Interesting article about middle-east motivations


I’m not sure I buy some of the stuff he postulates in the first few paragraphs, but there’s some interesting analysis of the administration’s long term goals later in the article. And given that the administration has publicly said it sees Iraq as the first stop towards spreading democracy in the middle east, I don’t think the article is totally off-base.

A democratic Iraq will also hasten the fall of the fundamentalist Shi’a mullahs in Iran, whose citizens are gradually adopting anti-fanatic, pro-Western sympathies. A democratized Iran would create a string of democratic, pro-Western governments (Turkey, Iraq, and Iran) stretching across the historical heartland of Islam. Without a hostile Iraq towering over it, Jordan’s pro-Western Hashemite monarchy would likely come into full bloom. Syria would be no more than a pale reminder of the bad old days. (If they made trouble, a U.S. invasion would take care of them, too.) And to the tiny Gulf emirates making hesitant steps toward democratization, the corrupt regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt would no longer look like examples of stability and strength in a benighted region, but holdouts against the democratic tide.

Credit is due – that’s definitely the best cautionary essay about the neocon vision that I’ve yet read.

If you’re game to read the very best rebuttal – by Fouad Ajami in Foreign Affairs – try this.

Hell, if it’s too much reading, just read the first couple of pages.

Thanks for the links. The first essay by Marshall made some good points. The second one, by Ajami, though, seemed out to lunch on a lot of points. I don’t want to go point-by-point, but some of the assumptions he makes are breathtaking. Such as when he boldly states that Iran wouldn’t be able to export the Shi’a revolution these days because it would “have no takers.” Huh? I guess the strong Hizballah presence in Israel is a mirage, then, and that the group isn’t currently establishing itself in South America, and that the Shi’a troops on the ground in Iraq right now are actually Jeffersonian democrats, and that the Shriners actually blew up that Jewish community centre in Argentina.

Problems between Arabs and Persians have existed since long before Saddam’s regime exploited them. It’s incredible that Ajami depicts this as some sort of propaganda, when anyone with half a clue knows that Sunnis and Shi’ites tend to consider one another heretics. Oh, and this paragraph is insane.

“A more likely outcome would be the rise to power of a different kind of Shiism: more at home in the secular world, granting the clerics a political and cultural role of their own while subordinating them to secular authorities, as is the case in Lebanon. In the scheme of historical development of the Shia tradition, the triumph of clerics has been a relatively recent phenomenon – more a feature of Iran since 1979 than of the Arab world.”

Shi’ism has always, always, always had a strong streak of revolutionary ideology to it. Revolting against the establishment is the reason for its very existence. Thinking that Shi’ite clerics would rush to embrace modernity makes no sense at all. The very notion of it seems absurd.

Marshall’s essay is very clairvoyant.

That a small group of aging men believes it has both the power and the aptitude to shape the world to their taste leaves me dumbfounded. Has history seen greater hubris since 1936?

The vision of the neocons is based on so many assumptions, so much optimism, I can call it nothing but naive. The rumours that Rumsfeld planned to conquer Iraq with no more than 80.000 men fits this picture of complete, utter overestimation of USA’s capabilities.

I strongly oppose the war and the narcism of the neocons, but if I had only the shadow of hope that their visions were realistically acheivable, I would support them, because like them I see fanatical islamism as a large danger. However, this problem cannot be solved by confrontation, but only by benevolence and self-criticism. Cynical xenophobes like Rumsfeld and Perle drove the world to the brink of destruction during the cold war, and now America is allowing them to do it again, by letting fear and hatred dominate their opinion again.

I believe that power-hungry communists drove the world to the brink of destruction in the Cold War, but this is only based on the collection of KGB histories and so on that I have. Sorry, no emotional hindsight rhetoric here. <shrug>

Yeah, as it turns out the communist leadership in the USSR were all peace-loving daisies who wanted nothing more than to hug bunnies and give Americans eskimo kisses.

And for a group who pushed us to the brink of destruction, the neocons managed to pull out a win without WWIII or a nuclear holocaust. But that doesn’t help the argument, does it?

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but if it hadn’t been for people like Kennedy who believed that talking with each other can solve problems, wouldn’t the hawks have closed their eyes, prayed for the best and pulled the trigger in 1962, just like they’re doing now? The world survived then because the Rumsfelds on both sides of the world didn’t have their way.

Ever time i see these “liberal” and “socialist” notions ascribed to hard core conservatives it cracks me up. Get a grip ppl.

Nezz is correct, the conservatives favored starting a war with the USSR at multiple points.

Jason is correct, the liberals sold our nuclear secrets to madmen like those in North Korea and China so they could have “power”.

And thats one of the uglier ethnocentric idiocies of the far right, Orientals are too simple to develop these things on their own. I imagine their just smart enough to do your lawn work though!

It’s ironic you posted about smarts and used “their” instead of “they’re”

And, btw, read up on your history books and you’ll discover they didn’t develop it on THEIR own. You can read, right?

I wish phpBB2 had a filter to suppress anonymous guests…

First allow me to thank you for not posting a reply which merely contained an exhortation to use a dictionary or an excerpt from a dictionary.

Second, I was countering the notion that “cynical xenophobes” drove the world to the brink of self-destruction by asserting that power-hungry communists nearly did so. So your reply, while not only over-generalizing but also retarded, failed to counter mine mostly because it had nothing to do with my reply to the previous poster but rather attempted to use sarcasm concerning communist leadership. I label it thus: strawman.