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"Central"

With all due respect, democracy has never been central to Bush's vision of the war in Iraq or of the war on terrorism. That's especially the case if what you want is for the president to talk about "democracy" rather than "freedom." Democracy has been central to other people's vision of why Bush is worth their support even though he displays know evidence of actually sharing their goals or actually having any ability to make them happen. "Freedom" to Bush seems to mean something between "anarchy" and "capitalism" and he's barely ever even tried to pretend that he had a great deal of concern for the establishment of properly functioning liberal-democracies in the Middle East. That's something a bunch of people decided to make up for him, and you really can't blame the president for becoming the focus of other people's wishful thinking.

UPDATE: Trolls please note that this is more a defense of Bush than an attack on him. The president was always extremely clear that he wanted to invade Iraq because the Baath regime (allegedly) posed a direct security threat to the United States. Since the failure to uncover WMD he's tended to emphasize the humanitarian elements of the war a bit more, but still never fails to cite the (alleged) direct security threat to the United States. And he really never emphasized democracy as opposed to freedom when waxing humanitarian. He named the thing "Operation Iraqi Freedom" after all. There's been an admirable consistency of purpose about all this, and if other people chose to attribute to him goals he never really claimed for himself and then become disappointed when he fails to follow through, that's much more the attributors' problem than the president's. I seem to recall Beinart having predicted just before the war that liberal hawks were going to wind up disappointed, and he was right. The shape of this particular river was always pretty clear.

September 1, 2004 | Permalink

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Your "case" is extraordinarily weak - bald assertions with no evidence whatsoever to back them up.

Posted by: Al | Sep 1, 2004 10:43:11 AM

THE DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN TAKEN OVER BY GIRLIE-MEN AND MANLY-GIRLS.

Arnold really hit the nail on the head at the RNC last night. The male principal is to overcome adversity through good cheer, strength, courage and direct action and the female principal is to overcome adversity by hiding, subterfuge and going along. Is there a better explanation of the differences in economic and foreign policy between Republicans and Democrats? Republicans celebrate success and Democrats celebrate victims.

I can think of no worse nightmare than to be the son of a Democrat, Feminist Manly-Girl. I’ve known some and they are not very impressive. Feminism, to the extent that it emasculates men and marginalizes the family is evil. These “families” produce SNAGS (Sensitive New Age Guys) who embody the female principal instead of the male principal.

Successful families have always required the complete attention of wives and mothers. The results of the farming out of this responsible by today’s GMs and MGs have had disastrous results. A whole generation of upper middle class men has been poisoned and has been taken out of the pool of men needed to defend the nation.

Luckily, at least half of American manhood is still manly. Unfortunately this important half tends to be on the less educated side. I have been fortunate in my life to have associated with very high level men, at an elite university and in various business settings, and regular working class men as a Land Surveyor, Merchant Seaman and as an enlisted man in the Navy. I’d go to war confidently with the latter and with much trepidation with the former.

As a deckhand on various freighters in the early 60s, I learned to admire and respect the unlicensed seaman who taught me the ropes and worked by my side. These great men, many of color, were brave, reliable and honest. As an enlisted man and Petty Officer in the Navy in the late 60s I was constantly impressed by the absolute quality of my enlisted shipmates in the Weapons Division who could easily have been fine officers had they had a little more advantage in their families.

I truly believe that the Pacifism of the ascendant wing of the Democratic Party is grounded ...

http://pep.typepad.com/public_enquiry_project/2004/09/the_democrats_h.html

Posted by: Adrian Spidle | Sep 1, 2004 10:49:08 AM

This seems to me more of a criticism of liberal hawks than George W. Bush. Consult the pre-9/11 record, and you have Bush with two convictionsmissle defense and tax cutsand a lot of frustrated would-be nation builders. 9/11 happens and the latter latch onto Bush's new war errands as the ticket to their own projects, and, well, we all see how that worked out.

Re: Al's comment, the proof is in the puddingBush had no fire for democracy before 9/11. At all. He scorned the nation-building projects that are currently frustrating him.

Posted by: Kriston | Sep 1, 2004 10:50:27 AM

"Your 'case' is extraordinarily weak - bald assertions with no evidence whatsoever to back them up."

Well, Al, for one thing, you might look at Matt's link.

For another thing, why were early regional elections cancelled by the CPA? For a third thing, why did the adminsitration repeatedly try to establish an uneelcted, supposedly pro-US stongman in power in Iraq, first Chalabi, and now Allawi?

And ultimately, Al, what if, as seems likely, the result of Iraqi democracy would be a regime hostile to the US and Israel? Are you willing to tolerate that?

No, Al, even you don't really want democracy in Iraq, much less GWB.

Posted by: rea | Sep 1, 2004 10:56:52 AM

Absolutely right Matt. Most repubs project their own views onto Bush, very few repubs can deal with the reality that Bush is completely devoid of belief in any idea. He is totally handled and reflects the views his handlers want him to project. Case in point the "soft ball game" that was staged with false players all wearing 43's on their backs. The reality of Bush Jr is much closer to the brattish nuances projected by his daughters, in their introduction of him.

Democracy was the last veil of decency the now defunct war faction used as a justification. Those "democracy" advocates are now under FBI investigation for espionage. Freidman saw the writing on the wall months ago. Iraq is in the middle of a civil war against US.

Al wise up. The repubs are a hollow image. Arnold's praising of Nixon says how out of touch they really are. The presentation of the twins in designer clothes, insulting their grand mother was the end of the road for the marketers. Fox's best defense was "BOY those twins are hot." Like that's a family value- lusting after the presidential daughters.

Laura's scripted, wooden performance reminds the audience how real, honest and vibrant Theresa Heniz Kerry is in comparison. Laura out right lied about her husband not wanting to go to war. Please! He made the call in Feb 2002, as quoted in Time Magazine. This convention is a crass show, that mocks the entire political process.

Posted by: patience | Sep 1, 2004 10:59:27 AM

I'm relatively new to this blog, and find it hard to understand why it attracts such a disproportionate number of angry trolls. Did Matt do something personally to you guys? Ruin the bell curve in class or something? Steal your girlfriends?

There was no talk of bringing "democracy" to Iraq before the invasion. Zip. Zero. Zilch. It was all "threats" and "disarmament" and "mushroom clouds." It's not mentioned in U.N. resolutions or in the congressional authorization. It was not a subject of debate on talk shows or mentioned in news conferences. Not until we were well inside the vacuum and anarchy that we'd created did this administration experience the "oh shit!" moment that inevitably comes with no planning, and decide that this endeavor needed a little something to pretty it up. It was about the same time that we didn't find skyscrapers made of WMD's in Baghdad as well.

In the immortal words of St. Paul, "talk of democracy covers a multitude of sins."

Posted by: Windhorse | Sep 1, 2004 10:59:47 AM

Windhorse,

Matt attracts trolls because he has developed into a well respected opinion maker. The trolls he attracts are specifically directed by their backers to try to the muddy the waters. Check out other top independent blogger sites and you will see some of the same trolls. These guys are uncanny in their persistence to try to sway the meta perspective of blogger readers. It would be nice if Matt got together with the Washington Monthly, Atrios, etc and created a collective fund to expose the fraud and malice behind these guys.

Last night several people planted a "Team Kerry is panicing" meme on several blog sites. These guys are anti-thetical to the whole new media operation. Ignore them.

Unreported by the left is the constant and contiual low level harassment truly independent voices have to deal with on day to day basis. Make no mistake these guys are not passionate individuals they are directed low level operatives. These guys are like the Swifties, just smaller moneyed.

Posted by: patience | Sep 1, 2004 11:08:34 AM

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.

Posted by: praktike | Sep 1, 2004 11:49:40 AM

"something between "anarchy" and "capitalism""
"becoming the focus of other people's wishful thinking." Well, Is this another Bush as liar post?

Ok. Bushco may want Allawi/Halliburton to control Iraq and Sadr may want a theocracy, but neither are at all likely to achieve their goals. I actually think a Kerry administration, being more open to a welfare-state model, would have more success in installing a strong man in Iraq. I have yet to hear opponents of the war tell me what Iraq would look like in ten years if we were to pull out in the next six months.

One of the existing conditions for my support of the war were the Kurds. After ten years of Kurdish independence, it will be very difficult to create any kind of unified Iraq that is not a representative system.

I look at eras like the Periclean Age, late Medieval Italy, the Hanseatic League, and ask why so often have periods of city-state anarchy included a social system of democracy or benign oligarchies? Does not the state monopoly on violence create the conditions necessary for tyranny? Have we reached a level of technology at which central state control, especially oppressive control, has become prohibitively expensive?

Somalia and Afghanistan quite frankly don't have sufficient resources to give the warlords a reason to create a central gov't. Iraq has oil. My prediction is for a central representative gov't providing national social services like electricity while armed city-state militias provide local security. This is not completely a callous experiment on poor Iraqis, since I believe such conditions existed to a degree under Saddam's rule, and are a deterministic outcome. And are pretty much an inevitability for the rest of us.

The reason for the nationstate is its monopoly on violence. The age of terrorism marks the end of its usefulness for that purpose, without a level of central control that is unacceptable. What replaces it is anybody's guess, though it is likely to be more violent and insecure.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 1, 2004 11:51:20 AM

Of course its easy to fault Bush on his implementation in Iraq, but to say he never cared about democracy at all seems belied by the facts.
The easiest, low-cost, option after the fall of Saddam would have been to turn de facto control over to a slightly purged Iraqi army with some sort of citizens council as a front. Everything in recent Iraqi history pointed to this option, and lots of realists here wanted something like it. Insead, the army was abolished, and the attempt was made to build an entirely new Iraqi state on liberal grounds. It may come to tears, but this wasn't the plan of an administration indifferent to Iraqi democracy, though it may have been the plan of an administration blind to local realities.

Posted by: rd | Sep 1, 2004 12:01:04 PM

Hi, Communist troll Al! Great to see you!

I'm still waiting to hear your explanation of your contempt for George Soros, a successful self-made businessman who contributed enormously to the fall of Cummunism. I understand why neo-fascists, post-communist dictators, LaRouchies, and antiSemites like Mahathir Muhammed hate Soros, by why does a good free-marketer like you?

Ladies and gentlemen of the thread, Al's style is dump-and-run -- he disappears when things get sticky. So I'm stalking the lame, silly son of a bitch.

Oh, and also -- a week or so ago certain unspecified missing military records of Kerry's were very important to you. Know which ones they are yet, or was that all just hot air?

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 1, 2004 12:13:15 PM

1) Can anyone come up with a plan for Iraq, and the means to implement that plan, that actually provides security for Iraqis, including preventing Sadr and the Sunnis from assassinating their rivals and enemies?

2) Isn't Israel currently using desperate and oppressive measures, including the physical isolation and separation of its populations, to cover the fact that neither Sharon or Arafat can actually provide security for their citizens?

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 1, 2004 12:16:55 PM

rd, Bush never event attempted the liberal democracy bit. He repeatedly rejected that, in favor of continued US controls, and rigged elections (US-chosen caucuses voting for US-approved candidates). While attempting to grab any businesses worth stealing, and using Iraqi oil money to fund everything.

Posted by: Barry | Sep 1, 2004 1:04:26 PM

Trolls please note that this is more a defense of Bush than an attack on him.


Um, I guess this is aimed at me?

And he really never emphasized democracy as opposed to freedom when waxing humanitarian.


Why should he? You write as though the terms are diametrically opposed, rather than being intertwined. Indeed, it seems to me that Matthew doesn't even really understand the linkages between the two. I mean, this sentence: "'Freedom' to Bush seems to mean something between 'anarchy' and 'capitalism' and he's barely ever even tried to pretend that he had a great deal of concern for the establishment of properly functioning liberal-democracies in the Middle East" is barely coherent, and (as I posted above) unsupported by anything in the way of evidence.

Let's face it, much as you on the left hate it, freedom AND democracy are coming to Iraq. We can see this simply from the conference a couple of weeks ago - the freedom of the delegates to speak their mind and make their case, and selection of officials broadly representative of the population of Iraq. I know, I know, the inevitable response to this from the left will be some idiotic post saying "it won't be a REAL democracy because of X or Y or Z" (fill in with whatever the objection du jour is - Sadr or US military presence or whatever). As if it doesn't count as a democracy unless the political institutions looks like Belgium's; as if the people of Iraq aren't free unless Iraqi society looks like France's.

So you can save the goalpost-moving exercise: it's dumb, and you should know better. The coming of freedom and democracy in Iraq is a process, and won't be achived for a while. That blindingly obvious fact doesn't undermine the case it was a process we needed to start and which were are doing a good job moving along.

Posted by: Al | Sep 1, 2004 1:41:14 PM

The trolls he attracts are specifically directed by their backers to try to the muddy the waters.


Uh oh. Looks like someone got a hold of Karl's memo to us!

Posted by: Al | Sep 1, 2004 1:45:08 PM

Of course its easy to fault Bush on his implementation in Iraq, but to say he never cared about democracy at all seems belied by the facts.
The easiest, low-cost, option after the fall of Saddam would have been to turn de facto control over to a slightly purged Iraqi army with some sort of citizens council as a front. Everything in recent Iraqi history pointed to this option, and lots of realists here wanted something like it.

The thing is, there's a difference between saying "Bush's plan for a post-Saddam Iraq was democratic" and "installing a democracy was a motivation for the war." The former is true but the latter is not necessarily so. If, say, Clinton had invaded Iraq (not that he ever would have), I'm sure his administration would've tried to create a democratic government there too.

Posted by: EH | Sep 1, 2004 2:58:26 PM

"So you can save the goalpost-moving exercise: it's dumb, and you should know better. The coming of freedom and democracy in Iraq is a process, and won't be achived for a while. That blindingly obvious fact doesn't undermine the case it was a process we needed to start and which were are doing a good job moving along."

Proof that there are many parallel earths connected only by the medium of the blogosphere.

On MY earth things don't seem to be going that well in Iraq. On MY earth the goalposts started out as inspections, and when those didn't yield any evidence of illegal arms the goalposts were moved to disarmament (logically), and then when a country with nothing to disarm itself of failed to do so the goalposts became righteous invasion. When no weapons were found to justify invasion then regime change became our "raison de move poste", and when knocking over other governments didn't poll so well with swing voters the goalposts became "bringing democracy to the Middle East." Phew! Hard to argue with that. Democracy is one of our favorite kinds of "-ocracies" in this country, second only to plut-ocracy.

Alas, you cannot force democracy on a culture. Period. And when the right gather in private they admit us much now, a la Daniel Pipes. Saying we can make the Iraqis grateful democratic citizens through our beneficent tutelage is just salve for the minds of idiots who can't think, so they will support the venture while we create another Saddam out of Allawi or someone else to protect our interests in the region and the next phase of the Project for the New American Century unfolds at the hands of our military might.

Posted by: Windhorse | Sep 1, 2004 4:08:20 PM

Proof that there are many parallel earths connected only by the medium of the blogosphere.


Yeah, probably the only thing in your post I agree with.


On MY earth things don't seem to be going that well in Iraq.

On MY earth things aren't going too badly. No civil war, no breakup of the country, progress toward democracy and freedom.


On MY earth the goalposts started out as inspections, and when those didn't yield any evidence of illegal arms the goalposts were moved to disarmament (logically), and then when a country with nothing to disarm itself of failed to do so the goalposts became righteous invasion.


On MY earth, it was up to Saddam to prove that he had disarmed, not up to us to prove that he hadn't. And when Saddam DIDN'T prove that, and when he WOULDN'T cooperate with his obligations, it was clear he didn't reach the exact goalposts we set forth for him.


When no weapons were found to justify invasion then regime change became our "raison de move poste", and when knocking over other governments didn't poll so well with swing voters the goalposts became "bringing democracy to the Middle East."

On MY earth, there were ALWAYS mutiple reasons for invasion.


Alas, you cannot force democracy on a culture.


On MY earth, we HAVE ALREADY forced democracy on Japan and Germany.


Saying we can make the Iraqis grateful democratic citizens through our beneficent tutelage is just salve for the minds of idiots who can't think, so they will support the venture while we create another Saddam out of Allawi or someone else to protect our interests in the region and the next phase of the Project for the New American Century unfolds at the hands of our military might.


On MY earth, there is overwhelming support for democracy among Iraqis. But my earth is evidenced only by every poll of Iraqis taken since the invasion. What's your earth evidenced by?

Posted by: Al | Sep 1, 2004 4:35:19 PM

On MY earth, there is overwhelming support for democracy among Iraqis. But my earth is evidenced only by every poll of Iraqis taken since the invasion. What's your earth evidenced by?

Posted by: Al

Way to go AL, YOU THE MAN.

Posted by: Adrian Spidle | Sep 1, 2004 4:48:15 PM

Interesting academic paper on democracy promotion: http://tinyurl.com/5d98y (pdf).

Quote: "The type of political system Washington will attempt to establish in Iraq has little to do with democracy and should not be referred to as such, as the terminology itself is ideological and intended to give an aura of legitimacy to US intervention. It does not involve power (cratos) of the people (demos), much less an end to class and foreign domination or to substantive inequality. This political system is more accurately termed polyarchy (a term I have borrowed from Robert Dahl and modified)—a system in which a small group actually rules on behalf of (transnational) capital and mass participation in decision-making is limited to choosing among competing elites in tightly controlled electoral processes.

US policymakers began to promote polyarchy in the 1980s and 1990s around the world through novel mechanisms of political intervention, abandoning the dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that they had relied on for much of the post WWII period to assure social control and political influence in the former colonial world. This shift in policy took place in the context of globalization and in response to the crisis of elite rule that had developed in much of the Third World in the 1970s. Behind the new policy was an effort to hijack and redirect mass democratization struggles, to undercut popular demands for more fundamental change in the social order, to help emerging transnationally-oriented elites secure state power through highly-contested transitions, and to use that power to integrate (or reintegrate) their countries into the new global capitalism."

Posted by: Dave | Sep 1, 2004 5:09:59 PM

Al: (And I don't call you troll. If you can make an rational argument, I want to hear it).

You speak of "moving the goalposts" regarding outcomes in Iraq. Of course you jest; this has been the Bush policy from the beginning. How's the search for WMD's going?

As for the evidence: you are seriously putting forth opinion polls in Iraq as your evidence. Iraq is in chaos with no central authority but an occupying army, and many cities given up to religious paramilitary thugs. Where is the evidence that democracy is coming? We will be lucky to have a democracy like Iran has (what, Iran's democracy not French enough for you?).

More likely the Kurds will refuse to share Kirkuk's oil wealth with the central government, and make trouble for Turkey. In the south, we will have a theocracy (that you and Bush will call a democracy) or we will have continued chaos. So far so bad.

Oh, yeah, meanwhile, Musharraf, who has suckered you and Bush, will continue hosting bin Laden. Yeah, right, he can't deliver bin Laden to us, but the Taliban could.

Posted by: epistemology | Sep 1, 2004 5:40:20 PM

Well Al, you've proven my thesis. On MY earth, my ultra-conservative friends (of which I have more than a few) spoke of only one reason ever to go into Iraq: WMD's. One in particular voice concern that we wouldn't find them, and that it would "look bad for Bush." Not one ever mentioned democracy or turtles or ice cream sundaes or any other reasons. So on that point our earths don't intersect enough to justify talking further.

Second, someone who doesn't possess illegal weapons cannot prove they have disarmed of them, by definition. The foray into Iraq just might have been the largest real world example illustrating the axiom that you can't prove a negative. And according to the weapons inspectors themselves, Saddam did cooperate. It's only because he did not produce the weapons that he did not have that he was accused of not cooperating, and Bush, not Saddam, pulled the weapons inspectors out. But apparently this did not happen on your earth.

If you're following Iraqi polls, then you perhaps have seen the poll prior to the handover where 98% or so want us out of their country. In a democracy, don't you think this unheard of political unanimity should be honored? Or how about the one where 70% said we invaded for the wrong reasons.

Further, if it's a democracy, then how come Paul Bremer single-handedly privatized it's energy companies, opened them up to total foreign ownership, converted them from a socialist to a capitalist economy, applied an income tax to them, exempted Americans from trial in their country..etc. You may want to read the 100 Orders as they are so modestly called. I don't recall the lengthy debate among Iraqis on implementing those particular changes.

If on your earth things are going so well there, perhaps you should volunteer for service and help democracy along. The contractor jobs pay very well, often six figures just for driving trucks. I guess it's because things are going so well there that they can afford it. Also, you could take the place of my next door neighbor who's in the military so he could return. He has spent eight months or so in the Iraq of my world, I think he'd rather come back, as the Iraq he sees isn't doing too well.

But, I'm sure that's just due to living in different worlds.

Posted by: Windhorse | Sep 1, 2004 5:43:52 PM

"US policymakers began to promote polyarchy in the 1980s and 1990s"

I liked your comment, Dave. Thought provoking. Is polyarchy-promotion a bad thing?

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 1, 2004 5:58:00 PM

I see that Al is adopting the above-the-battle pose, refusing to answer for dumb shit he said a week ago, just next week he'll expect us to have forgotten the dumb shit he says today. Dump and run.

Here's what he said (in response to the statement that "Soros earned his money"):

"Yeah - he earned it by bankrupting proverty-stricken countries. Soros takes from the extreme poor and gives to himself. Sounds like every limosine liberal I've ever heard of. Posted by: Al on August 23, 2004 at 8:48 PM |"

Links here and here.

Soros is an exemplary guy compared to the republican billionaires Scaife, and Moon but Al (along with a dozen cheap dictators and anti-Semites) believes that he has a reason to despise him.

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 1, 2004 6:35:42 PM

Al appears to have gone in search of a less astute audience. Good call, Al.

Posted by: epistemology | Sep 1, 2004 8:40:57 PM

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