Bombing journalists

by Chris Bertram on November 23, 2005

I see that the White House is calling the suggestion that George W. Bush suggested bombing the headquarters of Aljazeera in Qatar (a friendly state) outlandish . Anyone who watched BBC’s Newsnight last night will have seen Frank Gaffney defending (indeed advocating) attacking Aljazeera as entirely legitimate on the grounds that the station is an arm of enemy propaganda. There is also the small matter of the fact that the civil servants who leaked the transcript of the Bush—Blair conversation are facing prosecution for doing so and that the Daily Mirror has been subjected to pressure . It is hard to see how someone could “leak” or could be prosecuted for leaking a document if it was other than genuine. One of the neocon themes has been the need for free institutions in the Arab world. Such institutions presumably involve a free and independent media. And yet the closest thing to such a media in the region is discussed as a possible target of attack (and indeed there have been numerous “accidental” attacks on Aljazeera staff).

{ 1 trackback }

Crooked Timber » » Boris Johnson on Bombing Al-Jazeera
11.26.05 at 11:08 am

{ 66 comments }

1

Ginger Yellow 11.23.05 at 5:23 am

“”We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response.”

Can you say “Non-denial denial”?

The US bombed Al Jazeerah to rubble in Kabul. It hit the Al Jazeerah offices in Baghdad with a missile. It blew up Serbia’s state TV headquarters. Why exactly is this “inconceivable”?

2

rollo 11.23.05 at 5:42 am

“One of the neocon themes has been the need for free institutions in the Arab world.”
One of their stated themes.
Kind of the whole point though is the profound discrepancy between stated purpose and theme, and what their actions reveal as being far more likely the case.
So many otherwise sensible activists and concerned and intelligent people keep trying to engage them on the evidence of their discourse.
But neocon public speech has all the semantic depth of squid ink, and it’s injected into the media for similar purpose.

3

des von bladet 11.23.05 at 6:14 am

Am I really the only person who didn’t already know exactly who the unglossed Frank Gaffney was and had to Google?

Given that the Grauniad is also “an arm of enemy propaganda” in the eyes of more than a few of the wingier sort of nut, this would certainly be a most invigorating precedent.

Nothing could be more natural, however, than translating the domestic “dissent is treason” to “dissent is an act of war” in Abroad.

4

abb1 11.23.05 at 6:50 am

What do you reckon he meant by ‘bombing’ Aljazeera’s headquarters? I can’t imagine them dropping a bomb from a plane or firing a missile – not in Qatar, certainly, right? He must’ve been talking about the CIA planting a bomb there.

5

raj 11.23.05 at 7:12 am

Just a warning: Maybe Tony Blair might want to increase his security. What comes around, goes around.

6

Brendan 11.23.05 at 7:22 am

There are some beliefs that are so incredible, so ludicrous, so inherently unbelievable that people living only a few generations afterwards can scarcely believe that relatively intelligent people believed them.

For example, how is it possible that serious intellectuals actually genuinely believed that Stalin was interested in ‘socialism’: that he was interested in bringing ‘true democracy’ to the Soviet People (and then the world), or that Soviet industrial achievments would lead to a situation where (as Khruschev put it) ‘we will bury you’?

And then how could people (in many cases, the SAME people) then persuade themselves that Mao’s Cultural Revolution (in actuality, a coup d’etat to destroy the Communist Party structure and replace it with a structure more amenable to Mao’s own ends) was a ‘bottom up’ youth revolution, leading to a more democratic inclusive, peaceful society?

And finally, how can sane, coherent, intelligent people actually believe that the Iraq war was to bring democracy to the Middle East? Literally every day the news shows us facts that demostrate beyond any conceivable doubt that it could not possibly be true. With the exception of Iran and Syria (unconcidentally part of the new ‘Axis of Evil’) all states in the region (from UAE to Kuwait to Egypt etc. etc. etc.) serve US interests. Some are openly puppet dictatorships, owned and controlled from Washington (Egypt). Others are dictatorships that ‘lean’ towards the US (Kuwait, UAE, Jordan). Others are democracies that, despite the fact that they are ostensibly free could not continue without US help (financially) and which, thereofre, operate on a tight leash, a leash held by the US (Israel). On the outer limits of US control are once pariah states that have now been taught to sit, beg and roll over (Libya). Finally, we have US puppet dictatorships that have now become so powerful that there is a meaningful sense in which the ‘tail has started to wag the dog’ (Saudi Arabia).

George Bush could have democracy in the Middle East by Christmas if he wanted it, given that he practically owns the region. He does not want it, because if there were elections in all these countries the ‘wrong people’ might get in, the same excuse as was used to turn South American into a giant concentration camp.

Everyone, but everyone in the Middle East knows these things. Equally, due to the mendacity of our political leaders, and a supine media, few in the West do. Instead we are told that an attack on one of the region’s few remaining secular states was to combat ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, and that this state now being handed over to Iran is a triumph for ‘secular values’. But no one laughs. And when Hitchens, Cohen, Aaronovitch et al, argue that one of ‘the neocon themes has been the need for free institutions in the Arab world.’ we all sit and stroke our chins and nod as though this was a serious proposition, and not the sort of thing you would expect from a paranoid schizophrenic. In this context the decision to attack the free media in Iraq strikes me as neither implausible nor unbelievable.

7

Grandma Lausch 11.23.05 at 7:38 am

There are far too many journalists, and most of them are worse than useless parasites. This world would be a better place without Al-Jazeera, BBC, Guardian and their ilk.

8

soru 11.23.05 at 7:39 am

There are some beliefs that are so incredible, so ludicrous, so inherently unbelievable that people living only a few generations afterwards can scarcely believe that relatively intelligent people believed them.

George Bush could have democracy in the Middle East by Christmas if he wanted it, given that he practically owns the region.

No comment required.

soru

9

abb1 11.23.05 at 8:03 am

No comment required

Sure is required. He does own Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, etc. Why there’s no democracy in those places?

10

Matt 11.23.05 at 8:25 am

It’s worth recalling that the US bombed the state TV station in Belgrade during the Kosovo crisis as well, killing several reporters. If I recall it was said it was an accident and anyway they were saying bad things about us anyway so they deserved it. Saddly, this is nothing new.

11

Bob B 11.23.05 at 8:36 am

“There are far too many journalists, and most of them are worse than useless parasites. This world would be a better place without Al-Jazeera, BBC, Guardian and their ilk.”

Surely that really should include: The [London] Times as well. After all, The Times published that hugely embarrassing secret memo of 23 July 2002 reporting the assessment of Sir Richard Dearlove [‘C’, by convention], then head of Britain’s secret intelligence service:

“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html

Why not invoke the precautionary motive and err on the safe side by shutting down all mainstream media or at least subject the media to government control to make sure it only peddles the approved line?

12

Bob B 11.23.05 at 8:49 am

Update on the Daily Mirror news report about the transcript of the Bush-Blair conversation on bombing al-Jazeera:

“NEWSPAPERS editors were threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act last night if they published details of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush in which the President is alleged to have suggested bombing al-Jazeera, the Arab news network. Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, informed newspapers editors including that of The Times that ‘publication of a document that has been unlawfully disclosed by a Crown servant could be in breach of Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act.’

“The Blair Government has obtained court injunctions against newspapers before but it has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1885279,00.html

In this case, obviously the British government is taking the suppression of news very seriously.

13

soru 11.23.05 at 8:52 am

He does own Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.

If he really ‘owned’ those places, but felt the urge to bomb al jazeera, wouldn’t he be better off just having everyone who works there arrested, tried and replaced by Republican Reptiles?

soru

14

Don Quijote 11.23.05 at 8:56 am

No comment required

Sure is required. He does own Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, etc. Why there’s no democracy in those places?

Does the phrase “Israel Hating ,American Hating Islamic Fundementalist goverment” rings a bell? cause that’s exactly what you would get in most Middle Eastern countries if they held fair elections.

15

Brendan 11.23.05 at 8:59 am

‘Sure is required. He does own Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, etc. Why there’s no democracy in those places?’

abb1: remember it’s impossible to reason someone out of what they weren’t reasoned into.

As you know, I could have gone on. The statement ‘George Bush wants democracy in the middle east’ (or ‘the posters at Harry’s Place want democracy in the middle east’) is of course meaningless rhetoric, the sort of thing that anyone can agree with. Bernard Crick, in his ‘A Very Short Introduction to Democracy’ points out that almost every post world war 2 dictator described their dictatorship as a democracy of some sort. Given that this is the case (and it is) it’s clear that without asking specific questions, saying ‘I want democracy’ is a statement Stalin or Franco could easily have agreed with.

So: specific examples. Take for example, the brutal fascist dictatorship in Egypt (‘The United States remains deeply committed to the partnership of our two countries as our relationship evolves from one based on aid to one rooted in trade and investment.’), a country that the US essentially owns (given that it has given more than $50 billion in aid to Egypt over the last 25 years (despite the fact that Egypt is not, by world standards, a particularly poor country). Would George Bush sit ‘idly by’ and help Egypt to become a democracy if, as seems likely the Muslim Brotherhood would win the elections?

The answer is that he would not.

What about Saudi Arabia? The links between Bush and this loathsome woman hating anti-semitic regime are well known. Less well known is the instituional links between Saudi and the US which go back over 70 years. .

Would Bush sit back and watch perhaps the country with more oil reserves than any other turn to democracy and vote in Osama Bin Laden, or someone aligned to him as Bob Baer has suggested?

The answer is he would not.

And what about Kuwait? After the ‘liberation’ of Gulf War 1, the ‘allies’ had the chance to install a democracy there. The chose instead to reimpose the freedom loving Kuwaiti junta.

And so it goes. We fight ‘Islamic terrorism’ by attacking secular regimes. The only nascent democracy in the region, and the only one that has genuine elections (Palestine) is economically neutralised and ignored. Why? Becuase the Palestinians vote in ‘the wrong people’.

In Iraq, if we were serious about installing democracy we would be leaving after December 15th, because by then the job would be done. Will we? Don’t hold your breath. And so it goes: UAE, Jordan, and, further afield, Pakistan, all US backed dictatorships, just like in South America. Their moves towards ‘democracy’ are a sham and a lie. Musharraf stated he would hand back power to a civilian government after three years when he first took power: a lie, but one which one the enthusiastic backing of Blair and Bush. Now he promises elections in 2006 or 2007: another lie.

Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

American does not and cannot want elections or democracy in the Middle East, because people in the Middle East loathe Britain and they US (with reason) and genuine democratic governments would fall over themselves to make deals with, amongst other people, China and India (and even, gasp, the French) in terms of oil, and attempt to cut the US and Britain out. End of.

16

Brendan 11.23.05 at 9:10 am

‘If he really ‘owned’ those places, but felt the urge to bomb al jazeera, wouldn’t he be better off just having everyone who works there arrested, tried and replaced by Republican Reptiles’

‘The Roman Republic started out as what historians call a ‘Hegemonic Empire’. What that means, in basic terms, is that the Romans directly controlled (only) a small area of land with their legions…. Surrounding this region, or linked to it by roads or sea-lanes, are small client states. These were smaller kingdoms that relied on Rome for protection and in return not only paid tribute, but also supplied the legions with food and auxilia (auxiliary troops). Auxiliary troops were cavalry, men armed with bows and slings, so on.
Outside the states are the tribes, some are clients to Rome and some are not. They were harder to control because of the distance from Rome and their own lack of organization, but some tribes are useful allies against other tribes.

The whole set up was pretty nice. Minor threats, like raiders, could be handled by the client states and the Rome never had to deal with it. Major threats, like invasion from Parthian Empire, could be handled by just bringing in some of the legions, which when added to the local auxiliary units, made a well-balanced defensive. In fact, legions plus auxiliary could be used for invading and annexing new holdings.

Why would client states allow this or even be happy with this relationship? Freedom from direct control was one. Yes, Rome had the power to replace kings, but by subjecting themselves to Roman diplomatic control smart kings got protection from other powerful nations and OTHER client states. For without the permission of Rome, no client state could declare war against another. Also, a King who proved himself valuable to Rome could call on legions to help put down revolts and civil unrest.

What did Rome get? Rome got trade, power beyond the direct reach of their legions and an empire at a tiny cost. ‘

Client states were not directly run by Rome, hence the name ‘client state’. In the same way, modern client states like Saudi, Pakistan and Egypt are not run by Washington. Instead they have a certain amount of autonomy: moreover there are obligations each way. Saudi has to arrange to give the US oil: in return Saudi gets American military protection from its neighbours and its own people. In the same way, Egypt delivers a pro-Israeli foreign policy, and in return she receives gigantic bribes. There can be friction between the imperial ‘centre’ and the client states, and client states even have a (reasonable) amount of autonomy: client states can even rise up against the Empire (Boudicca is the classic example in British history).

17

roger 11.23.05 at 9:57 am

“Ownership” is not a very good word to describe the US relationship to its allies in the Middle East. Rather, I think it is an evolution from a former colonial norm explored by Anthony Pagden in this winter’s History and Theory. In India, the British ruled a collection of semi-autonomous rulers within that territory long into the nineteenth century, although eroding their power as the century went on. They were semi-autonomous insofar as they had the power to tax and judge. But they had no power to make foreign policy. Pagden analyzes the colonial situation from the p.o.v. of sovereignty. A mixed mode of sovereignty put an independent foreign policy out of bounds. The U.S. system is an evolved form of this, with the U.S. having less power to absolutely abridge foreign policy, but using its power mostly to abridge foreign policy among these states.

The new rhetoric about democracy within the states is, I would imagine, a prelude to liberalizing their economies more than anything else. But it will surely conflict with the U.S. norm of forbidding states such as Egypt to transgress U.S. norms about foreign policy. That is happening with Iraq’s friendliness with Iran, much against U.S. wishes, and surely that is being closely looked at by Middle Eastern states

18

Hektor Bim 11.23.05 at 10:03 am

Brendan,

The problem with your reasoning is explained in the last posting. Bush in no way “owns” the Middle East. There are a variety of client relationships with a number of states. The US’s relationship varies from country to country in its influence. The US is not omnipotent in its power.

Bush couldn’t get democracy by Christmas because it is not in the interest of the rulers of the “client” states. Mubarak does not want to give up power, and we lack the power to make him. The one time we really got together to make a serious country our own client state, we got the Shah of Iran, and we all know how that turned out.

I don’t disagree with your point that Bushco isn’t pushing democracy in the ME, but I think you are overstating the power of the US in the area. If we act strongly against the interests of the ruling classes in these countries, we will probably lose. Native elites have much more legitimacy than the US does.

This isn’t to say that we couldn’t pressure some countries much more strongly in a democratic direction. Jordan, for example, is strongly dependent on American support and could relatively easily be pressured toward more deocracy if that is what we wanted. But that is not what we want.

The interesting thing is that there isn’t a great difference between pro- and anti-US regimes in the region. Iran was at one time more free than other countries there, but the situation there is regressing. I don’t think American support is that important one way or the other for democracy promotion, at least so far, with the exception of Iraq.

19

soru 11.23.05 at 10:09 am

Well, exactly, as far as it goes.

The US maintains an equal or greater hegenomy over Europe, in the sense of being able to control which side wins any war there (as the Balkans showed).

That does not appear to be incompatible with any sense of democracy that is likely to affect the lives of anyone but war-gaming military planners.

To say that Bush, or those who think for him, ‘want’ democracy is pure cant. To say that they have, at least for now, decided democracy promotion is the most appropriate tactic for promoting their interests does appear to be an accurate observation.

soru

20

Brendan 11.23.05 at 10:27 am

‘Bush couldn’t get democracy by Christmas because it is not in the interest of the rulers of the “client” states. Mubarak does not want to give up power, and we lack the power to make him. The one time we really got together to make a serious country our own client state, we got the Shah of Iran, and we all know how that turned out.’

Hmmm. It’s not clear to me how the situation vis a vis the Shah is fundamentally different from the situation vis a vis any of our other client states. After all, you could argue that we had less power over the Shah than with the others, in that (unlike Saudi or UAE, for example) my understanding is that the Shah’s Iran actually had elections (albeit of a circumscribed form) and therefore had to deal with public opinion in a way that Saudi doesn’t.

It’s difficult to think of a counter-argument to your argument as it’s difficult to think of any situation where Britain or the US have ever supported democracy in a client state. However (I’m not sure if it’s ‘politically acceptable’ to quote Noam Chomsky here, but I will risk it….) .

‘President Clinton needs no instructions on how to proceed. In May 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called upon Indonesian President Suharto to resign and provide for “a democratic transition.” A few hours later, Suharto transferred authority to his handpicked vice president. Though not simple cause and effect, the events illustrate the relations that prevail. Ending the torture in East Timor would have been no more difficult than dismissing Indonesia’s dictator in May 1998’.

In any case, whereas Saudi has quite a lot of influence on American politics (mainly via bribes and arms deals . ) it’s not really clear in what way Egypt or Pakistan could influence American foreign policy in the same way.

I repeat: the key reason, in my opinion why the US does not put pressure (of ANY sort) onto Egypt or Pakistan to have genuine democratic elections is beause they are worried that the ‘wrong’ people might win. And this brings us back to the initial posting. Why does the US hate al-jazeerah if they really want a free press in the region?

Aside from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (these are invalid arguments becasue you are trying to argue that these are genuine moves towards democracy and I am denying it: to include them in your argument would be to smuggle in your premise along with your conclusion): as I say, apart from these two examples, have you any evidence that the US has put serious genuine pressure on Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or others to democratise? Soundbites and press conferences don’t count.

21

abb1 11.23.05 at 10:38 am

To say that they have, at least for now, decided democracy promotion is the most appropriate tactic for promoting their interests does appear to be an accurate observation.

Interesting. To me it appears that they decided (once again) that things like bullying, bombing, repressing and torturing are the most appropriate tactic for promoting their interests.

How is it possible that we are looking at the same chain of events and come to conclusions so different…

22

soru 11.23.05 at 10:54 am

Well, a conclusion is the thing that comes at the end.

If that end is ‘decisions are made by elected politicians, in the context of US military and economic power, perhaps conditional aid, etc’, and not ‘permanent US bullying, bombing, repressing and torturing’, would you accept that that is a situation where your conclusion turned out to be incorrect?

Because there is one definition of imperialism that means that some South American countries pay a 1% risk premium on loans, and another that involves the cutting off of hands for bounty.

Strangely, these often get confused.

soru

23

abb1 11.23.05 at 11:13 am

I think they felt that bullying alone (what you call ‘decisions made in the context of US military and economic power’) was losing effectiveness and decided, once again, to make it a bit more persuasive by bombing, torturing, etc., in a normal mafia-style show of force, ruthlessness and determination.

I don’t know, perhaps you could argue that their eventually going back to bullying alone (according to the plan) would constitute triumph of democracy in the context of US military and economic power; but the problem is that they seem to have failed to improve their bullying powers and now they’re stuck having to keep on bombing and torturing.

We’ll see what happens.

24

Hektor Bim 11.23.05 at 11:28 am

Let’s see, US promoting democracy in a client state:

Germany
Japan
South Korea
Kosovo
Poland
Ukraine
etc…

My point about Iran is that that was a case where we promoted our own ideas of what was appropriate, and that was viewed as counterproductive by many native elites and the mass of common people. It failed. I’m pretty sure that some form of Egypt’s government would survive without our support. I don’t think that is true of Jordan.

I think we had a lot more influence over Indonesia in 1998 than we had earlier, precisely because our goals and the goals of many native elites and the vast preponderance of the population were aligned.

It’s not just the US that is worried that the wrong people will win. A lot of people in Egypt and Pakistan are very worried about an Islamist party taking over and will work to prevent it, by fair means or foul. That’s essentially what happened in Algeria (which of course the French supported wholeheartedly, speaking of imperialism). I don’t disagree with you that the US is hypocritical here, but it is not just up to the US. The elites in Egypt are very scared of the Muslim Brotherhood.

I think it is incontrovertible that the current governments of Afghanistan and Iraq are far more representative of the citizens of those countries than the previous governments (Baath and the Taliban). Whether they are more democratic is too early to tell.

25

soru 11.23.05 at 12:04 pm

I think they felt that bullying alone (what you call ‘decisions made in the context of US military and economic power’)

I notice you seem to be using words that refer to emotionally-significant things that one person can do to another, but talking about things that one nation does to another.

Admittedly, anthromorphising international relations in that way is a common intellectual mistake, one made by every nationalist that ever cried about the ‘rape of the motherland’.

Nevertheless, it is just about always a serious one.

soru

26

Pablo Stafforini 11.23.05 at 12:06 pm

It’s not just the US that is worried that the wrong people will win. A lot of people in Egypt and Pakistan are very worried about an Islamist party taking over and will work to prevent it, by fair means or foul.

These two sentences are related in a rather curious manner. Our genial commenter wants us to believe that the US shares the worries of people in Egypt and Pakistan about an Islamist party taking over. In fact, the US is no more worried about Islamic extremism than, say, about the 500,000 Iraqi children that died during the 1990’s due to US/UK-backed economic sanctions. In any case, the US was certainly not worried about Islamic extremism when, in 1979, it recruited, armed, and organized thousands of fanatic mujaheddins to overthrow Afghanistan’s first secular government–a government that advocated precisely the values that the US is said to be fighting for, like freedom of religion and equal rights for women and various ethnic minorities.

27

abb1 11.23.05 at 12:18 pm

But these nation-to-nation things most often happen on individual level as well. A politician (or a group of politicians) is bribed or threatened, protected and promoted or blackmailed and smeared, or even killed. Read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

And what’s wrong with defensive nationalism? What if the motherland is being raped – you think it never happens?

28

Brendan 11.23.05 at 12:25 pm

To agree with Pablo…quite: the idea that the US has ever been opposed to Islamo-fascism is of course a sick joke, and the proof is Saudi Arabia.

Of course the US opposes Islamo-fascists who oppose US interests (Bin Laden etc.) but ’twas ever thus.

I was going to argue against the list of American client states (which includes Poland (!) that well known ex-American colony) but I lost the will to live. Perhaps I should move to that well known democracy Kosova, where Paddy Ashdown had (until last month) power to ‘issue decrees, sack politicians, judges and whomsoever he wants’ and who had powers equivalent to a medaeval pope, according to Ed Vulliamy, who thinks this was a fine thing. (Ashdown has now been replaced by someone else).

29

abb1 11.23.05 at 12:32 pm

Ukrain’s in a crapper these days – one bunch of gangsters was replaced by another…

30

Peter 11.23.05 at 1:07 pm

Shah’s Iran actually had elections …

Those elections were staged and his party would win (at least until the mid 60s) unanimous support, just like the Communist party would win 100% of the vote in the Soviet Union.

I recommend you read The Persian Puzzle for some painful history of the country. I lived in Iran for a while. I have no idea if we can resolve or reconcile the grievances between our countries.

The lawfully elected government of Iran was deposed in order to install the Shah. Which is about the opposite of democracy, so I guess it is par for the course for US relations in the MidEast.

31

Chan 11.23.05 at 3:12 pm

Have any of you noticed that when you Google this story (“leaked memo” “Al Jazeera”) and check Google news only foreign news sources appear?

32

Zephania 11.23.05 at 3:23 pm

Getting back to bombing news agencies … isn’t it telling that only one of the so-called independent news agencies has been bombed or threatened with being bombed. The remainder, it appears, toes the party line via embedded reporting. (What a joke! Did ’embedded’ accountants audit Enron?). It appears that ‘All News is Lies’ (to borrow a phrase) except when the news is from Aljazeera.

33

soru 11.23.05 at 4:01 pm

But these nation-to-nation things most often happen on individual level as well. A politician (or a group of politicians) is bribed or threatened, protected and promoted or blackmailed and smeared, or even killed

I’d make a donation to the the ‘poor dictator’s bodyguard fund’, but only if every other more worthy cause in the world already had sufficient money.

In any case, something it is important to realise is that while the US is immensely rich, militarily powerful, culturally influential and so on, it would hardly place highly on any chart of ‘ability to successfully organise secret murders’.

So maybe the secret of its prominence lies elsewhere?

soru

34

Hektor Bim 11.23.05 at 7:22 pm

Brendan,

The argument isn’t over whether these countries are colonies or ex-colonies, the argument is that these are client states. At least in some ways, Poland, Romania, and other former communist states are client states of the US and the EU, and deeply happy to be, actually. It sure beats being a client states of the Soviet Union.

Kosovo without a doubt has a more representative government now than it did under Yugoslavia in the 90s, and the US is pushing for it be more democratic and independent. So I think it qualifies. I notice you don’t challenge Germany, Japan, or South Korea, where the US definitely encouraged democracy.

So, Pablo, do you think American policy hasn’t changed at all since the 80s vis a vis islamism?

35

Bob B 11.23.05 at 8:24 pm

Update 2 on the revelations by the Daily Mirror of the Bush-Blair conversation about bombing al-Jazeera:

“THE Attorney-General was accused last night of using the Official Secrets Act ‘big stick’ to gag newspapers in an attempt to save President Bush from further embarrassment over Iraq. . .

“A record of the conversation was leaked by a Cabinet Office official to the researcher of an MP, and details appeared in a newspaper this week. Both men have been charged under the Official Secrets Act and will appear in court next week.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1887815,00.html

36

abb1 11.24.05 at 3:33 am

Soru, both Europe and Japan have similar level of wealth and cultural influence, yet their level of prominence is nowhere near. So, I suspect this is mostly about military power and other means of coercion.

37

brendan 11.24.05 at 5:05 am

Sigh. Hektor:

‘The argument isn’t over whether these countries are colonies or ex-colonies, the argument is that these are client states. At least in some ways, Poland, Romania, and other former communist states are client states of the US and the EU, and deeply happy to be, actually. It sure beats being a client states of the Soviet Union’

My point was self-evidently about client state dictatorships (i.e. Indonesia, Chile, Guatemala) of the US which the US then encouraged to become democracies. My point was that this doesn’t happen too often, and the fact that this is true is shown by the current state of the Middle East. Almost all Middle East states are US client states.

Poland etc. (I feel kinda embarassed having to make this point) were of course client states of the Soviet Union (NOT the US) who then achieved democracy. It’s you who are stretching the meaning of the phrase ‘client state’ such that it is become essentially meaningless. The nature of the relationship between Saudi and the US is well known and there are in fact treaties that shore it up. The current client state relationship between the US and the Saudis was cemented in 1945 . The US props up the Saudi dictatorship and prevents any moves towards democracy. In return the Saudis give us lots of oil. And this relationship has been of great help to both states.

To describe Poland etc. as ‘client states’ in the same way is a rhetorical trick to broaden the meaning of the phrase to make it effectively meaningless. The fact is that Poland achieved genuine freedom from the Soviet Union herself and then went looking around for allies (not the other way round). Poland is ‘friendly’ to the US but is hardly a client state in the same way that Saudi is (or Guatemala or Indonesia, or Chile or….I could go on…were).

Romania was of course a genuine client state of the US but I am unclear as to why you think the US wanted it to become democratic. Have you any evidence that it did? It’s true that events spiralled out of control and Romania ended up becoming a democracy, but if you have any evidence that the US had anything to do with it I would be interested to see it.

Isn’t it interesting incidentally, that it has now become on objective fact that the US won World War 2 on its own and then occcupied Germany (again on its own) and then ‘granted’ the Germans democracy out of the goodness of its heart? In reality of course Germany was occupied by four powers: the UK, the US, France and the Russians. Would you be happy to describe Germany as an ex-French client state? In actuality of course, Germany was never a client state in the pure sense of the word, because it was never part of the ‘hegemonic’ empire (in which, to repeat, territory was not conquered). Germany was part of the ‘territorial’ empire because it was actually conquered by the four powers, but because it was by four powers the capacity of each individual power to act was firmly circumscribed. Germany has turned out alright. Japan, where the Americans had sole power, hasn’t turned out so well (and is in effect a one party state, albeit not in the totalitarian sense).

‘the US is pushing for it (Kosova) be more democratic and independent’. Bollocks. As soon as Kosova achieves democracy they will want to secede from the Serbs and the US and the UK will never tolerate that (Kissingerean ‘realpolitik’….of the kind we don’t see any more, according to the pro-occupation Left). The current accords are an attempt to DENY Kosova democracy, whilst giving the appearance of it. If NATO was serious about democracy in Kosova (as in Iraq) they would hold a referendum about the presence of UK/US troops, but they won’t because they will lose. Even the fawning Ed Vulliamy interview with Paddy Ashdown admits that Ashdown is greatly loathed by the people who actually live in Kosova. As the fanatical pro-invasion Wall Street Journal puts it (accurately) ‘The Wall Street Journal Europe saw the same parallel, but drew a different lesson. ‘”While pressing so hard for self-government for the Iraqis, it does seem strange that France and Germany, among others in Europe, are so reluctant to grant Kosovars sovereignty.” ‘

Well, quite.

[Note: I am prepared to admit that I might be wrong about this, all I am saying is, don’t hold your breath about progress on ‘independence’ for Kosova, let alone about NATO troops coming home: to the best of my knowledge nothing like this is on the agenda].

‘So, Pablo, do you think American policy hasn’t changed at all since the 80s vis a vis islamism?’

If American foreign policy had genuinely changed vis a vis Islamism the first thing the US would do is cut off relations with Saudi Arabia, or put pressure on it to democratise. It has done neither. Therefore there has been no change in American foreign policy vis a vis Islamism.

38

brendan 11.24.05 at 6:08 am

Finally. If Bush was serious about bringing democracy to the Middle East, he would be the first to protest against this as would the pro-occupation left at Harry’s Place. Will either of them raise a squeak of protest? No. And that is because neither Bush nor the pro-invasion Left want democracy in the Middle East. It’s really very simple.

39

abb1 11.24.05 at 6:34 am

I notice you don’t challenge Germany, Japan, or South Korea, where the US definitely encouraged democracy.

I’ll challenge South Korea. Maitanting fascist dictatorship for more than 3 decades can hardly count for encouraging democracy. That’s about as arbitrary as arguing that the Soviets definitely encouraged democracy in Bulgaria…

40

Bob B 11.24.05 at 6:39 am

Brendan: “as would the pro-occupation left at Harry’s Place.”

Not to worry – everything is now under control, you can be reassured to know. The National Health Service is issuing guidelines to doctors about dealing with this kind of problem:

“Doctors in England and Wales are being given guidelines on how to diagnose patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder more easily. “
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4459950.stm

41

Ckrisz 11.24.05 at 6:52 am

Encouraging democracy in S Korea? Someone Google “Kwangju Massacre” or “Cheju Island massacre”, please.

42

soru 11.24.05 at 7:18 am

My point was self-evidently about client state dictatorships (i.e. Indonesia, Chile, Guatemala) of the US

You seem to be making a circular argument, only dictatorships can be client states, all US client states are dictatorships, therefor…

I would say a more accurate way of describing the situation is that:

1. the US used to have, worldwide, a lot of client state dictators, of the traditional ‘you can run the country, but if we withdraw military support, the mob will hang you from a lampost within a week.’ kind.

2. It now has few or none of these outside the Islamic world, and only one unambiguous one in it (Saudi Arabia). Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt you could make the case for them falling into that group, I would say they probably aren’t.

3. It does have rather more allies, for want of a better term, where the basic power relation is “you run the country, as a monarchy, democracy or whatever. But at the end of the day, remember our army can beat the Russians/Chinese/Iranians/…, and yours can’t”.

4. the current strategic goal of the US is to change it’s relations with middle eastern countries to be more like the ones it has with countries outside that region. You know, the ones that don’t fly planes into its buildings.

soru

43

abb1 11.24.05 at 7:32 am

The current strategic goal is exactly the same it always has been – to maintain maximum control with minimum cost. Everything else is coincidental.

Saudies are the ones who fly planes into building, but obviously that’s not a good enough reason to change anything there.

44

brendan 11.24.05 at 8:36 am

Abb1’s point is correct and crushing. It was the Saudi’s (with the help of Egyptians) who created the environment in which the 9/11 hijackers functioned. Iraq had nothing to do with it. If the US was serious about battling ‘Islamo-fascism’, the first state it would tackle would be Saudi, then Egypt. Instead it went after Iraq (a secular state, with no operational links to Osama Bin Laden).

In the case of Egypt the client relationship is obvious and is not denied by anyone serious: Egypt delivers for the US a ‘pro-Israeli’ foreign policy (a policy which is opposed by the majority of Egyptians, so far as we can tell) and in return the US props up the regime and helps them to suppress their own people. The US is insitutionally opposed to democracy in Egypt because if there were genuine elections in Egypt

a: the Muslim Brotherhood would likely win them and

b: even if the Muslim Brotherhood had to govern in coalition with other parties, the overall shift in foreign policy would be against Israel and the US because the average Egyptian (so far as we can tell) hates both countries.

Therefore the US has no intention of holding elections there, ever, although it will help to create fake elections to satisfy ‘useful idiots’ who want to believe that the US is serious about democracy.

In terms of Pakistan, the US has long leaned towards the country (interspersed with shorter periods when it has blown hot and cold) and the most reactionary and ‘Islamo-fascist’ elements in it, as against the democratic India (whose government has the strange idea that the people should have a say in matters of foreign policy). The Indian people have a strange aversion to US foreign policy, a sign of their political immaturity, doubtless.

As a means to this end, the US helped in what is perhaps the major post-war genocide, the one that took place during the Bangladesh war of liberation (as it is not known in the West). Perhaps a million people (perhapd three million) were murdered. Only the Khmer Rouge atrocities and Rwanda come close. Nixon seems to have armed the Pakistani army and supported the genocide througout.

In more recent times, to quote the government: ‘Pakistan is vital to US interests in Asia’. For helping in the ‘war on terror’, the country has received $2.64 billion in bribes aid over the last three years. Again, given that (from what we can tell) the Pakistan people have a strange lack of faith in the US war on terror, it is highly unlikely the US will permit elections, as this would threaten not just the control of Pakistan but the ‘success’ in Afghanistan as well.

These things are all in the public record, and are not denied by any serious scholar. To support US foreign policy is to support Saudi ‘Islamo-fascism’, the sclerotic regime in Egypt, the tyranny in Pakistan. There is no ‘wave of democracy’ in the region, nor will there be until US power is broken, because the US is institutionally committed to preventing democracy in the region.

The useful idiots of the pro-war side are in fact acting (objectively, as the Marxists used to say) in favour of Saudi anti-semitism, in favour of Saudi supporting of terror, and are against (again, ‘objectively’) democracy, in the region, and in many other regions as well (South America, for example).

There has been no change in US stragegy: nor will there be, until the people of the US achieve democracy against US wishes. The new states that will then come into existence are not likely to be friendly to the US or Britain, and it will be our fault.

45

brendan 11.24.05 at 8:39 am

Nixon’s support for the Pakistan Genocide (‘the tilt’): documents here:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB79

(incidentally, i do know how to spell ‘strategy’: apologies).

46

roger 11.24.05 at 10:22 am

Soru, I don’t know how you are counting. I would count Pakistan as not only a military dictatorship of the Shah type, but one in which our supposed ally maintains himself by playing an elaborate shell game with al qaeda’s allies. Read Stephen Coll’s New Yorker article this week. The only functioning aid group in Kashimir after an earthquake that killed almost a quarter of those killed in Pakistan’s most devastating war are being aided by Al qaeda’s biggest fundamentalist ally. Meanwhile, Musharref took the occasion to announce the purchase of a billion dollars in military aircraft from Sweden. Can anybody say, betting your entire interest in the country on one man and allowing him to alienate the entire population? Businesses know not to sponsor tv programs that alienate their core clients, but the U.S. government has yet to learn this simple lesson after, oh, fifty years of cold war and fifteen of post cold war foreign policy.
Of course, the last five years have seen foreign policy controlled by some combination of frat house and high school debate team, so one should expect disaster. But the problems are definitely structural.
As for dictators, hmm,let’s add Angola to your list. Let’s also add our wooing of Central Asian republics. And let’s wonder what the common denominator is — could it be oil?
A good predictor of whether the U.S. is going to support a dictatorship or not is whether the country is either a direct exporter of oil or considered necessary to placate in order to keep oil flowing.

47

Bob B 11.24.05 at 10:55 am

“The war in Iraq is still in its early stages and US and British troops are likely to be bogged down in the conflict for decades, a report by the Oxford Research Group said on Wednesday.”
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/a33ef8ca-5c0e-11da-af92-0000779e2340.html

The one comfort, I suppose, is that there will be lots more opportunities for threads about the war on Crooked Timber.

48

soru 11.24.05 at 11:08 am

.The US is insitutionally opposed to democracy in Egypt

If the US left were to stick to the argument ‘Bush is being too cautious or insincere in democracy promotion’, then, right or wrong, it would be a force for good.

The problem is, it so often alternates that with the opposite message, that ‘democracy is not capable of being part of a real-world solution for the problems of Iraq’, or ‘any country that receives US aid cannot be a meaningful democracy’.

Of course, any democracy that cannot deal with the problem of potentially excessive US influence is clearly not going to be capable of dealing successfully with any other serious internal or external problems either. And things that sound nice, but can’t survive in the real world are not, in that world, good things.

Do you really want to line up with the claim that democracy is ‘nice’ but not ‘good’?

Presumably, this is all because you hear isolationatists, islamophobes (or outright racists) and Nixonian realists all making anti-Bush arguments and think ‘that sounds a bit plausible, he sounds informed, and I hate Bush too, so I agree with that’.

I think there are rather better grounds on which to form a political position than ‘I agree with everyone who disagrees with Bush’.

soru

49

brendan 11.24.05 at 2:07 pm

My position IS that ‘Bush is being insincere (when he gives his line about) democracy promotion’. I guess that makes me a force for good, then, eh?

50

soru 11.24.05 at 4:53 pm

Yes, as long as you stick to that argument, and don’t drift to saying the opposite whenever the ‘leak of the day’ seems to give an opportunity to score a debating point.

soru

51

brendan 11.24.05 at 5:45 pm

Ah yes, the leak of the day. Which brings us back to the fact that the US was (apparently) considering murdering innocent journalists who were not ‘on message’ and that the UK are prosecuting someone under the Official Secrets Act who thought that this news might be of interest to the British people.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/11/25/253.html

According to Juan Cole:

‘The US military bombed the Kabul offices of Aljazeera in mid-November, 2001.

The US military hit the Aljazeerah offices in Baghdad on the 9th of April, 2003, a year Bush’s conversation with Blair. That attack killed journalist Tarek Ayoub, who had a 3 year old daughter.’

52

Doctor Slack 11.24.05 at 7:00 pm

Soru: If the US left…

Can you define “US left” for me? I’m curious as to what you’re mentally picturing when you type those words.

…were to stick to the argument ‘Bush is being too cautious or insincere in democracy promotion’, then, right or wrong, it would be a force for good.

You seem to think “cautious” and “insincere” are interchangeable here. Suppose I think someone is “insincere” about doing something (or incompetent at it, or both). Why would I want to criticize them for then being too cautious to engage in this endeavour they’re unsuited for?

… it so often alternates that with the opposite message, that ‘democracy is not capable of being part of a real-world solution for the problems of Iraq’, or ‘any country that receives US aid cannot be a meaningful democracy’.

You don’t think it’s possible to regard “democratization” as impracticable in certain contexts, and regard the people promoting it as insincere and/or unlikely to be able to actually implement it when they claim they can? Because there’s no necessary contradiction there. (I, for one, have no problem regarding the Bushites as unsuited to the project of democratization — through lack of both sincerity and competence — and with seeing the state of affairs in the ME as unsuited even to such a project undertaken by better candidates. Is your imagination so limited that you really can’t grok such a position deriving from anything other than Buchananite isolationism and Islamophobia?)

You don’t seem to have thought this through, which makes this attempt at caricature:

Presumably, this is all because you hear isolationatists [yadda yadda yadda]

… more than a bit rich. Shall we go ahead and presume that your antipathy to talk of withdrawal from Iraq is “all because you hear” a bunch of racists talk about it? How hard do you really think it would be for me to unearth five different warbloggers who support continued war because of Islamophobia and outright antipathy to Iraqis?

53

brendan 11.24.05 at 7:15 pm

Incidentally looking over my post above: ‘There has been no change in US stragegy: nor will there be, until the people of the US achieve democracy… ‘ Should of course read ‘There has been no change in US strategy: nor will there be, until the people of the Middle East achieve democracy against US wishes. ‘

Although some people might argue that the original mistake might contain a hidden truth.

54

soru 11.25.05 at 7:04 am

Can you define “US left” for me?

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say ‘if a US left existed’, if there was something other than a big fat hole between people who wish McCain was on their team, and students and entertainers indulging in the political equivalent of death metal.

You seem to think “cautious” and “insincere” are interchangeable here.

The word used was ‘or’. But, to clarify, those are two _different_ criticisms that both could be made while retaining the view of democracy as a good thing, a solution and not an indulgence.

In fact, the two criticisms are largely incompatible, as is is hardly wise to urge someone you think is incompetent to take bolder risks.

A better president could have won the war earlier, more thoroughly and at lower cost, lending more weight to american diplomacy and less resentment of it. UN approval, extra European peacekeepers, no Fallujah, Abu Graib seen as an anomaly not part of a pattern, the list goes on.

Then maybe that better president could have been bolder.


Is your imagination so limited that you really can’t grok such a position deriving from anything other than Buchananite isolationism and Islamophobia

In the specific context of Iraq, yes. I suppose someone could be unaware of Iraqi literacy and urbanisation rates, the degree of monetarisation of the economy, or the expressed opinions of Iraqis towards democracy, and that would be no better or worse than other forms of ignorance.

But, once informed of those, to persist in the view that democracy is the wrong form of government for Iraq is to think that Iraqis are genetically, religiously or culturally unsuited to that form of government, and that is a sentiment that is most fully expressed by Buchanan and the Islamophobes.

soru

55

abb1 11.25.05 at 7:18 am

What exactly is ‘democracy’? Is Iran democracy? Is the US democracy? Is the UK democracy? How do you define what is democracy and what isn’t?

56

soru 11.25.05 at 8:24 am

What exactly is ‘democracy’? Is Iran democracy? Is the US democracy? Is the UK democracy? How do you define what is democracy and what isn’t

My point illustrated.

How can someone (even a headbanger like abb1) claim to be progressive, without knowing the answers to those questions, without understanding the difference in the daily lives of people under a true dictatorship, a repressive society with some freedoms like Iran, and a democracy?

Only the abscence of a genuine set of progressive voices in the US, instead of mere reaction to a right-wing agenda, can explain that.

soru

57

abb1 11.25.05 at 9:08 am

Well, since you’re such a democracy enthusiast, you should be able to explain why, for example, the country with elected parliament and the Head of State called ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ is nothing like the country with elected parliament and the Head of State called ‘Ali Khamenei’. If you can’t, I have to conclude that you’re just bullshitting. Are you using the word ‘democracy’ as the antonym for ‘repressive society’ or something?

58

soru 11.25.05 at 10:48 am

the country with elected parliament and the Head of State called ‘Queen Elizabeth II’

Do you similarly think an empire is a country ruled by an Emperor, so ‘anti-imperialism’ means opposition to the foreign policy of Japan?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy is a basic introduction to the topic.

soru

59

abb1 11.25.05 at 11:08 am

Thanks. Your link has this:

Free elections alone are not sufficient for a country to become a true democracy; the culture of the country’s political institutions and civil service must also change. This is an especially difficult cultural shift to achieve in nations where transitions of power have historically taken place through violence. There are various examples (i.e., Revolutionary France, modern Uganda and Iran) of countries that were able to sustain democracy only in limited form until wider cultural changes occurred to allow true majority rule.

Also this:

Democracy, and especially liberal democracy, necessarily assumes a sense of shared values in the demos (otherwise political legitimacy will fail). In other words, it assumes that the demos is in fact a unit. For historical reasons, many states lack the cultural and ethnic unity of the ideal nation-state.

You may want to read it too.

60

soru 11.25.05 at 12:03 pm

Good, now you are an informed democracy-skeptic.

That is progress, of a kind.

soru

61

Doctor Slack 11.25.05 at 12:26 pm

to persist in the view that democracy is the wrong form of government for Iraq is to think that Iraqis are genetically, religiously or culturally unsuited to that form of government

I didn’t say “democracy is the wrong form of government,” I said the ME is unsuited to the process of “democratization” by an external power. Do you understand the difference?

62

abb1 11.25.05 at 1:09 pm

I don’t know if I’m a skeptic; more like an agnostic in this case.

63

brendan 11.25.05 at 2:21 pm

I should point out one of the most irritating aspect of the ‘pro-invasion left’ (I am itching for December 15th so I can start calling them the pro-occupation left), is that they genuinely do not seem to understand the nature of the charges laid against them. I thought I made it very clear above that my charge against Bush, Hitchens, Harry’s Place et al, was that they are NOT in fact in favour of democracy in the Middle East (and I might add, in Hitchens case, seem to be increasingly sceptical about democracy elsewhere: in Central and South America for example). And I thought this point was accepted.

But here we go again, and (implicitly) we on the anti-war side are accused of fellow travelling with isolationists, racists (the Iraqis are biologically ill-equipped for democracy), Imperialists etc.

Just to clarify. I am arguing that (as Nick Cohen, of all people, pointed out at the time) that incredibly late in the day, perhaps as late as 2002, the plan WAS to get rid of Saddam and then install a new pro-American dictator. Why was this plan dropped? Simply: because it was obvious by 2003 that they simply wouldn’t get away with it. So then the plan shifted to another template, a template based, let’s not forget on precisely what happened the last time .

That is, the plan was for a ‘controlled democracy’ based exactly on what the British did to Iraq the last time.

Given that this is the case, if the pro-invasion left insist on parallels with world war 2, perhaps they should concentrate on the time in world war 2 when the British, you know, like, actually invaded Iraq? Where: ‘ the current U.S. posture against Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden offers a reprise of Churchill’s 1941 crusade against Rashid Ali and the Grand Mufti. Three fundamental arguments advanced to support the call for “regime change” in Iraq—the need to pre-empt Saddam Hussein before he acquires weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them; the requirement to strike a blow at terrorism; finally, a region that contains twenty per cent of the world’s oil supply must not be allowed to fall under the control of a demonic regime that will use those resources for malevolent purposes—mirror points made in a different but in many ways eerily similar historical context by Churchill over sixty years ago….’ with the result that : ‘Therefore, the prevailing historical verdict on Britain’s interaction with the Arab world during World War II is that, in its effort to preserve its political base through the invasions of Iraq and Persia, the exile of the Grand Mufti and sponsorship of Zionist counter-terror groups like the Haganah, and heavy handed tactics against the young King Farouk in Egypt, Britain fanned the flames of Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism that ultimately compromised its long term interests in the Middle East.’ (precisely what is happening now).

In any case. The Iraq that has been planned is clearly similar (to put it mildly) to the Iraq that existed in the 1930s until the 1958 coup.

It was the presence of British bases that showed that the British held the whip hand: hence the reason that discussion over whether the American bases currently being constructed in Iraq are to be permanent or not is not an academic point. Iraqis aren’t stupid, you know.

And incidentally, I don’t think Abb1’s point IS stupid. Was Iraq a democracy between 1932 and 1958? Well in some senses yes. It had a relatively free press. It had elections. The British could point to it and say: ‘ you see! we brought democracy!’ and doubtless imperialists like those at Harry’s Place nodded their heads and mumbled that this showed how our intentions were good.

Equally, looked at another way, it is clear that in some ways Iraq during this period was NOT a democracy, as the invasion of ’41 showed. Other indications of lack of freedom were the Baghdad Pact, and the fact that the Hashemite monarchy was British installed.

The Iraqis have been through this shit before, they know imperialism when they see it, and they aren’t going to let it happen again. That is why there will be no peace in Iraq till the bases go and until all the American imposed laws are repealed and anyone who says differently is living in a fantasy world…and…what was it….oh yes…..arguing that the Iraqis are ‘not ready’ for democracy.

64

soru 11.25.05 at 4:39 pm

Why was this plan dropped? Simply: because it was obvious by 2003 that they simply wouldn’t get away with it

That’s a curious way of looking at the issue – that the actual actors, the people on the ground who, in living their lives the way they do, make certain things impossible and others inevitable, are just objects and the only real actors are those in Washington, London, Moscow and Beijing moving pieces about in the global game of Risk.

Not one I share, to say the least.

Actual imperialism is, in 2005, one of those things that those ordinary people have made impossible. Given that, it’s about as valid a topic of worry as Godzilla attacking New York.

soru

65

brendan 11.25.05 at 5:32 pm

When I meant that ‘they wouldnt get away with it’, it should have been obvious in context, what I obviously meant is that ordinary people have made it impossible. Not that they won’t try: cf Venezuela. The problem is South American (and Iraqi) people just won’t take it any more, as you can see every day by turning on the news.

66

Dave 11.28.05 at 5:15 pm

As soon as Kosova achieves democracy they will want to secede from the Serbs and the US and the UK will never tolerate that (Kissingerean ‘realpolitik’….of the kind we don’t see any more, according to the pro-occupation Left). The current accords are an attempt to DENY Kosova democracy, whilst giving the appearance of it.

This assertion is completely without basis in fact. US policy has been to create an independent Kosovo/a client state. The Kosovars already have the dirtiest relationship of any US client state on the planet, with the US running several torture centers in Kosovo with full approval.

Comments on this entry are closed.