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Be careful what you wish for...(8 posts)

Be careful what you wish for...Jon Billheimer
Apr 23, 2003 7:12 AM just might get it. I half-sarcastically suggested awhile back that Bush might get what he wants: a truly democratic, but dangerously anti-American government in Iraq. This morning there's a lead article on MSNBC about the strength and organization of anti-American Shiites in Iraq. U.S. officials are reportedly caught off guard by the strength and organization of the movement, fearing that they won't be able to prevent a pro-Iranian Shiite government from being formed. They're also surprised that Chalabi, a pro-American Shiite who hasn't lived in Iraq for 45 years, has little if any political base in the country.

What I find hard to believe is how top politicians and policymakers wouldn't know what any person-in-the-street would reasonably surmise by watching TV news and reading the papers. Are these people so disconnected from reality and blinded by their own wishful thinking that they fail to register what would be fairly common knowledge? Surely the American intelligence community knows better?!

I recall just after the Cuban missile crisis listening to a family friend who was an expert and scholar on Cuban literature and who had lived the better part of his life in Cuba. Sydney reported that prior to the Bay of Pigs he and other experts and scholars on Cuba had been interviewed at length by the CIA on the politics and conditions within Cuba. He said he and everyone else had told the CIA that the invasion would receive no popular support within the country and that public sentiment was overwhelmingly pro-Castro. The advice was, characteristically it seems, totally ignored.

Is this a persistent pattern in Washington? What will the U.S. do if this "war of liberation" spawns another anti-American, Islamist government? Or will it simply install at the point of a gun a pro-American puppet government regardless of the popular will in the country?
here's what we do, thenDougSloan
Apr 23, 2003 7:23 AM
We remove all weapons from the country, and prohibit them from acquiring more. Then, let them do whatever they want. Go ahead and kill each other off if they want.

I'll be flamed!Jon Billheimer
Apr 23, 2003 7:59 AM
Well, Doug, here goes. My intuitive leanings have always agreed with your viewpoint--seriously! But first we need to reduce or eliminate our dependence on middleastern oil. Once done, let them have their mob rule or whatever other form of political insanity they may choose. (Is that a libertarian viewpoint?)

Contrary to Czar's and some others' viewpoints about Arab/Islamic culture I don't think there's anything to particularly recommend about it. And trying to build coalitions with one group or another or to come to some sort of reasonable detente is, in my opinion, a nonstarter long term. However, in realpolitik terms I know this will never fly. The U.S. is way too entrenched in worldwide "command and control" mode, plus Israel has to be protected at all costs.
re: Be careful what you wish for...ryder1
Apr 23, 2003 7:32 AM
NPR also had a story about political parties popping up all over Bagdad. Organizations just scrawl the name of the party on a bedsheet and throw it up out front of some office they are using for a HQ. By far the most popular party is the Communist Party - the biggest party that existed in Iraq before SH.
Free elections aren't the most important thing.Spoke Wrench
Apr 23, 2003 8:14 AM
I think that the most important thing is the "Bill of Rights." It actually moderates the effect of free elections and limits that the majority of voters are allowed to impose over others. Over time, that concept has served us well.

We just recently, on this board, discussed a few free speech issues. People on both sides are frequently quick to advocate stiffling what some other Americans should be allowed to say or how they should be allowed to say it. I, on the other hand, feel that people who hold strongly felt opinions have an obligation to express them. It's what makes us different than the Germans were in 1938.
Interesting concept: The difference betweenOldEdScott
Apr 23, 2003 8:26 AM
freedom and democracy. It is possible to have freedom (of the sort outlined in the Bill of Rights) without having democracy (elected representative government). It is also possible to have democracy without freedom.

We tend to lump the two together, but they aren't the same thing. Happily, in America we have both.
good intentions aren't good enoughgtx
Apr 23, 2003 9:28 AM
and I'm not assuming Bush's intentions were "good" to begin with... I don't have any confidence that the administration has any idea of how to handle the situation in the Middle East. They've opened a big old can of worms. This thing could get ugly in so many different ways...
of course the administration is blamingrufus
Apr 23, 2003 10:10 AM
outside elements from iran stirring up anti-american opposition in iraq. i guess once we pimp-slap syria, we'll do the same to iran.

personally, i don't see us either leaving iraq, or installing a representative democracy in there any time soon.