Blogs > Cliopatria > Two Images, Two Visions.

Nov 4, 2004 8:20 am

Two Images, Two Visions.

Writing from Jordan, two competing images jostled for ascendancy this week. The first was that of the funeral for Shaykh Zayed, the first ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The throngs that went out on the streets to weep openly at the sight of his funeral casket passing by were not only citizens of the UAE, they were people from many different nationalities and backgrounds. I am reminded that in one of the many opinion polls published on Iraqi citizens' new found awareness a couple of months ago, the state model that most everyone preferred was that of the UAE's. This left most Arab cosmopolitans gasping: what, Iraqis want to be ruled by oil-rich bedouin oligrarchs who've been married about seventeen times and still dispense largesse out of a box stuffed under their mattress? How wrong they were, and are. That misrepresentation of Shaykh Zayed's experiment in nation-building is so patronizing and so insulting as to be totally worthless: what he did for his citizens, and what Iraqis correspondingly yearn for, is his vision of a human security based on investment for this, and future generations. Shaykh Zayed's largesse was not only spent on weapons (and he bought enough of those to replenish several armies) but on his citizens' welfare as well: he built roads, hospitals, schools and established the whole paraphenalia of human security so often touted as a dream by global agencies. And I don't care if he had a "medieval" mentality, was overly pious or was too pro-American.

The other image is that of a chortling Bush celebrating his resounding defeat of Kerry. So this is the famous democracy you've all been touting? A democracy that re-elects mass murderers and religious bigots? Give me Shaykh Zayed's patrimonial, family-based, tribal-sourced system any day. At least I can live the rest of my days in peace.
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Oscar Chamberlain - 11/4/2004

For the immediate impact of this election on Iraq I am truly sorry. Unless someone in the White House has learned something and just doesn't want to admit it, war without victory (however defined) seems to be the future.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/4/2004

Well, one way or another, the Iraqis are going to be ruled by oil-rich oligarchs, right? They may as well be responsible and generous ones with local ties, instead of the previous dictator or the faceless corporations that are coming....

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