Tuesday, July 19, 2005



Means subverting ends

The American invasion of Iraq is going to go down in history as a perfect example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, of the way means subvert ends and the logic and necessities of military action destroy and undermine everything that that action is supposed to achieve. A war to save Iraqis resulted in US soldiers gunning them down at random because they saw every "Hajji" as a threat. A war to end Saddam's reign of terror resulted in the occupying power publicly considering the use of death squads to keep the civilian population in line. And a war to end torture has simply changed its victims; now it is Sunnis, rather than Shi'ites and Kurds, who are being hung from hooks in the ceiling in dark rooms, screaming in agony as the very same Mukhbarat thugs, thoughtfully rehired by the CPA to help keep order, beat them, electrocute them, and drill holes in their limbs with power-tools.

And now, there's something new to add to the list: having ostensibly waged a war for democracy, the US tried to fix the Iraqi elections. When democracy-promoting NGOs refused to cooperate,

the White House promulgated a highly classified Presidential "finding" authorizing the C.I.A. to provide money and other support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the Administration’s view, were seeking to spread democracy. "The finding was general," a recently retired high-level C.I.A. official told me. "But there’s no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way. The process is under the control of the C.I.A. and the Defense Department."

What this translated to was financial support for former Prime Minister Allawi's party, plus a bit of ballot-box stuffing, to make sure the "wrong people" didn't win - all kept "off the books", using money that wasn't appropriated by Congress, in an effort to avoid oversight. It didn't work - mainly because the Iraqis weren't above such tactics themselves - but the fact remains that the Americans tried. And in the attempt, they corrupted the one genuinely good thing which could have been salvaged from the whole bloody mess. No matter what you thought of the war, I think everyone would have to acknowledge that Iraq's steps towards an Iraqi democracy were something positive. Maybe not worth the deaths required to achieve it, but something positive all the same. But now, the US has corrupted even that. Rather than dying for democracy, it turns out that 25,000 Iraqi civilians, an unknown number of Iraqi soldiers, and almost 2000 coalition troops died so that Bush could fix an election...

12 comments:

the paradox of democracy eh?

Left to its own devices (without numberous limitations upon the power of the democracy) just about every democracy will eventually elect someone who will abolish democracy and slaughter a set of the population. In otherwords democracy is a threat to itself.

this is even more likely when the democracy is new and the country is under stress.

the question being does one see democracy through this time? Or limit the methods of creating democracy to the use of democracy?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/19/2005 06:30:00 AM

> the paradox of democracy eh?

well no, not really, because iraq is not a democracy. it is being called one, and there are some democratic processes in place that just might lead to it becoming one, but in reality it's a military autocracy.

all this labelling of iraq as a democracy is really just propaganda. the slang term for iraq is probably 'basket case'.

Posted by che tibby : 7/19/2005 07:48:00 AM

One other example I missed: a war waged supposedly to "stop terrorism" has transformed Iraq into the largest terrorist training camp in the world.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/19/2005 08:21:00 AM

This isn't a question of proper human rights safeguards; it's a fundamental question of who gets to choose the government. And the US seems to think that it is they, rather than the Iraqi people, who should do so.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/19/2005 08:22:00 AM

Or in fact...so Bush could fix _another_ election.

Posted by Michael : 7/19/2005 08:41:00 AM

the other point is the absolute denial of the invaders that iraq is accentuating terrorism. it seems that terrorists claiming, 'this is because of the invasion' is resulting all too often in orwellian denials.

you planning on a post about the latest report?

Posted by che tibby : 7/19/2005 09:33:00 AM

The problem with the Iraq-causing-terrorisn argument is it assumes that terrorists think rationally and/or that they need an excuse.

9/11 occured before Iraq. Prior to the invasion the terrorists already had their justifications. Had Iraq not occured they would have put forward other excuses, eg the liberation of East Timor.

The other issue is do we want bin Laden to determine what we do? Overthrowing Saddam had its own merits despite what the terrorists think.

Posted by Sock Thief : 7/19/2005 10:30:00 AM

that 'terrorists are irrational' argument is wholly false.

a dedication to martyrdom doesn't mean insanity. the 9-11 bombers knew exactly what they were doing, they planned for months and years ahead, and they perfectly executed and well-laid out plan.

that is not insanity.

the shoe-bomber guy? maybe.

and yes, there are multiple reasons providing justification for Islamic extremists to attack Western targets, but you can't argue that the every action of the West has no effect on terrorism any more than you can argue that every action of the West does have an effect.

Look at Timor. That stirred up anti-Australian feelings amongst extremists who already hated Australia. But you can't argue that it stirred up feeling about Britain, which had absolutely nothing to do with assisting the Fretlin (sp?) guerrillas turn into a government.

But Iraq and Britain? There is a very tangible, and bleeding obvious, link.

Posted by che tibby : 7/19/2005 11:11:00 AM

che, prior to the invasion bin Laden and others were already using Iraq as a recruiting tool - because of the sanctions and no-fly zones. Likewise with the presence of US troops in Suadi Arabia, which were their to stop Saddam having another go at the Gulf States.

Britain, as well as being part of the containment of Saddam, was also part of getting rid of the Taliban and so denying bin Laden his safe haven. This was before the invasion. Britain and other countries were already targets.

And do you really want to agrue against the war on the grounds that a bunch of religious fanatics are going to get pissed off?

Posted by Sock Thief : 7/19/2005 11:23:00 AM

no, i've always argued against the war because we were sold it on the basis of the need to remove WMDs from the hands of a mad tyrant.

now that the process has gone pear-shaped, without the justifications being proven, we are being told that this folly is not accentuating the problem.

maybe the right needs to recognise that it is a problem, and that it is a problem exacerbated by their actions, and then we can all get on with trying to solve it.

this left-right split on who's to blame is really just getting in the way of the war on terror. the finger-pointing and moral-high-groundedness is just detracting from the real dangers.

Posted by che tibby : 7/19/2005 11:38:00 AM

I agree whole-heartedly. I get really tired of arguing the toss over the war and for no purpose.
The only possible constructive thing to do is try and work out what to do now without the devisiveness getting too much in the way. And I think that those who supported the war need to heed this just as much as anyone esle.

Posted by Sock Thief : 7/19/2005 11:48:00 AM

a truce then.

the go is, we need to somehow harness the rights need to go kick some a$$, which does need to be done in those training camps, with the lefts need to smoothe ruffled islamic feathers.

maybe blair's emphasis on appealling to moderate islam is a good idea. combined with opening a tin of whip-a$$ at the proper time, it might well be a solution.

Posted by che tibby : 7/19/2005 12:10:00 PM