Bush's Mid-East Fantasy

Tonight, GWB will present one of his many reasons to go to war with Iraq. And I believe that this is the real
reason why GWB is itching for war with Iraq. It seems that by attacking Iraq, this would lead not only to
the democratization of the Middle East but also resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without pressuring
Israel to do anything.

This belief is based on a fantasy (as Time’s Joe Klein called it) that the right-wing in the US and Israel have
been having for a while:

“How Israel is Wrapped Up In Iraq”:
[URL=http://www.time.com/time/columnist/klein/article/0,9565,419688,00.html]

My favorite part is when the Jordanian monarchy collapses and the Palestians are forced to live on the East
Back so the Israelis can establish a greater Israel. And then Jesus comes back! Oh wait…that’s another
fantasy. Sorry.

“Israel Sees War With Iraq As Path to Middle East Peace”:
[URL=http://www.time.com/time/columnist/klein/article/0,9565,419688,00.html]
OK, so before my family gets vaporized for this Christian Right/neocon/Likkudnik wet dream, please explain to me:

  1. How is this fantasy supposed to be realized given that no one in the Arab world gives a shit about
    Saddam and that pro-Palestinian sentiment exists and flourishes even in democracies?

  2. Unless GWB has some insta-Democracy fairy dust, how is a war with Iraq more effective than say, putting
    pressure on both Sharon and Arafat in the here and now?

  3. Do you think that this fantasy will be realized? Why or why not?

  4. Mr. Kline states that the war in Iraq will either result in the realization of this fantasy or more terrorism.
    It seems that his opinion is that this war will only increase terrorism. Where would you place your bets?

And finally,

  1. Does this fantasy smack of anti-Arab sentiment to you?

Pretty close prediction. It turned out to be accurate, except that Bush specifically mentioned the need for Israel to give up the settlements.

Joe Klein is a very clever fellow. Still, I was amused by his comment, “The maddening thing is, the outlines of a Middle East peace are obvious.” Since the best minds in the world have been unsuccessfully seeking middle east peace for over 50 years, I’d say the solution is not obvious.

Bush’s “Christian Right/neocon/Likkudnik wet dream” is indeed quite optimistic. Still, don’t forget that Arabs living in totalitarian countries will want democracy. If they see a successful democracy in Iraq, that will encourage them to press for democracy in their country.

Peace will never come while Arafat rules the Palestinians. Putting pressure on Arafat is a waste of time and energy.

Let’s be clear. There are at least two fantasies. One is peace between Israel and the Arabs. The other is widespread democracy in the middle east. I think the latter will be realized in part, very gradually. I think Iraq may well become a democracy. If it does, I think democratic trends will take place in at least some of the middle eastern countries. However, I am more pessimistic about a good resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Things will either get better, get worse,or stay the same. That seems like a safe prediction. :slight_smile:

I definitely think war with Iraq will reduce terrorism. First of all, the new Iraqi government will stop financially rewarding the families of suicide bombers. Secondly, other middle eastern countries may be more reticent to provide financial support to terrorist organizations. Maybe the EU and the UN will reduce their support for terrorists, by paying more attention to what their donated money is used for. Finally, the terrorists themselves may be deterred by fear of further US attack. Also, the US deserves to get some brownie points for liberating the Iraqi people. They will be much better off without Saddam.

The exact opposite. Bush’s plan pays Arabs the compliment of assuming that they are worthy of democracy and capable of democracy.

If anyone comes across as anti-Arab, it’s Bush’s opponents. Some of them seem not to care when Arabs live under horrendous tyranny, where they can be routinely killed or tortured by the government. Some of Bush’s opponents seem to believe that Arabs are incapable of operating a democratic government.

A recent article in The Economist also supports the theory that the overthrow of Sadaam may lead to Domino Effect of greater democratization in the ME. Unfortuneately, the US will probably not receive much of the credit.

Just curious: do you really think suicide bombers do what they do for the money their families may or may not receive after they’re dead? Do you seriously think money is even a tangential motivating factor to someone with that kind of mindset?

I’m too fried right now to address the rest of your post in any sort of vaguely cohesive way, but that bit just jumped out at me. The rest may come tomorrow, after much caffeine.

Here’s a quote from Marketplace, a public radio show.

I can only guess at the mindset of a potential suicide bomber. But $25,000 is a fortune for many of these families. ISTM that the knowledge that his family will be made rich might help convince a potential suicide bomber who was on the fence.

Looking at the other side of the coin, I have read that the Israel’s program of destroying the suicide bomber’s home has been effective. So, it seems that some potential bombers are deterred by concern for their family’s welfare. Or, perhaps, families may have some degree of control over whether one member of the family becomes a suicide bomber. Either way, a $25,000 reward to the family sounds like some degree of incitement.

I agree that cutting the financial compensation line might be a necessary step to reduce terrorism. And that forcing Sadaam out might be what is needed to cut that pipeline. But it has to be coupled with positive alternatives for the affected youth. Also, it has to be done without inadvertently increasing the numbers and groups of willing suicide soldiers.

First off, is the US going to instill free and democratic institutions that can elect whatever they want … or stack the deck so that only constructs acceptable to US administration mindsets have a chance? Be real. The message that the US is sending is that she likes democratic institutions as long as they do what the US wants them to do: the UN is great if it does what the US thinks she should but irrelevant if she does not, and so on. This imperialistic mindset will not play well, I fear.

The Saudis are suddenly going to become a democratic republic because a US puppet democracy is installed in Iraq? Or will they, and other oppressive Arab regiemes have even more cause to keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict roiling in order to keep the Arab-on-the-street’s attention distracted from how (s)he is oppressed.

No, Israel-Palestine will not be solved by eliminating Saddam, nor would solving the former prevent anti-Americanism in the Arab world. But solving the Israel-Palestinine conflict with the creation of a successful, peaceful, democratic autonomous entity (whether or not it is a state) for those who currently self-identify as Palestinian … would have a domino effect, a slow and subtle one perhaps, but inexorable nevertheless, on developing democratic and educational institutions throughout the region.

Let’s look at the real plans, as announced in some detail, as opposed to Bush’s platitudes. The plan is to leave the Baath bureaucracy and officials in place, with a few Army officers replacing a few symbolic war-crimes defendants chosen for the sake of appearances. After the minimum time possible, even they’ll be pulled out.

And somehow, in Bush’s fantasy, democracy will flourish anyway, as the Iraqi citizens are inspired by the GIs’ donations of chocolate bars and nylons to the frauleins. Without Saddam’s subsidies to families of Palestinians, Israel will be at peace (never mind that most of that money comes from the Saudis, who are our allegedly our allies).

Such is the moral basis, and projections for success, of the war we are now being asked to believe in. As Bush’s character was asked re Iraq on a recent South Park episode, “Mr. President, are you high or just incredibly stupid?”

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Well, let’s look at the evidence. We’ve got lots of friends and allies in the Middle East; how is our work for democracy progressing there? How far along is democracy in Egypt? Jordan? Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Pakistan?

There’s one Islamic state we’re already involved in rebuilding. How are things progressing in Afghanistan? This piece says that Afghanistan is headed back towards being almost as repressive as under the Taliban, unless we intervene.

And we freed Kuwait - at least from Iraq - twelve years ago this spring. But as this piece says:

This isn’t to say meaningful democracy with human rights protections is impossible in a largely Muslim state. But what it does say is that we’ve got no track record in bringing that about, in any way, shape, or form. There’s no basis whatever for the Bush pipe-dream that we can make democracy happen in Iraq.

The Bush Administration isn’t promoting democracy, so much as it is using it as a weapon to be inflicted on its enemies. The only Islamic states that we put pressure on to become democratic are places like Iraq and the Palestinian state. (And in the case of Palestine, they’d better not democratically vote for Arafat, oh no! We like democracy, but there are limits. No Mossadegh, no Allende, no Arafat.)

IOW, the Bushies are less than sincere in their devotion to democracy, just like they are insincere in their horror of the way Saddam treats his own people. Both are there to be added to the list of justifications of what they want to do anyway, rather than being part of an overall philosophy on where and how America should use its power and influence in the world. I see nothing to suggest that they are interested in either democracy or human rights per se.

What are you guys actually FOR? The “it won’t work, can’t happen, why bother” worldview isn’t very inspiring. I hope you don’t live your personal lives by that risk-averse philosphy.

The citizens of a country get the government they deserve; it’s true that we cannot impose democracy on a group that does not want it. The best we can do is encourage its development through military protection and foreign aid. It’s a commitment, and costs money, but it’s a noble and worthwhile endeavor.

“Let me tell you what else I’m worried about: I’m worried about an opponent who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence. See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.”

-George Bush on November 6, 2000 in Chattanooga, TN. Suffice it to say that George Bush is now finding out that talking about governing, and actually governing, are two entirely different things.

CC, it’s not clear which “side” you’re addressing. If you’re promoting nation-building, or more properly region-building, then you’re not facing as much disagreement as you might think. Great things can be accomplished with commitment and skill, certainly - but there’s a great deal of confidence lacking that either the commitment or the skill are present in this administration, and without those, the effects can only be worse than the status quo.

If you’re asking what the anti-war “side” is “FOR”, you’ll get as many different answers as answerers. For myself, I would prefer to see a return to the successful (yes) policies of containment of and engagement with dangerous regimes, including carrots as well as sticks, that existed prior to noon on 1/20/00. Well, maybe more carrot and less stick, maybe. but that’s mostly case-dependent.

Places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt are barely allies, and hardly friends. We tolerate them because we need to have moderately cordial relations with someone in the area. If the Iraq plan works out, I fully expect us to tell SA to bugger off. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to foster relations with the newly democratic Iraq and Turkey.

One thing we may need in Iraq, though, is an Iraqi Ataturk - someone who the Iraqis can relate to, who is not seen as a lackey of the western world, but as an Arab first and foremost. Someone who can preach modernization and democracy without the perceived “evils” of westernization. The Iraqis will need someone they can rally around and look up to. Ahmed Chalabi may be that person, or he may not, but he’s the best candidate I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, he may not be terribly interested in the role. We’ll see.
Jeff

I think the policy of containment and engagement is still in effect in all cases but Iraq. Iraq is a special case, as the 1991 and the cease fire agreement gives us the pretext to take an accelerated hands-on approach, to the mutual benefit of U.S. interests and the people of Iraq.

And leave all that lovely oil behind? All those carefully-tended Big Oil / House of Saud business relationships? I doubt it.

I can agree with that. But who’s left, after 20-odd years of Saddam eliminating anyone with leadership skill and any scent of not incomplete loyalty to him? The characteristics needed may not exist in anyone anymore.

“Still” in effect doesn’t apply to North Korea. Engagement was abandoned for a while, and the result is nuclear proliferation. It’s not established that Bush has learned from the lesson.

Containment I’ll agree with up to the point where it gets mistaken with simple neglect, but not engagement - how engaged has Bush been in reducing the threat to the world from anyone else? All we have is thuggish, terror-supporting regimes in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia declared to be frickin’ allies now, and others ignored entirely if they don’t have anything we need.

I think that bush has finally found his smoking gun. Really I can’t believe people still have any confidence in this elected clown. He used every argument in his pocket in order to attack Irak, not one proved decisive so now it seems he is starting to pull them from his ass. Do you know why I think that?

Because his newest arguments for war stink :slight_smile:

Actually, Elvis, given Bush’s ham-handed “engagement” with NK over the past year, maybe non-engagement is a better policy. NK has been a real failure. The whole region is destabilized for no reason other than the need to find a non-Islamic candidate for the last “axis of evil” slot and because Bush couldn’t contain his “loathing” for the Dear Leader.

As for SA, I agree with the analyses I’ve seen that say that a friendly Iraq will give us more leverage vs SA, since currently only SA can guarantee oil price stability. Full production Iraq could also guarantee price stability.

Last time I looked, Egypt was one of the few countries to receive serious amounts of foreign aid money from us. If they’re not our friend, we’re sure theirs. And a nation (such as Saudi Arabia) that allows us to base troops on their soil for many years has to, in some sense, qualify as an ally.

So you are positing a postwar puppet government in Iraq which will do America’s bidding.

That certainly supports my point about the unlikelihood of our bringing democracy to Iraq.