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It's not love that makes the world go 'round...(2 posts)

It's not love that makes the world go 'round...Me Dot Org
Feb 26, 2003 3:07 PM
A lot of people have been asking why there are no anti-Saddam protests. It's a fair question.

Part of the answer lies in asking a question: If you feel that there should be anti-Saddam protests (and evidently a lot of people do) why don't you organize them?

I've observed that the political universe follows a simple law:

It's not love that makes the world go 'round, it's irritation.

People don't take to the streets until they have no other way of getting the attention of the powers that be.

When's the last time you saw a group of industrialists marching for relaxed pollution controls?

Where were the anti-Saddam protests in 1988, when Saddam gassed the Kurds? Back then, nobody cared. The U.S. was supplying Iraq with satellite intelligence and bomb damage assessment for their war against Iran. George Bush the Elder was so incensed by the use of chemical weapons that in 1989 he made Iraq the 9th largest recipient of U.S. agricultural credits in the world. We used Saddam as our proxy to fight Islamic Fundamentalism, just as we used an Islamic Fundamentalist named Osama Bin-Laden as our proxy against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Right now the United States has close with ties Pakistan. There has been more than a little speculation that Pakistan is trading nuclear material (or at least their technical knowledge on how to build enrichment machinery) with North Korea in exchange for expertise in building long-range missiles (so that Pakistan can threaten targets deeper in India).

But I doubt you'll see the Bush Administration labeling Pakistan as part of the "axis of evil" anytime soon.

Look at the difference between our response to Iraq and our response to North Korea. It is highly unlikely that Iraq has nuclear weapons at this time, yet we talk of invading. North Korea SAYS it has nuclear weapons, and so we provide public assurances to them that we will not invade. What message does this send to the world? If you build your nuclear weapons fast the U.S. won't invade you, which is precisely what Iran is doing.

To put it charitably, the United States seems to have a very selective sense of moral outrage.

But all of that doesn't change the nature of Saddam Hussein: a paranoid, sadistic fascist dictator. The people of Iraq have suffered greatly under his rule, and would certainly be better off without him. If the rest of the world were more united, I would support our effort at regime change, even though I do not believe he poses an immediate threat to the U.S.

But unfortunately for Bush, his effort to unite the world is remembered in the context of recent history. Just as new presidents must be judicious in their expenditure of political capital domestically, so must they be careful of shaping world opinion. In the first 100 days of his administration:

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Bush announced that he would start building a missile defense system, violating the ABM treaty signed with Russia.

Bush refused to resume talks with North Korea. North Korea promptly cancelled their talks with South Korea.

Bush said that the US would not fulfill its obligations under the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Bush withdrew from the UN Conference on Small Arms Proliferation, simultaneously gratifying gun manufacturers, terrorists and the NRA.

Bush withdrew funding for the United Nations Population fund. (The European Union stepped in with the money.)

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In short, Bush's actions were a dramatic break from the previous administration, and promised a unilateralist foreign policy. Yet now, Bush seems to be perplexed when the rest of the world doesn't automatically jump on his bandwagon.

If we go to war without the expressed consent of the U.N., I think that the backlash will ultimately make the United States less safe.

Perhaps some of the world still remembers the regime change we did next door in Iran. In 1953 the C.I.A. and British Intelligence in
...it's irritation (continued)Me Dot Org
Feb 26, 2003 3:16 PM
Perhaps some of the world still remembers the regime change we did next door in Iran. In 1953 the C.I.A. and British Intelligence initiated a plot to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, replacing him with the Shah, because Mossadegh wanted to nationalize the oil industry.

Our somewhat uneven support for Islamic democracy is perhaps best expressed by a protest sign I saw last week:

How did OUR oil get under THEIR land?

A lot of people feel that the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union was the invasion of Afghanistan. The United States will be running a 300 billion dollar deficit before any costs of war are included, thanks to the President's tax proposal. Empires destroy themselves with hubris and overreaching commitments. Believing that Iraq can be a democratic beachhead in the Middle East may be born out of idealism mixed with geological lust, but in reality I don't think it will work.

The future exists in a fog, and that is why we disagree about what it will be. I could be wrong, this war may turn out to greatly benefit both the Iraqis and Americans. But I wonder if George Bush is the world leader to do it.

My favorite anecdote about Bush is from Molly Ivans: When he ran for governor in 1998, his Spanish language campaign slogan was "Juntos podemos" - "Together we can". Unfortunately a Houston Chronicle typo changed it into "Juntos pedemos" - "Together we fart". It reminds me of Bush's foreign policy: it shows how a preoccupation with gas might be amusing, but it leaves others wondering what you are saying. It takes a particular genius to get people lining up to be human shields for Saddam Hussein.