate these rights as the next tyrant when it suits their purpose.

Suetonius:

By any stretch of the imagination, and whatever ones politics, in simple numbers of bodies the Iraqi people are better off now than they were under Hussein.

JW:

I won't dispute that at this point, though it could change. But, the issue still remains, was this the best way to remove him? Again, though, the wellbeing of the Iraqi people is not a factor in the sequence of events that lead us to where we are, it is merely convenient window dressing. History has proven that the US is just as likely to create and support tyrants as oppose them.

Suetonius:

Those Iraqis and Kurds who fled the country nearly universally said it was not possible to wait out Hussein and hope for the best by bringing pressure on him or his regime to change.

JW:

And one wonders what their motives were/are?

Suetonius:

With reference to the theocracy as I cited it in my post and as most people understand the discussion with regard to the future of Iraq, it is the religious rule of Iran, not the extreme fundamentalist regime of the Taliban, that is the model. For the record, the Shi'ite clerics of Iran detested the Taliban and its brand of religious interpretation.

JW:

And do they support the equality of women, and oppose cruel punishments such as the severing of limbs, execution and what not, and do they allow for religious freedom and freedom of the press and of speech, including the right to criticize religious teachings? Comparing the Taliban to other clerics who would impose religious principles on anyone against their will is merely camparing different degrees of rot.

Any how, all of this misses the original point that Daniel Pipes was concerned about the rise of militant Islam in Iraq and I pointed out that this war may facilitate that. I also said that the mullahs might be a better alternative to a US strongman, as Pipes was dreaming about (as much as I dislike them), and for the US and the world it would be better if the US paid the bills and turned the whole mess over to countries not tainted by the war to sort out and help the Iraqis rebuild.

The war has given more power to the mullahs, a more subtle approach might have avoided that, regardless of the bodycount either way. Continued US military presence in the Mideast will only make the mullahs' case stronger.


Suetonius - 5/6/2003

For the sake of historical inquiry, what particularly about what Pipes has said makes him a "fascist".

I'm not quibbling with your statement, I'm genuinely curious. Why is it that "fascist" is the term of choice? Is it stemming from a belief, however silly, that he is a "Nazi" but without using that precise term? [the "Sieg Heil" is indicative] Is it because he espouses a particular economic and political philosphy that really does harken back to Mussolini? Or is it the idea that he represents something akin to "totalitarian" or "dictator" in the more centralized political control with associated ideas of eliminating harshly any and all critics? If its the latter, then "facist" isn't really all that applicable when Nazi will do...but Nazi isn't all that precise either, since it entails certain ideas about minorities such as Jews. There are more precise words...can't we find them?

Or is it all about throwing around ill-chosen words without truly understanding what they really mean in hopes of gathering to one side or another those who do not yet understand which side to chose and without having to explain to them rationally what really is going on...which might, just possibly, be what the Nazis were very expert at doing?


Suetonius - 5/6/2003

Mr. West,

It is hardly disputed that between the lack of food and medical care in Ba'athist Iraq (with ample stocks of food and medical supplies discovered later in the warehouses) and the routine executions, thousands more Iraqis perished annually under the Ba'athist regime than died (a) in this brief war, or (b) will likely perish in the months to come. By any stretch of the imagination, and whatever ones politics, in simple numbers of bodies the Iraqi people are better off now than they were under Hussein. How that came to pass is not the issue: that they are _less_ likely to die now than then is indisputable. Those Iraqis and Kurds who fled the country nearly universally said it was not possible to wait out Hussein and hope for the best by bringing pressure on him or his regime to change.

With reference to the theocracy as I cited it in my post and as most people understand the discussion with regard to the future of Iraq, it is the religious rule of Iran, not the extreme fundamentalist regime of the Taliban, that is the model. For the record, the Shi'ite clerics of Iran detested the Taliban and its brand of religious interpretation.


Josh Greenland - 5/6/2003

"Gratitude for liberation usually has a short shelf life, and Iraq will be no exception."

To hear Pipes tell it, that's just the way it is and always will be, so the military and the administration doesn't have to take any responsibility for destroying the civilian economy, the water system and law enforcement, and keeping out UN aid organizations. Gee, wonder why the Iraqis have gone so quickly from being happy we got rid of Saddam to hating our military presence?
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/05/04/1051987604147.html

"However delighted they are to be rid of the Saddamite nightmare, Iraqis mentally live in a world of conspiracy theories, causing many to harbor deep suspicions of coalition intentions."

Ah yes, Iraqis are just culturally inferior people who live in a group psychopathology of "conspiracy theories," so they're irrational and their suspicions of coalition intentions are therefore groundless. I guess their opinions don't mean anything so we can ignore anything they say.

""Yes to Islam" in effect means "Yes to Iranian-style militant Islam."" Actually it doesn't. Only a minority of Iraqi Shia Moslems want an Iran-style theocracy. The majority of Shia Moslems don't. Some Shias have said that while they want an "Islamic state," the clerics and politicians don't have to be the same people. Then there are the approximately 30% of Iraqis who are Sunni Moslems. I seriously doubt they want Khomeini-style Shia theocracy! Interesting how quickly Pipes spews out his false equation of "Islam" and Iranian theocracy.
Perhaps to justify some future action against Iran?

"If coalition forces leave Iraq precipitously, anarchy and extremism would result." What is this clown talking about? The Iraqis are already dealing with civil anarchy with US forces there. And the US presence seems to be bringing out "extremist" sentiment.

"Hold elections too fast, the Khomeini-like mullahs will probably win." Probably BS, as they and their congregations are a minority.

"Building a full democracy (meaning, regularly voting the head of government out of office) takes time.... The United States needed over a century." Where did Pipes learn history? The United States came into being in the late 1700s and we were electing Presidents and Congress much sooner than 100 years after that.

"it still takes twenty or more years to reach full democracy. That was the timetable in countries as varied as South Korea, Chile, Poland and Turkey." Gee, didn't one South Korean president succeed another in the 1990s by SHOOTING him? That may be Pipes' idea of democracy, but it's not mine. As Jon Dresdener noted, Chile was a democracy until our CIA overthrew it. The way the Kurds, a large minority, are treated in Turkey, I find it hard to accept that country is a democracy.

"...a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman. This may sound like a contradiction, but it has happened elsewhere, for example by Atatürk in Turkey and Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan."

Gee, wasn't it under Ataturk that the Armenian genocide happened?

"Democracy is a learned habit, not instinct."

Then who did we originally learn it from?

"The infrastructure of a civil society - such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, the rule of law, minority rights and an independent judiciary - needs to be established before holding elections."

This is pathetic nonsense. Hunter-gather societies function democratically, including most Native American societies in the territory that became the United States. Voting is very common in them. They don't have some of the prerequisites he mentioned, or the rest didn't need to be established because they are already part of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, which I thought was the original human social organization.

"Deep attitudinal changes must take place as well: a culture of restraint, a commonality of values, a respect for differences of view and a sense of civic responsibility."

Again, Pipes is telling us the crazy Iraqis are culturally inferior and that's why a benevolent dictator will have to beat the right cultural traits into them before they can be trusted the vote the right way (not for the evil Khomeinites, who the dimwitted Iraqis are too unsophisticated from 30 years in "the dungeon" to resist).

"As for the coalition forces, after installing a strongman they should phase out their visible role and pull back to a few military bases away from population centers. From these, they can quietly serve as the military partner of the new government, guaranteeing its ultimate security and serving as a constructive influence for the entire region."

After all the bizarre false statements, here we are at the meat of it. The US isn't going to leave. US forces are to lurk "quietly" at bases away from population centers, existing as a "military partner of the new government, guaranteeing its ultimate security" by popping out of the bases when the regime tries to do something the US doesn't like, or when it doesn't do a sufficiently good job of handling domestic elements that the US doesn't like. (Actually the administration is already developing resources to deal with uncompliant Iraqi citizens:
http://www.itar-tass.com/different/oper_lenta/english/iraq/294104.html
)

This article is so factually flawed, it's hard to believe. It suggests that Dan Pipes must have incredible contempt for his audience. Or that the man really is an idiot. Am I to understand that he has influence on our foreign conduct?


Oliver Cohen - 5/6/2003


HNN favorite Coward Pipes is becoming more straightforwardly fascist these days. It turns out we do not torpedo NATO, sabotage the UN, shred the Bill of Rights, and put our military at the service of Ariel Sharon in order to rid Iraq of anthrax or bring democracy to it, but rather to replace one strongman there with another. I feel sorry for the Americans who had to die for this abominable Pipes dream.




Jerry West - 5/5/2003


Suetonious wrote (from the dead?):

Am I to understand that Hussein's regime, as we in the West have now come to understand its full horrors, with its children's prisons, Iron Maidens and underground torture cells, might have been preferable to what will now emerge, through democracy or the establishment of an Iranian-style theocracy, under the full glare of the international media?

JW:

Gee, Hussein's regime sounds like some others the US has established over the years and given considerable support to. But that is not the point. In fact all of Saddam's domestic transgression were not the point for the US invasion of Iraq, either. Had he been the epitome of sweetness and light on the domestic scene he would have still suffered the invasion. All of the blather about human rights and Saddam's tyranny being put forward now to justify the conquest of Iraq is nothing but pure hypocrisy.

My point is that continuing to work towards changing Saddam's regime internally rather than thru overt military aggression would have been a better approach to for maintaining stability and what progressive reforms (read secularization and the improved status of women) that the Baathists had achieved. Very few will dispute the bad aspects of that regime, but not everything was bad. What we will get now that the whole cart is upturned is a crap shoot.

It is apparent from the reactions of the Iraqis to the increased pressure for weapons inspectors put on them by the UN the past year, we were pushing them back step at a time. That process should have continued.

Some would argue that we saved lives by going to war, I wonder if they balance that with the number dead in this war, and the possibly tens of thousands more over the years who may be victim of Depleted Uranium poisoning. And if the Fundamentalists get control, the numbers that they will torture and kill in the implementation of the Sharia.

For those who think that the Fundamentalists are better than Saddam, perhaps they would like to tell us about the virtues of the Taliban. It would be ironic for the US to have spent a fortune conquering Afghanistan to rid it of fundamentalists, just to open the door to a fundamentalist regime in Iraq.


Jonathan Dresner - 5/5/2003

Jiang Jieshi (Sorry, that's the way Chinese and Asian scholars write Chiang Kai-shek now.) was "democratically minded?" No argument about the "strongman" but it wasn't until well into the reign of Jiang's son, over three decades after the founding of Nationalist Taiwan, that there were real moves towards democracy on that island, and political persecution, including outright massacres of non-Nationalist Taiwanese, was an accepted tool of state. South Korea's development was equally slow and painful, involving brutal repression by autocrats and military dictatorships.

Yes, both of those societies are now functioning democracies. But just because they went through that process does not mean that they *had* to go through that process. In fact, these autocratic states were suppressing pro-democracy movements, not radical religious crusades or revolutionary anarchists. That's not an acceptable model.


Jeffery Thomas - 5/5/2003

Pow! Wham!

Zowie, Dr Pipes, you tell it like it ought to be. S'pose ol' Rummy'll follow through, though? And you can forget about ol' Colin. He's got ideas, you know, of his own. If only, if only they'd leave it to the experts...

Maybe you have a nice Jewish man in mind for the job? Ol' Benyamin is getting himself in trouble over this austerity plan, and might need to find other work here pretty soon. He's strong. Hell, strong as a bull. Strong in a sort of democratic way, too, just like you said he needs to be for the job in Iraq. Yep, a sort of democratic, sort of Iraqi-type... Semitic? They say that the ancient city-states of Sumeria practiced democratic institutions, and that's where Abraham, father of Jews and Arabs originated... What do you think? Benyamin Netanyahu for Iraqi Strongman.

This is just as serious as Pipes ridiculous musings on what's good for a country he despises, but whose best interests, miraculously, he has at heart. Oh, the compromises the weak of the world must make with the mighty just to survive, and, even then, they might not. Oh, the fear the weak inspire in the strong, the poor in the rich, the illiterate in the scholarly. "The Iraqis will choose the type of government they want... except for this or that or the other, hah! Gotcha!"
The Bush Administration Joke Machine, Fratus-Jockus-Funnus


Suetonius - 5/5/2003

Mr. West suggests that "Daniel Pipes is concerned about the rise of radical Islam in Iraq. Perhaps that concern should have been given more weight prior to the US/UK misadventure there that took the cap off of the pressure cooker. Our boy Saddam may have been a nasty number, but at least he was secular and provided a better platform to build a progressive, democratic society from than anything that the Mullahs or even Jay Garner may construct."

Am I to understand that Hussein's regime, as we in the West have now come to understand its full horrors, with its children's prisons, Iron Maidens and underground torture cells, might have been preferable to what will now emerge, through democracy or the establishment of an Iranian-style theocracy, under the full glare of the international media?


Jerry West - 5/5/2003


Daniel Pipes is concerned about the rise of radical Islam in Iraq. Perhaps that concern should have been given more weight prior to the US/UK misadventure there that took the cap off of the pressure cooker. Our boy Saddam may have been a nasty number, but at least he was secular and provided a better platform to build a progressive, democratic society from than anything that the Mullahs or even Jay Garner may construct.

I find it interesting that Mr. Pipes cites Chile as a case where it took 20 years for democracy to be established. I wonder what his time frame is? As I recall, Chile had a functioning democracy until the US subverted it and brought in Pinochet's reign of terror. Is Pinochet the time of strongman that Pipes is suggesting that we install in Iraq? It would not be out of character if it did.

The best thing that could happen now for Iraq would be for the US to apoligize to the world for acting out of bounds, to put up the funds required to repair the damage, and to step aside and allow the countries who are not tainted by this war to step in and provide whatever assistance the Iraqis require to get their country up and running again, even if it means a time for the Mullahs.

The list of brutal strongmen that the US has created and/or supported in the last century is legion. From Franco to Chang to Pinochet and even Saddam, the results have not been impressive, at least from the standpoint of a progressive and democratic society. To think that one more kick at the can might produce better results is certainly a Pipes dream.




mark safranski - 5/5/2003

I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Pipes ' scholarly knowledge and skillful activism, most of which I am in general agreement. However this business about a " democratically-minded strongman " for Iraq is a sheer waste of time. Ahmed Chalabi is not as ruthless as Augusto Pinochet nor as heroic as Boris Yeltsin and even if he were, why would we bother following that model of leadership for Iraq ?

America's implacable critics inside Iraq and out are not going to be mollified into abandoning cries of " imperialism " by installing a new dictator, however enlightened and media savvy his enlightened despotism. Any crime he commited would be charged to our account, any benefits he engineered would not save him from the charge of being our puppet. This suggestion has all the makings of an attempt to try and soothe awkward feelings in State and the Pentagon on the topic of direct American military rule of Iraq. The fig leaf of a " democratically-minded strongmen" in no way makes the burden of democritization of Iraq easier while drastically increasing the likelihood of ultimate failure.

We are there. Everyone knows America is there and why. Let's get to the business of letting the Iraqis form a government of their own devising within the liberal democratic- capitalist parameters we set for a constituent assembly. Make no bones about the fact that Iraqis accepting democratic norms as the key to our departure, give time and encouragement to civil society to form counterweights to thr religious parties and be happy if the Iraqis can manage a government no less chaotic than say that of Italy. If we accomplish this feat that alone would prove to be a marked improvement on almost every standard of governance prevailing in the Arab-Islamic world.

I would like to think the average Iraqi, with the advantage of American assistance, should be able to handle transitioning to democracy at least as smoothly as the average Russian did.

http://www.zenpundit.blogspot.com

History News Network