Sunday, January 14, 2007


A Fine Country You've Got There: It'd be a shame if anything were to happen to it

The new line from the Bush admin seems to be that Middle Eastern powers realize they face a grave threat from Iran, so they have every incentive to cooperate with us, e.g., on issues relating to Iraq. This might be an insightful observation, but, at least the way it's being presented, it sounds more like an old-fashioned insurance racket or good/cop bad cop scenario: pay your "insurance" and we'll protect you from Iran; cooperate with us good cops, and Iran won't bust you.

First, allow me to point out how bad it is, foreign policy-wise, that we can even be perceived as playing such a game. We liberals often tend to underestimate the degree to which the idealistic analyses of the neo-conservatives are often spot-on (too many of us fall into the same trap of mistaking some of the more idealistic analyses of the neo-cons for the "realism" for which these analyses provide a cover -- which is discarded whenever push comes to shove anyway -- into which supporters of the neo-cons fall whenever they criticize us as "realists" and wonder why we moonbats aren't more "idealistic" as is claimed is our wont), and the neo-cons are spot on about the "threat" democracy provides to Middle Eastern oligarchs in the Middle East. The problem is that Iran, while far from a liberal democratic republic, is a quasi-democracy (actually, substitute fundamentalist Protestant Christianity for fundamentalist 12er Shi'ite Islam, and Iran has the exact system of government the religious right proposes for the USA), and to the degree to which the neo-cons are right about Iran being a threat in the Middle East and about democracy being a threat to Middle Eastern oligarchy, Iran is at least partially a threat because it represents an example of a viable Islamic democracy (*) whose Islamic revolution may spread and undermine 'Shah's in Saudi Arabia, etc. So by even being perceived as playing a good cop to these oligarchs who fear democracy, the neo-cons are falling into precisely the trap they wanted to invade Iraq to avoid: being perceived as anti-democracy. In general, whether it's our actions in the Middle East or our support of "free trade" neo-colonialism, "they hate us", not because of our freedoms, but because we actively oppose their freedoms.

Of course, if we are indeed playing such a game, that's even worse, 'cause it might be the case that Iran is in on that game. And for those who think it's unreasonable that we would be drumming to fight a war against Iran all the while we're playing footsy with them under the table to run an insurance racket in the Middle East, consider a few things:

(1) We were shipping people off to Syria to be tortured (and thus playing footsy with them under the table) even as we were goading Israel to fight a proxy war with the Syrian and Iranian proxies of Hezbollah on our behalf (for those who, either anti-Semites hiding behind anti-Zionism or Jews who gloat over their supposed cleverness in getting the goyim to fight "our wars" for us, think Israel is using us as a tool in Iraq, consider how we, in fact under Bush & CO, have put Israel in harm's way to use it as a tool -- now is Bush really so good for Israel?). Even more to the point, given our control in Iraq, if Iran were arming Hezbollah, we not only would have known it, the US must have been allowing it to happen!

(2) During the Iran/Iraq war, some of the same people in charge at Bush & CO, were ostensibly supporting Iraq, at the time when Saddam Hussein was at his most genocidal period, even as we were, under the table, arming Iran.

(3) Certainly, Bush & CO has been very good for Iran. For example, under the Bush admin, the U.S. has removed enemies of Iran on both sides and has reversed our old policy of requiring Iran to stop supporting terrorist groups before we really engage with them and supplanted it with a policy that, since we are so afraid of Iranian nuclear capabilities (way to project an image of strength, Bush & CO! now every country will figure out that all they need to do is threaten to produce nukes and we'll role over for them ... OTOH, by invading Iraq, we sent a message that the threat has to be reasonable credible, otherwise, we'll just invade), we'll fully engage with them if only they'll not produce nukes.

So even as we may very well be moving to war with Iran, given the past history of the people in this admin, it may very well be the case that when they are sounding like we're trying to run an insurance scam to keep the Middle East on our side, they are not misstating or even bluffing but rather are Freudian slipping and giving away their real policies.

And if that's what's going on ... Wow! How did anyone think Bush & CO would keep us safe? From Iran/Contra to our de facto rewarding of Iran and Al Qaeda, it's clear that the so-called clever folks of Team B are either stupid or completely bonkers (how their helping of our enemies -- which is treason btw, and their defenders accuse us moonbats of treason? -- is not stupid but is in fact keeping us safe, at least in the short term, has been outlined across the more paranoid parts of left blogostan on many occasions).

* Indeed, the neo-cons in practice have severely underestimated the role of Islam, even if they keenly acknowledge in theory that role, as a popular mode of opposition to oligarchy in the Middle East: not only does Islam provide a Hallal, if you'll pardon the pun, way to oppose oligarchies, it also provides, as P.J. O'Rourke put it in describing the speed at which east Bengalis converted to Islam 1000 years ago, "equality before the law and a set of laws worth being equal before": while today's wanna-be Pauline conservatives dismiss the very idea of law as being an equalizer, the Judeo-Islamic tradition, which so greatly informed the very construction of our secular democracy (c.f. recent posts on this blog), views law as precisely that which allows us to be equal (before it).

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