Thursday, June 23, 2005

More Fisk

ABC Interview: "I think there are going to be more assassinations"


What on earth is he saying - the road to democarcy is hard so why bother?

True, tribalism is a factor working against the creation of liberal democratic states but that's a problem every nation went through to get to a democracy.

Posted by Sock Thief : 6/23/2005 11:33:00 AM

I think its both an appreciation of how deeply ingrained the (often western-promoted) sectarian divisions are. They will take generations to undo. There's also a lot of cynicism about the willingness of the Americans to help undo them and support democratic governments they don't like - and on that, Fisk is well-justified. Iran, anyone?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/23/2005 12:18:00 PM

You're saying that Iran has a democratic Government?

To lay the blame for sectarian strife on the US is stretching things majorly. There are many other bigger culprits, Turkey (the Kurds) for example. But mostly those conflicts pre-date any US invlovement in the region.

At presnt we have Rice telling off Egypt and Saudi Arabia - something that liberals have demanded to prove the democracy talk is meaningful. We have the first US presisdent to ever explicitly support a Palestinian state. And Fisk responds with "it's all hopeless".

I think Fisk is stuck in the Middle East of 20 years ago when there was an element of truth to what he is saying. But the world has moved on but he still needs to blame the US for everything.

Posted by Sock Thief : 6/23/2005 02:26:00 PM

I'm saying that Iran had a democratic system of government before the Americans overthrew it and installed the Shah and his torturers in order to protect British and American oil interests from nationalisation. Or has that little fact just slipped from memory?

Of course sectarian divisions predate American involvement. Divide-and-rule was a standard trick from the colonial rulebook, and has been used by all the powers who have taken a piece of the Middle East over the past few centuries (notably the UK, France, and of course the Ottomans). This has laid a legacy of hate and suspicion that will take generations to undo, and make it difficult for democracy to grow. OTOH, what is going on in Lebanon is extremely promising - and I don't see Fisk denying that at all.

As for the US, if it wants to support democracy in the Middle East, the first thing it should do is stop supporting tyrants and torturers. It's made some welcome noises on that front, but in the case of Egypt for example the rhetoric falls far short of the reality. It should also go to great lengths to avoid the divide-and-rule tactics of the past. And on this front, its extremely disappointing to see US policymakers openly discussing using sectarian divisions (and sectarian death-squads) as a way of dealing with Sunni insurgents in Iraq...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/23/2005 03:17:00 PM

I wouldn't put the sectarian divisions down quiet so strongly to past divide and rule policies. Actually I'm not sure if that was ever a significant policy. Under the Ottomans there was relative peace in the region. The British accorded different groups independence since that was what was being demanded. The ethnic and religious tensions have their own causes - they are not the result of colonialism. In fact it has been when colonialism is lifted that such divisions often become violent - Yugoslavia and now in Iraq where Sunni control has gone.

It's hard to know what more you want the US to do in cases such as Egypt. Rice has explicitly supported reform. US aid to Egypt is part of the Egypt-Israel peace accord and would cause much anger if curtailed. And at some point US intervention in Egyptian politics would become counterproductive.

Your characterization of US actions in Iraq as promoting ethnic divisions does not correspond to reality. US policy has been to explicitly support a unified Iraq where religious and ethnic groups can peacefully co-exist.

Posted by Sock Thief : 6/23/2005 03:56:00 PM