mr. zilla goes to town

Monday, September 22, 2003

Iraqi Hokey Pokey

They put your army in,
You want your army out,
You sing "Iraqi hokey pokey"
So they'll vote Bush out...

This Salon article comes pretty close to approximating how I feel about the left over here at the moment. I think its vital that our leaders (George WB and John WH) are held accountable for the lies and misinformation used to push us into the war. That shit is unacceptable in what are supposed to be exemplary democracies. BUT... Since the "war" ended and the "peace" in Iraq began, I've been more and more turned off by the lefty coalitions and umbrella groups, because their primary focus is a call to immediately pull the US troops out of Iraq. Sorry guys. You were right; we shouldn't have been there, particularly on the pretexts that were given. I went to rallies and marches in Canberra and DC on that score. But the mess is made, and the US can't go and break into little pieces the institutional fabric of a country without staying around to put something back together. The AEI has an interesting perspective on internationalisation versus Iraqification on this score. One would hope a post-2004 democratic administration might handle the matter less belligerently (and without the overt no-bid Halliburton-style corruption) but I don't see removing all US troops and letting the chips fall as a conscionable act.

Nor is a half-baked democratic rebuild a guarantee against further terror within and beyond Iraq. Some current reading (Origins of Terrorism) has a couple of chapters about extremists and terrorists within (Western) democracies. Notably relevant is a discussion of Germany's 70's era Red Army Faction, who were ideologically driven by West Germany's continuities with Nazi Germany:
... the victorious Allies tolerated-- in fact, they promoted-- the new rise to wealth and power of 90 percent of those most responsible for what was done. Even twenty years after Hilter's defeat, 75 percent of all West German judges were men who had been Nazi party members and who had brutally carried out Nazi law... In industry and business the situation was truly abysmal. As a result of the Marshall Plan, thousands of the very men who had driven millions to death under Hitler were given back their wealth, comfort and the prestige of their Mercedes cars and villas...

At the same time, these beneficiaries both of the Hitler regime and of the largess offered by the Allies created a climate in which only physical reconstruction was permitted. Political ideologies that might be called social or progressive were given no room to express themselves. (p46)
I hope that Paul Bremer and his superiors keep this in mind, if their goal really is to create a liberated, stable and swamp-drained Iraq. I guess people on the right would say: well you don't see any German terrorists on blowing the place up today do you? I wonder if they are prepared to base US troops in a much more hostile post-war Iraq (via JB) for the next 50 years?

However in terms of the numbers of troops being killed... about 1 per day, with total "post-war" casualties now over 1000 (killed and injured). I went to a Chechnya film festival last week at Visions and saw four docos about Chechnya where somewhere around average of 150 Russian soldiers have been killed per week since that conflict started. (let alone the uncounted Chechen death toll probably 5 or 10 times that?). Of course any death is a tragedy but how about some perspective. Perhaps the persisting interest in the death toll is a sign of the beginning of the end of the domestic 9/11 honeymoon. I'm not so sure that's a good thing when it leads to Somalia-like debacles (now that was a real hokey pokey) and calculated disinterest in the face of staggering genocide (Rwanda) or hamstrung strategy (like over Serbia no lower than 15000 feet... meaning attacks on civilian infrastructure). It will also result in more of what this article (thanks Gra) refers to - corporatisation of US involvement Iraqi security which places it several steps further removed from already weak public oversight and accountability.

The salon article makes the salient point that the left identify the Iraq war so closely with bush they are not prepared to countenance constructive engagement with today's situation in case it should weaken their ability to attack the Bush administration. "Now I understand how conservatives felt under Clinton" was a comment I heard on the weekend. There is a visceral red-rag hatred of Bush that is strengthening the campaign of people like Howard Dean who are staking out the left rather than the centre at this stage of the Democratic campaign. However I think it prevents some in that camp from a more soundly constructive appraisal of where to go to from here. Their attempt to steer the US out of the neo-conservatives' bellicose empire/hegemony-building may push the US towards dainty isolationism.


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