Historians' Take on the News: 9-25-03 to 1-2-04
Tom Engelhardt: The Bush Team's Playing at War
Arnold Beichman: Anti-Semitism Is Global
The Pill Did Was Not Responsible for the Sexual Revolution
Correlli Barnett: The Terrorists Are Winning
Peter Maguire: The Myth of Nuremberg Is Warping the Debate About Saddam's Trial
Frederick W. Kagan: We Must Win in Iraq
Bernard Lewis: Our Enemies Fear Democracy Will Succeed in Iraq, Our Friends Fear It Won't
Juan Cole: Iraq's Christian Heritage
Juan Cole: Iraqis Should Be Leary About Putting Saddam on Trial in Iraq (And So Should We)
Juan Cole: How the Republican Party Coddled Saddam
Samantha Power: McNamara's Lessons
Jay Winik: Resistance in Iraq Will Continue
Martin Halpern: Japan Should Not Send Troops to Iraq
What the Vietnam War Tells Us About Iraq
Why We Have Wars
Juan Cole: On the Differences Between Cheney and Wolfowitz
Lisa Duggan: How Neoliberalism Has Helped Undermine the New Deal and the Great Society
Ruth Rosen: FDR Should Remain on the Dime
Niall Ferguson: Bush Can Have Both Guns and Butter (For Awhile)
It's Always Difficult to Convey What Is Really Happening in a War to the Folks on the Homefront
Arnold Beichman: The Necessity of Preemption
Thomas Powers: The Vanishing Case for War
Sept. 11, Like Pearl Harbor, Is Subject to Multiple Meanings
Juan Cole: W Sneaks into Iraq
Max Boot: Bush's Secret Trip to Baghdad Reminds Me of FDR's Trips to Meet Churchill
The Dutch Who Settled New York: The Un-Pilgrims
John Patrick Diggins: So the Republican Party Is to Be Trusted with National Security?
Tom Engelhardt: Bush's Trip to Baghdad Shows More Evidence of Imperial Folly
Paul Kennedy: Talk of an Exit Strategy Is a Mistake
Daniel Pipes: Finally We Are on a More Realistic Path in Iraq
Kevin Starr: Arnold Should Govern Like a Bi-Partisan Figure in the Mold of Hiram Johnson
Max Boot: We Are Repeating One of the Big Mistakes of Vietnam
Martin Kramer: Turn the Middle East Democratic? Forget It
Gabriel Kolko: Iraq Is Very Much Like Vietnam
An Interview with Victor Davis Hanson: Re. Iraq and Anti-Americanism
Robert Brent Toplin:"The Reagans": The Spirit of Censorship Lives
Michael Bellesiles: The Limits of Technology
Edmund Morris: Ronald Can't Be Hurt by a TV Movie
Jefferson Cowie: Howard Dean Was Right to Try to Get Back the Southern White Vote
Juan Cole: How Iraq Is Hurting Bush's Poll Numbers
Sam Tanenhaus: Is Richard Pipes the Godfather of the War on Terrorism?
Iraq: Lessons from Reconstruction
Nicolas Baverez: France Needs to Reform
Irfan Khawaja: On the Necessity of Getting Jews and Muslims to Acknowledge Hard Truths
Victory in Iraq, One Tribe at a Time
Arnold Beichman: Why I Miss the Cold War
Steven Weinberg: Why the Pentagon Failed to Prepare for Postwar Iraq
Rick Perlstein: How Joe Lieberman Could Ruin the Democrats' Chances
Richard Reeves: Bush Should Study Up on the History of the Philippines
James Miller: The Weather Underground, RIP?
Ann Applebaum: Germans as Victims ... Fallout from 9-11?
Mark Essig: Searching for More Humane Ways to Execute People
Confronting Our Eugenic Past and Genetic Future
Richard Wolin: Suicide Bombing Shouldn't Be Defended
Eric Alterman: Novak's No Journalist
Fouad Ajami: How Oil Changed the Politics of the Middle East
Juan Cole: Iraqi Shiites ... America's Would-Be Allies
Newspaper Editorial in Favor of Lamar Alexander's History Bill
Walter Russell Mead: Neocons' Niche in American History
David M. Kennedy: More Democracy in California Has Led to Chronic Chaos
Jonathan Coopersmith: We Must Finance this War
Michael Radu: Most Suicide Bombers Are Islamists
Joshua Brown: Is Bush Standing in Nixon's Shadow?
Francis Fukuyama: We Shouldn't Rush Reconstruction in Iraq
Niall Ferguson: An Empire, If You Can Keep It
David Brooks: The Presidency Wars
David Brooks: Colleges Slant Left
Bush's Manichean Approach
Gerald Posner: Conspiracy Theories and 9-11
Avi Shlaim: Arafat's Not the Obstacle to Peace, Sharon Is
Juan Cole: Bush's Hit List
Tom Engelhardt: The Bush Team's Playing at War (posted 1-2-04)
Tom Engelhardt, writing in www.tomdispatch.com (Jan. 2004):
[T]he neocon utopians who dreamed up our distinctly unpeaceful Pax Americana in deepest, darkest Washington and out of whole cloth seem to have imagined global military domination as something akin to the board game Risk. They too were, after a fashion, Risk managers, seeing themselves rolling the dice for little weapons icons (most of which they controlled), oil-well icons (which they wanted) and strategic-country icons (which they needed). They were consummate game players. It just so happens our planet isn't a two-dimensional gameboard, but a confusing, bloody, resistant, complex place that exists in at least three dimensions, all unexpected.
I mean if you think I'm kidding -- about children playing games -- just remember that we have a President who, according to the Washington Post 's Bob Woodward, keeps a"scorecard" in his desk drawer with the names/faces and personality sketches of al Qaeda adversaries (and assumedly Saddam) and then X's them out as they're brought in"dead or alive." Think tic-tac-toe here.
The president and his men, in short, have been living in a fantasy world that makes The Lord of the Rings look like an exercise in reality. Even before the Iraq war, this was worrisome to the adults who had to deal with them. This is why there was so much opposition within the top ranks of the military before the war; this was why there was no Pentagon planning whatsoever for the post-war moment (hey, you've just won the Iraq card in your game, now you fortify and move on); this was why, for instance, General Anthony Zinni, Vietnam veteran and former CentCom commander, who endorsed young George in the 2000 race, went into opposition to the administration; this is why a seething"intelligence community" has been in near revolt after watching our fantasists rejigger"intelligence" to make their"turn" come out right; this is why our great"adventure" in the Middle East pitched over into the nearest ditch.
2004 should be a fierce holding action for them. The question is -- as with Richard Nixon in 1972 -- can they make it through to November before the seams start to tear. They might be able to. But here's the thing: Sooner or later, the children will leave the stage and some set of adults will have to start picking up the pieces. If the 2004 election is theirs, however… well, sometimes there are just things, our planet included, too broken to fix.
Arnold Beichman: Anti-Semitism Is Global (posted 12-31-03)
Arnold Beichman, writing in the Washington Times (Dec. 31, 2003):
I wonder why the thesis is rarely examined publicly that the Palestinians will never never never never never never never be allowed to make peace with Israel even if the Palestinians wanted to. Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Hezbollah and free-lance terrorists won't allow it to happen because they believe victory is at hand. The reason this thesis is not on anybody's public agenda is that were it considered a reality it would mean recognizing the futility of Oslo-Camp David-shuttle diplomacy.
To operate from such an approach would mean accepting that peace and stability in the area is inconceivable. I believe that Israel could close down all the settlements, home to 220,000 Jews, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and still the three-year Palestinian uprising would continue and intensify. Why? Because the PLO regards Israel as the Settlement, which has to be "relocated," as the PLO constitution has it, right into the Mediterranean Sea.
And the PLO's dedication to terrorism is fully supported by its neighbors. Their revolting propaganda, directed at their Arab citizenry and future generations of suicide bombers, underscores that belief. I have seen translations of schoolbooks used by Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian students. The books are anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli tracts. I have just seen on Syrian TV a horrible movie showing Arab actors costumed as bearded, nightmarish rabbis wielding butcher knives as they slash the throat of a Syrian Christian boy lashed on a gurney in order to drench matzoh flour in Christian blood. In other words, upcoming generations are being trained as future guerrilla warriors against Israel. I have seen translations of Friday mosque sermons that could easily compete with the worst obscenities of Julius Streicher's Nazi newspaper, Der Steurmer.
The latest piece of evidence of the unwillingness of the Palestinians to consider a peaceful settlement with Israel is what happened a few days ago to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher when he came to pray at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque. He was pelted with the shoes of his co-religionists and had to be dragged out by his bodyguards and hospitalized. His crime? At Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's direction Mr. Maher had met with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, to see if the so-called peace process could be revivified. The attack was a warning to Mr. Maher: shoes today, bullets next time. It was a reminder of the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed an accord with Israel in 1979. The PLO will not allow the intifada, which began in October 2000, to end. Oh yes, I forgot to mention: Mr. Arafat criticized the shoe-pelters.
Why should the Palestinians give up hope and make peace where anti-Semitism has seen its biggest growth since the Hitler era, not just among skinheads but also among "the best people?" I'm thinking of those who use Israel as their cover for anti-Semitism, as the French ambassador to Britain did a few weeks ago. Why should the Palestinians give up hope when Matahir Mohammed at an international conference talks about Jewish control of the world and there is applause? Or when the best-selling book in Egypt is the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a century-old forgery created in the tsarist era by the Russian gendarmerie?
The real problem for Israel is not that the Palestinians will not or cannot make peace with Israel but that a world of otherwise intelligent, literate people will not make peace with an entity called "the Jews."
The Pill Did Was Not Responsible for the Sexual Revolution (posted 12-30-03)
Joshua M. Zeitz, lecturer in history at Cambridge University, writing in the NYT (Dec. 27, 2003):
Opponents of the emergency contraceptive, known as Plan B, say they are concerned that among other things, widening access to the morning-after pill will encourage sexual promiscuity, particularly among young people. It was this apprehension that led Dr. W. David Hager of the University of Kentucky to join three other committee members in voting against the recommendation. Dr. Hager said he worried that Plan B was no less revolutionary than the birth control pill, which he claims ushered in"a new day and age for the expression of sexuality among young people."
Dr. Hager's argument is a common one. Legalized by the F.D.A. in 1960,"the pill" has been widely described as starting a revolution in sexuality and morals. But that is based on a misunderstanding of the history of America's sexual revolution and the pill's role in it.
Before 1960, the story goes, the natural constraints of human biology held Americans to strict standards of sexual discipline; after 1960, and after the pill, Americans threw off the shackles (or, depending on one's political perspective, the civilizing influence) of sexual propriety. Ever since, we've been either slouching toward Gomorrah or, as Clare Boothe Luce once famously announced, living in an age when the"modern woman is at last free as a man is free, to dispose of her own body, to earn her living, to pursue the improvement of her mind, to try a successful career."
That's a lot of power for one little pill. In truth, this narrative is flawed. Though the pill surely made contraception easier, and while it gave women more power and responsibility in family planning, it hardly created a sexual revolution. American sexual habits had been changing long before the pill found its way onto the market. Early sex surveys revealed that about half of all women who came of age in the 1920's admitted to engaging in premarital sex (defined as coitus), a figure that held steady for women in later decades.
Americans were also practicing birth control long before the pill. As early as 1938 a poll commissioned by The Ladies' Home Journal found that roughly four of every five women approved of using birth control. Just over two decades later, on the eve of the pill's legalization, 80 percent of white women and 60 percent of nonwhite women reported practicing some form of family planning.
Even the heightened sexual permissiveness of the 1960's can't be attributed to the pill. Throughout the better part of the decade doctors generally prescribed the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, only for married women, who made up the drug's largest market share in its early years. As late as 1971 only 15 percent of unmarried women age 15 to 19 used the pill. Even in recent times, only about 23 percent of women age 15 to 24 report using it.
The pill, then, did not create America's sexual revolution as much as it accelerated it. And that revolution had been a long time in the making.
Over the course of the 19th century the average number of children born to married couples dropped to about four from about seven. Americans probably weren't having less sex. Instead, couples — particularly those in the growing middle class, whose families no longer required legions of children to work on the farm — were practicing birth control. They were coming to view sex as an activity that wasn't merely procreative, but also central to pleasurable and loving marriages.
In the early 20th century many Americans began experimenting with sex outside of matrimony — partly because they could. By the 1920's a majority of Americans lived in urban areas where they enjoyed greater anonymity and social freedom. Meanwhile, a growing leisure culture provided a host of places — from dance halls to movie theaters — where men and women could meet.
Correlli Barnett: The Terrorists Are Winning (posted 12-30-03)
Correlli Barnett, writing in the Spectator (Dec. 13, 2003):
Last month, the sixth since President Bush proclaimed ‘Mission Accomplished' in Iraq, proved the worst so far in terms of American and ‘coalition' body bags: 81 in all. November was also marked by the bombing of a residential quarter in Riyadh, and by the four Istanbul car-bombs. In ironic contrast, this was the month dignified with President Bush's state visit to Britain, complete with his and Blair's defiant rhetoric about defeating ‘global terror'. All in all, now is surely a good time coolly to re-assess the state of play in this so-called ‘war on terrorism'.
First of all, we have to clear our minds of moralising political cant and media clichés. Thus it is misleading to talk of a ‘war on terrorism', let alone a ‘war on global terrorism'. ‘Terrorism' is a phenomenon, just as is war in the conventional sense. But you cannot in logic wage war against a phenomenon, only against a specific enemy. It is therefore as meaningless to speak of ‘a war on terrorism' as it would be to speak of a ‘war on war'. Today, then, America is combating not ‘terrorism' but a specific terrorist network, al-Qa'eda.
What's more, terrorist campaigns, whether conducted by al-Qa'eda, the IRA or ETA, are not at all irrational expressions of hatred, let alone manifestations of ‘evil' to be denounced from political pulpits, but instead are entirely rational in purpose and conduct. To adapt a well-known dictum of Clausewitz about conventional war, terrorism of any brand is a continuation of politics by other means. Al-Qa'eda's own political aim has been proclaimed by Osama bin Laden: to expel American military forces, bases and business corporations from Arab or Islamic soil, along with ‘corrupt' Western cultural influences. Furthermore, to adapt a second of Clausewitz's dicta about conventional war, terrorism is an act of violence intended to impose the terrorists' political will on their enemy.
The question for us today is this: which side is at present imposing its will on the enemy — the United States or al-Qa'eda? Which side enjoys the initiative? Objective strategic analysis can return only one answer: it is al-Qa'eda. ...
The truth is that the two military occupations (and especially that of Iraq) have simply opened up long American flanks vulnerable to increasing guerrilla attack: a classic case of strategic overextension. In Iraq, moreover, Washington has brought about the linkage between al-Qa'eda and Saddam's men which, despite Washington's claims at the time, never existed before the war. Major American combat divisions — airborne, armoured and infantry — are now tied down in Iraq in peace-enforcement operations, for which they have not been trained and wherein they are clearly floundering (viz, the random blasting of firepower in all directions when ambushed in Samarra the other week). These field divisions are of course no longer available for deployment elsewhere in the world. Result: the army of the world's single hyperpower is now seriously overstretched in terms of personnel, with reservists and National Guardsmen having to be posted to Iraq.
What is more, al-Qa'eda also holds the psychological initiative. By its acts of terror, it provokes fresh outbursts of grief and anger in the West (cf. the reaction to the Istanbul attacks) and a political response of windy rhetoric (cf. Blair and Bush at their joint press conference in London). But grief, anger and windy rhetoric are poor guides to shrewd strategy, as the ‘coalition' entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq already go to demonstrate. As also demonstrated by these entanglements, an equally poor guide to strategy is the romantic vision of ‘neocon' ideologues in Washington like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz who want to revolutionise the entire Middle East, even the whole world, into ‘democracies'.
Peter Maguire: The Myth of Nuremberg Is Warping the Debate About Saddam's Trial (posted 12-30-03)
Peter Maguire, who has taught the laws of war at Columbia University and Bard College, is author of Law and War; writing in Newsday (Dec. 28, 2003):
The captured Iraqi leader is the most significant single war-crimes defendant since Herman Goering took the stand at Nuremberg in 1946. Compared to Hussein's use of poison gas against Iranians and his own people, Slobodan Milosevic, now on trial in the Hague , is a relative small fry.
How ironic that the president who singlehandedly rolled back most of the international legal gains of the 1990s is now calling for a trial that will bear "international scrutiny." While a legitimate trial for Hussein could firmly establish his guilt in the eyes of his countrymen, any trial designed to "educate" the Iraqi people could quickly turn to farce as trials cannot be asked to teach historical lessons. Trials, at best, can only establish legal guilt or innocence.
The idea that war-crimes trials can "re-educate" societies is based upon the assumption that the Nuremberg trials did more than punish the guilty and exonerate the innocent - that they also transformed Nazis into law-abiding democrats. Neither assumption stands up to the analysis of a new generation of scholars. German historian J"rg Friedrich contends that the Nuremberg trials caused many to embrace their fallen leaders: "Yet although their guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the public simply chose not to believe it. The wedge of criminal guilt that was meant to be a wedge between the public and the defendants turned out to form a link between them."
Frederick W. Kagan: We Must Win in Iraq (posted 12-30-03)
Frederick W. Kagan, the military historian, writing in the LAT (Dec. 28, 2003):
The capture of Saddam Hussein could be a turning point in the U.S. war on terrorism. Properly handled, it may restore momentum to flagging U.S. efforts to establish a stable democracy in Iraq . In addition, a Hussein trial might end, once and for all, the divisive and enervating argument over whether the war was justified in the first place. Above all, Hussein's capture and possible trial might become a new symbol of hope throughout the Middle East , hope that tyranny ultimately fails. Much, however, depends on how the U.S. moves from here.
One of the weapons in Al Qaeda's arsenal is the widespread feeling in the Muslim world that its rulers are corrupt and tyrannical. The effective disenfranchisement of most Muslims living in "managed democracies" -- or overt oligarchies or monarchies -- creates an attentive audience for Osama bin Laden's calls for jihad. One of Bin Laden's reasons for attacking the United States is its continuing support for such regimes. It isn't primarily a struggle about the distribution of wealth. There are, after all, many countries in the world less well off than, say, Saudi Arabia . It's a struggle about the distribution of liberty.
All this makes Iraq central to the "war on terror." By invading the country, President Bush bet that he could destroy one of the standard-bearers of Arab tyranny and replace him with a stable democracy. There is virtually no historical precedent for this in the Muslim states of the Middle East . Most Muslims have been able to choose only among varieties of despotism, and Bin Laden's theocracy might seem no worse to them than most. This lack of political options is a key element of Bin Laden's appeal.
If the U.S. succeeds in establishing democracy in Iraq , the situation would be fundamentally altered. No longer could Bin Laden claim that democracy was unsuitable for Muslims and could not work within the Umma, as the Islamic world calls itself. He would be forced to compare his authoritarian Islamic creed not just with tyrants and corrupt despots but also with liberty. That would be a much more difficult task. A democratic Iraq would thus undermine one of Bin Laden's central arguments. Failure to establish a stable democracy in Iraq , on the other hand, would add new power to Bin Laden's claims and new momentum to his movement.
It is unfortunate that this larger issue in the war against terrorism has been obscured by the debate over the legitimacy of the war. Critics who have fixed on the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction as evidence of a Bush deception miss this point. Removing one of the worst regimes of all time, one that traded in death and torture, sends a strong signal to corrupt and authoritarian Arab and Muslim governments that reform may be the better part of wisdom. Reform is bad news for Bin Laden and his terrorist network.
With the stakes so high, failure in Iraq is unthinkable.
Bernard Lewis: Our Enemies Fear Democracy Will Succeed in Iraq, Our Friends Fear It Won't (posted 12-22-03)
Bernard Lewis, writing in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 22, 2003):
The American military intervention in Afghanistan and then in Iraq has had two declared objectives: the first and more immediate, to deter and defeat terrorism; the second, to bring freedom, sometimes called democracy, to the peoples of these countries and beyond.
The sponsors and organizers of terrorism are of two kinds, with very different purposes, even though they can and frequently do cooperate. One of the two is local or regional, and consists of survivors of the former Iraqi regime, encouraged and supported by the governments of other countries in the region that feel endangered by what might happen in Iraq. The aim of these groups is to protect -- or, in the case of Iraq, restore -- the tyrannies under which these countries have lived so long. If, as many urge, the Americans decide to abandon this costly and troublesome operation and simply go home, this might just possibly be enough to satisfy the local sponsors of terror. Some of them might even offer the resumption of what passes for friendly relations.
But there are others who would see the eviction of the Americans from Afghanistan and Iraq not as the end but as the beginning -- as a victory not in a war but in a battle, one step in a longer and wider war that must be pursued until the final and global victory.
The Americans too, have proclaimed a larger and longer purpose for their intervention; not just to defeat and end terrorism, but to give to the long-oppressed peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq and eventually other countries the opportunity to end the corrupt and oppressive regimes under which they have suffered for decades, and to restore or create a political order respected by and answerable to the people. This goal evokes strong support among many in the region. But, because of both past experience and current discourse, that support is understandably wary.
Certainly, the creation of a democracy in the Middle East will not be quick or easy, any more than it was in Europe or the Americas. There, too, it must come in gradual stages. Going too far, too fast would give an immediate advantage to those skilled in the arts of manipulation and of intimidation. As the example of Algeria demonstrates, it can even lead to a violent clash between the two.
The kind of dictatorship that exists in the Middle East today has to no small extent been the result of modernization, more specifically of European influence and example. This included the only European political model that really worked in the Middle East -- that of the one- party state, either in the Nazi or the communist version, which did not differ greatly from one another. In these systems, the party is not, as in the West, an organization for attracting votes and winning elections. It is part of the apparatus of government, particularly concerned with indoctrination and enforcement. The Baath Party has a double ancestry, both fascist and communist, and still represents both trends very well.
But beyond these there are older traditions, well represented in both the political literature and political experience of the Islamic Middle East: traditions of government under law, by consent, even by contract.
Changes in the spirit of these traditions would offer an opportunity to other versions of Islam besides the fanatical and intolerant creed of the terrorists. Though at present widely held and richly endowed, this version is far from representative of mainstream Islam through the centuries. The traditions of command and obedience are indeed deep-rooted, but there are other elements in Islamic tradition that could contribute to a more open and freer form of government: the rejection by the traditional jurists of despotic and arbitrary rule in favor of contract in the formation and consensus in the conduct of government; and their insistence that the mightiest of rulers, no less than the humblest of his servants, is bound by the law.
Another element is the acceptance, indeed, the requirement of tolerance, embodied in such dicta as the Quranic verse"there is no compulsion in religion," and the early tradition"diversity in my community is God's mercy." This is carried a step further in the Sufi ideal of dialogue between faiths in a common search for the fulfillment of shared aspirations.
The attempt to bring freedom to the Middle East evokes two fears: one in the U.S. and still more in Europe, that it will fail; and the other, among many of the present rulers of the region, that it will succeed.
Iraq's Christian Heritage (posted 12-25-03)
Juan Cole, writing on his blog (Dec. 25, 2003):
For the history of Iraqi Christianity click here. Iraqis believe Christianity was brought to what is now Iraq, an Aramaic-speaking area, around 35 AD by Thomas the doubting apostle (some say Peter also preached in Mesopotamia). The religions of Iraqis at that time included Babylonian-style polytheism and star worship (including astrology), Zoroastrianism from Iran, Greek Gnosticism and Judaism. In the theological disputes that developed from the 400s, most Iraqi Christians are believed by historians to have favored the Nestorian branch of Christianity, founded by Nestorius (d. 451). By the time of the Muslim Arab conquest of Iraq in the 600s AD, what is now Iraq had a significant Christian population. Over time most Iraqis gradually converted to Islam and adopted Arabic, and contrary to popular Western belief, the conversion was for the most part peaceful. From the 1400s some Iraqi Nestorians accepted overtures from Rome and acknowledged the pope, becoming Catholics. They were allowed to keep their Aramaic liturgy. These Catholic “Uniate” Iraqis became known as Chaldeans, and had their own patriarch. Over time they became the majority (now 80%). Those who remained outside Catholicism may not be exactly identified as Nestorians any more by this period, but had historical roots in that branch of Christianity, and were called Assyrians. In recent decades there has been a push to unify the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. Iraqi Christians probably amount to between 500,000 and 800,000 individuals, about 2 or 3 percent of Iraqis.
Juan Cole: Iraqis Should Be Leary About Putting Saddam on Trial in Iraq (And So Should We) (posted 12-22-03)
Historian Juan Cole, in the course of an interview published in the Ann Arbor News (Dec. 21, 2003)
Q: What concerns do you have about the suggestions of putting Saddam Hussein on trial?
A: There are several. The Bush administration and Iraqi interim Governing Council both seem to think it's a good idea to try him in Iraq, and I understand why. But one wonders at what cost this will come. A lot of Sunni Muslims in Iraq fear the fall of the government because it will place them in the vast minority to Shiites who were persecuted by Saddam.
Any trial is going to cover his acts of genocide against the Kurds in the late 1980s and Shiites following the first Gulf War of the early '90s. Spending months on these kind of investigations has the potential for provoking ethnic violence.
Q: What are other potential consequences of putting Saddam on trial?
A: I believe giving Saddam Hussein a stage or platform in Iraq through a trial is a bad idea because he's going to be defiant and still has Fedayeen and a loyal base active in the country. There also is the potential that Saddam may find ways to underline U.S. complicity in the atrocities, which could make it difficult to maintain support for the occupation forces.
Q: The atrocities you mentioned that are attributed to Saddam are what we know about. Is there a danger that such trials would reveal more that we don't know about?
A: Diplomatic historians say there are no secrets if you know where to look. We already know a great deal about the U.S. government's [complicity] with Saddam Hussein and his actions. There could be more.
Q: Would he focus on that compliance to mount a defense?
A: I don't know that he would. It certainly would hurt his stature in the Middle East and Arab world to make himself look like an agent of the CIA, so he may not want to. But when he can bring that information to light in self defense, I believe he could.
Q: International human rights organizations have been collecting data on Saddam's brutal regime for decades. With so much documentation, what kind of defense could he mount?
A: What we have seen in the cases of those dictators who have been tried for war crimes in the past is that they are impertinent. They blame subordinates, say things got out of hand and blame the victims. He's already been quoted as saying the bodies of those found in mass graves throughout the country belonged to thieves and traitors.
Q: Is it possible for him to get a fair trial?
A: That's another issue. One of the persons who is calling for a war crimes tribunal in Iraq is Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, current president of the interim Governing Council. Sixty-three members of his family were killed by Saddam Hussein. I'm willing to concede that the man is an upright man, but I don't know if saints exist to that extent in the world where he has no sense of vindictiveness about this. That's a problem that a lot of the people involved in this have talked about, and for those reasons I really think it is important that any trial occurs in The Hague.
Q: Are there other reasons why any trial should be conducted by the existing format of international war crimes tribunals?
A: There has never been such a tribunal in Iraq before. It's being created from scratch, most of the judges with long experience in Iraq are Baathists and there's no constitution in Iraq. Under what statutes can he be tried?
Q: Does it matter if he gets a fair trial?
A: I think it does matter. First, Saddam still has supporters, and to satisfy those supporters, it's important that any trial is conducted through a fair process. Otherwise, it could be construed that he was treated unfairly.
I also think it's important for Iraq. If there is going to be a new Iraq, it must be founded on the principles of law and fairness. It would not [. . .] bode well that the country's first act would be to railroad someone even as despised as Saddam Hussein.
Juan Cole, writing on his blog (Dec. 20, 2003):
Well, the Democratic Party seems too nice or inept to do anything with it, but as the Washington Post points out, the good folks at the National Security Archive are continuing to document the long history of Republican Party coddling of Saddam Hussein, and their hypocritical winking at his use of weapons of mass destruction in the 1980s.
The Archive incidentally shows that the Bechtel Corporation actively connived to subvert 1988 Congressional sanctions on Iraq for using weapons of mass destruction by seeking non-US subcontractors. Bechtel was awarded an Iraq reconstruction contract by US AID last spring worth at least $640 million. Yup, some American corporations have long been deeply concerned about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction and the moral evil of genocide.
It turns out that Don Rumsfeld actually went to Iraq twice, once in 1983, and again in 1984. The work Rumsfeld did in 1983 of beginning a rapprochement between Reagan and Saddam was detracted from by a strong State Department condemnation of Iraqi use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war. Schultz told Rumsfeld to explain to Saddam [warning: PDF] that the Reagan administration did not actually, really have any serious objections to, like, exterminating Iranian troops like cockroaches with poison gas. It was just a general, unspecific blanket condemnation of that sort of thing, you know, to keep up appearances. Sort of like when the US was against genocide in general but didn't really mind so much the one conducted in Indonesia against hundreds of thousands of leftists in 1965. So, Saddam should feel comfortable about Reagan's desire to continually improve bilateral Reagan-Saddam relations at a pace of Saddam's choosing, and not be put off by the unfortunate but necessary pro forma condemnations of him as a war criminal issued at silly old Foggy Bottom.
The document also reveals two other things on which the press hasn't widely remarked. George H. W. Bush was deeply involved in this Saddamist démarche, he was the one who extended an invitation to high Baathist official Tariq Aziz to come to Washington.
And, Schultz told both Rumsfeld and Saddam that the US was trying to curb weapons flows to Iran. Yet it is well known that Israel was supplying Iran with weaponry in return for Iranian oil. Only a little over a year later, Schultz double-crossed Saddam by getting on board with the Iran-Contra weapons exchange, which was suggested by the Israelis in the first place. The White House illegally sold Iran hundreds of powerful TOW anti-tank and HAWK anti-aircraft weapons [which Reagan came on television and told us were shoulder-launched weapons!], for use against Washington's newfound ally, the Iraqis, who were being assured that the US was trying hard to"prevent an Iranian victory . . ."
These weapons sales contravened US law, under which Iran was tagged as a terrorist nation. (Even today I can get into trouble for so much as editing a paper by an Iranian scholar for publication in a US scholarly journal, but it was all right for the Republicans and Neocons to send Khomeini 1000 TOWs!) Not only that, but Reagan's team then turned around and used the money garnered from these off-the-books sales to support the contra death squads in Nicaragua. In the US Constitution, how to spend government money is the purview of Congress, and Congress had told Reagan"no" on funding the death squads. So Reagan's people essentially stole weapons from the Pentagon storehouses, shipped them to Israel for transfer to Ayatollah Khomeini, and then took the ill gotten gains from fencing the stolen goods and gave them to nun-murderers in Latin America.
Here's the timeline:
July -- An Israeli official suggests a deal with Iran to then-national security adviser Robert McFarlane, saying the transfer of arms could lead to release of Americans being held hostage in Lebanon. McFarlane brings the message to President Reagan.
Aug. 30 -- The first planeload of U.S.-made weapons is sent from Israel to Tehran. Two weeks later the first American Hostage is released.
Dec. 5 -- Reagan secretly signs a presidential 'finding,' or authorization, describing the operation with Iran as an arms-for-hostages deal.
Jan. 17 -- Reagan signs a finding authorizing CIA participation in the sales and ordering the process kept secret from Congress.
April -- Then-White House aide Oliver North writes a memo outlining plans to use $12 million in profits from Iran arms sales for Contra aid. "
Where are they now?
George P. Shultz is the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was sworn in on July 16, 1982, as the sixtieth U.S. secretary of state and served until January 20, 1989. In January 1989, he rejoined Stanford University as the Jack Steele Parker Professor of International Economics at the Graduate School of Business and a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a member of the board of directors of Bechtel Group, Fremont Group, Gilead Sciences, and Charles Schwab & Co. He is chairman of the International Council of J. P. Morgan Chase and chairman of the Accenture Energy Advisory Board. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, on January 19, 1989. He also received the Seoul Peace Prize (1992), the Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service (2001), and the Reagan Distinguished American Award (2002).
Schultz strongly supported the war against Iraq, on the grounds that Saddam had used chemical weapons in the 1980s.
Elliot Abrams, a convicted criminal who lied to Congress about the shady goings-on in Central America and a long-time supporter of the far rightwing Likud Party, was appointed by W. as the National Security Council advisor for Arab-Israeli affairs. Perhaps it was Abrams who told W. that Ariel Sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, is"a man of peace."
Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense of the United States, and supported the war against Iraq, partially on the grounds that Saddam had used chemical weapons in the 1980s.
George H. W. Bush is the former president of the United States. His invitee, Tariq Aziz, is in a US prison at the Baghdad Airport.
Oliver North, a convicted criminal, has been given a cushy job on Fox television by its owner, eccentric far rightwing Australian billionnaire Rupert Murdoch.
Saddam Hussein is in a US prison at the Baghdad airport.
Ronald Reagan is being considered above criticism by the US Right, which pressured CBS to cancel a mini-series on his life that was anything less than absolutely adoring, and is now being proposed as a replacement on the US dime or 10 cent piece for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the defeater of the Axis.
Samantha Power: McNamara's Lessons (posted 12-16-03)
Samantha Power, writing in the NYT (Dec. 14, 2003):
SOMETIME in the mid-1960's, the Vietnam War became known as "McNamara's War." In the seven years Robert S. McNamara served as Secretary of Defense for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon. B. Johnson, the United States commitment in Vietnam soared in a soothingly gradual fashion from fewer than a thousand Americans to just under half a million. Mr. McNamara, in turn, went from being heralded as a whiz kid to being hounded as a war monger. In 1965, a Quaker protester set himself on fire below Mr. McNamara's Pentagon office window. In 1967, antiwar activists tried to burn down the his vacation home in Aspen, Colo. And in 1972, an artist who spotted him on a ferry tried to heave him into the Atlantic Ocean.
A quarter of a century later, Mr. McNamara broke his silence, publishing "In Retrospect," his best-selling memoir. He asked how he and his fellow leaders could have pushed for a war he at last acknowledged was "wrong, terribly wrong." But after the deaths of three million Vietnamese and more than 58,000 Americans, many saw Mr. McNamara's public reckoning as, at best, incommensurate with the carnage and at worst, dishonest and self-serving. In a stinging editorial in 1995, The New York Times dismissed his "prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late," contrasting the fates of the dead with that of Mr. McNamara, who, despite his torment, "got a sinecure at the World Bank and summers at the Vineyard."
The debate over Vietnam and the debate over Robert McNamara debates that overlap, but that over the years have grown distinct refuse to subside, partly because Mr. McNamara, now 87, refuses to go away. In "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara," opening Friday, Errol Morris, the ingenious Cambridge-based director of such documentaries as "The Thin Blue Line" and "Mr. Death," has given Mr. McNamara a big-screen chance to reflect upon a career of watching fallible human beings like himself make decisions that imperil or extinguish human lives.
While Mr. McNamara uses the film to propagate the "lessons" of his six decades in public life, Mr. Morris has another agenda: to raise questions that are moral, timeless and rarely broached with such subtlety. How do decent men commit or abet evil acts? And once they have done so, how should they interact with their victims, live with their consciences and pass along their insights? It is the indefatigable relevance of these questions that keep Americans at once enthralled and repelled by Robert S. McNamara. And it is the long-standing aversion of American decision-makers to address past mistakes that has helped undermine the American standing around the world and has hindered our ability to learn from history.
Jay Winik: Resistance in Iraq Will Continue (posted 12-16-03)
Jay Winik, writing in the NYT (Dec. 16, 2003):
[T]he stunning capture of Mr. Hussein, the symbolic leader of the resistance, is bound to be a serious blow to the guerrillas. But in spite of this remarkable turn of events, it would be a profound mistake for American leaders to believe the worst is over in Iraq....
At its essence, guerrilla warfare is how the weak make war against the strong. Insurrectionist, subversive and chaotic, its application is classic and surprisingly simple: concentrate strength against vulnerability. As most Americans know from the Vietnam experience, guerrilla warfare can work with frightening success.
But Vietnam is not the only template, and its "lessons" may be misleading. America is not the only nation that has been a victim of guerrilla conflict. An astounding number of other world powers, large and small, have been humbled by guerrilla war in the last century alone.
At the turn of the 20th century, the heavily outnumbered Boers in South Africa staved off the mightiest force in the globe, the British empire, for four long years. In the late 1950's and early 60's the Algerians used guerrilla tactics with devastating success against the far more powerful French. The Khmer Rouge employed them to come to power in Cambodia almost 30 years ago. And Palestinian forces have relied on these tactics for almost three decades against Israel.
Far from being simply a phenomenon of the most recent century, the pedigree of guerrilla warfare dates to the earliest days of human combat. Five hundred years before the coming of Jesus, the ceaseless harassment and lightening strikes of the nomadic Scythians blunted the best efforts by King Darius I of Persia to subdue them. In Spain in the second century B.C., the Romans suffered humiliating defeats and required several decades to surmount the tactics of the Lusitanians and Celtiberians. Later, in Wales, the conquering English endured some 200 years of acrimonious struggle before they prevailed. And Napoleon, of course, was forced to give up on the Iberian Peninsula only a few years after he occupied it.
In far too many guerrilla wars, the military balance becomes almost meaningless; more frightening than the actual casualties are the demoralization and exhaustion that regular armies feel, even against small numbers of terrorists and guerrillas. Deprived of the fruits of closure, of the legitimacy of victory, at what point does the occupier deem that the cruelties of a guerrilla war are no longer worth it? As a dispatch from North Africa to King Louis-Philippe of France in 1833 stated: "We have surpassed in barbarity the barbarians we came to civilize."
It is this grim specter, more than any other, that haunts the American experience in Iraq....
The best that American forces can now do and it is no small task is to provide breathing space for a viable Iraqi political process to take hold. Success in quelling this guerrilla war will depend less on the military than on politics and diplomacy. Success will come when the Iraqi people themselves, with American assistance, unite behind a new representative government and political pluralism. If they can, then over time the guerrillas will ultimately be reduced to rogue bandits.
Martin Halpern: Japan Should Not Send Troops to Iraq (posted 12-16-03)
Martin Halpern, writing in Japan Times (Dec. 13, 2003):
A recent New York Times carried the story that Japan will send 600 ground troops to southeastern Iraq. I read this news with sadness as I prepared to lead a discussion in my upper level class in 20th-century U.S. history on the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan's role as voice for peace and nuclear disarmament is at stake.
The New York Times account rightly stressed that the meaning of Japan's pacifist Constitution is also at stake. Does anyone believe that the so-called Self-Defense Forces are on anything other than a military mission and acting as a combat army when they carry antitank weapons and drive armored vehicles into a war zone?
The subject of the dropping of the bomb is a highly personal one for me. I was born on Aug. 9, 1945, the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. I developed an understanding as I grew up of the great wrong committed by my government, and traveled to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Museum when I was a Fulbright lecturer five years ago at Tohoku University.
The New York Times account emphasized that the peace Constitution was imposed by the U.S. on Japan, but it failed to note the strong desire of the Japanese people after the war to break with the militarism and aggression that had brought enormous harm and suffering to Japan's neighbors and disaster to Japan itself. I learned from my time in Japan that strong sentiments for peace and opposition against nuclear arms persist to this day.
Long a critic of the nuclear-arms race, I was struck on my visit to the Peace Museum by the documentation of the many times my government has threatened to use nuclear weapons and of the continuing advocacy of nuclear disarmament by the citizens and leaders of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At a time when a neoconservative clique seeking world hegemony plays a leading role in U.S. foreign policy formation, we hear U.S. President George W. Bush speaking frequently about the determination to stop other countries from obtaining nuclear weapons but not a word about taking steps toward nuclear disarmament called for in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Japan's antinuclear advocacy is needed now more than ever.
What the Vietnam War Tells Us About Iraq (posted 12-15-03) Henry Ryan Butterfield, a writer for the History News Service (Dec. 2003):
NOTE: This piece was distributed for non-exclusive use by the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events by setting these events in their historical contexts. The article may be republished as long as both the author and the History News Service are clearly credited.
Memories of the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s hover over our occupation of Iraq like sullen ghosts, calling out warnings to American policy makers.
President Bush obviously hears them, and he is determined that Iraq will not scar him as Vietnam did Presidents Johnson and Nixon. Above all, he doesn't want this crisis to turn him out of the White House as the Vietnam crisis turned out Johnson.
But for President Bush to escape Iraq undamaged will not be easy. His first priority must be to continue bringing U.S. troops home. But several months ago, just as they began returning, a guerrilla war erupted and, despite optimistic administration statements, shows no signs of abating. As in Southeast Asia decades ago, the casualty lists lengthen, and already many observers predict that more, rather than fewer, troops will be required to defeat the insurgents.
Meanwhile, American policy makers fear that the U.S. public has little stomach for much bloodletting in Iraq, a military occupation whose motives are being seriously questioned, just as were the motives for the Vietnam War. Then, widespread disbelief in their validity stimulated often violent antiwar protests. That could happen again if the occupation of Iraq leads America into another quagmire.
Americans had been led to believe that conquering Iraq would be easy, and indeed Saddam Hussein's regular military forces collapsed quickly enough. But the widespread Iraqi rejoicing over the Hussein's defeat that the Bush administration led Americans to expect never occurred. Nor have U.S. soldiers or those of America's allies been hailed as liberators and reformers any more than they were in Southeast Asia all those years ago.
Instead, they have encountered a nagging insurgency, reminiscent of the one that pulled us ever deeper into Vietnam's civil war. Another similarity may prove the most troublesome of all for President Bush. Citizen troops -- reservists and National Guard personnel -- form a significant share of America's forces in Iraq, and their number could grow if the United States increases its forces to contain the guerrillas. Already
citizen warriors and their families, who believe that prolonged active service is unjustified, have voiced their discontent.
The administration does not want their dissatisfaction to spread. As President Bush must know, similar resentment among citizens liable for military service during the Vietnam era fueled the revolt that drove President Johnson from office.
In short, just as the United States is about to enter a presidential election year, President Bush risks arousing opposition among voters because of unforeseen military problems in Iraq. To solve that dilemma he has undertaken three measures, starting with recruitment of Iraqis for reconstituted police and military forces. That effort, begun even before Hussein's fall, is intended to ease the U.S. security burden.
Washington attempted the same kind of program in Vietnam. It failed completely. The second measure calls for an Iraqi government to be created and functioning by the summer of 2004, a few months before the U.S. election.
But even if it takes office, that government could easily lack any real authority. It will be hastily created under American guidance in a country of great ethnic, tribal and religious divisions and currently in the midst of an armed rebellion against foreign occupiers and their Iraqi allies. If American forces leave before the country is stable, the new Iraqi government will almost certainly crumble.
Again, Vietnam provides a troubling precedent. There, we shored up a series of weak governments, the last of which, along with the local security forces we created, was overrun within two years of our departure.
The president's third measure could be the most effective. But so far it hasn't been given the energy it deserves by the administration. It calls for the United Nations, which Washington snubbed earlier in the Iraqi crisis, to endorse U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq. That endorsement could make the largely American-made regime more acceptable to Iraqis and others, including potential allies whose help we seek.
The U.S. mission to the UN has also begun exploring the possibility of UN assistance in rebuilding and administering Iraq. Until now, President Bush has shunned international administration there because it might require surrendering U.S. control, and that attitude in the White House may prevent meaningful international help now. Still, assistance from the UN would allow the United States to pull out of Iraq with its prestige intact, even while conditions remained chaotic, something neither Johnson nor Nixon managed to
do under similar circumstances in Vietnam. In today's Iraq, the UN would inherit the postwar mess while the United States took credit for toppling Hussein.
Invading Iraq was a dangerous and reckless undertaking. Analogies with the Vietnam War, while not exact, help highlight the perils of the Iraqi campaign for the United States. Today, most Americans would be glad just to have our troops come home. The trick is to get them out without seriously damaging either Iraq or American prestige and influence in the world.
Why We Have Wars (posted 12-12-03)
Peter Furtado, editor of History Today, writing in the Times Higher Education Supplement(Dec. 12, 2003):
Historians have always been fascinated by wars. Thucydides and Xenophon saw war as the result of political calculation and shifts in the balance of power, although both considered the wars they described as cultural clashes between two distinct and ultimately antagonistic world-views - to Thucydides between the democratic Athenians and the conservative and oligarchic Spartans; to Xenophon between the imperial, oriental tyrannical Persians and the federal, freedom-loving, nationalistic and decent Greeks.
To Roman historians Livy and Caesar, war was a natural function of the state, something justified by the very successes in Roman arms that they chronicled. The historians and chroniclers of the Christian Middle Ages, led by the Venerable Bede, saw history as having a didactic meaning, tending to see the suffering caused by war as God's punishment for wickedness and success in war as a sign of divine favour.
These two approaches, the realistic and the moralistic - supplemented by the structuralist approach that argues that wars are an inevitable result of fundamental contradictions in the system of power - have dominated discussion up to our own day. Plus, perhaps, the cock-up theory. While long-term causes were popular in the Marxistic 1960s and 1970s, they have since fallen prey to revisionism: for example, the English civil war was seen by Marxist historian Christopher Hill in the 1960s to have had long-term economic causes and deep intellectual roots in the transition from a feudal society to a commercial one, whereas today most historians blame it on short-term miscalculations and point out that no one foresaw it, even 12 months before hostilities broke out.
Not surprisingly, the two wars that have seen the most debate over their outbreak are the two world wars of the 20th century. While Fischer blamed the German high command for challenging British supremacy and destabilising the balance of power in Europe, others saw the war as resulting from a calculated risk by Germany that got out of hand; a third approach takes the focus away from Germany and blames the intellectual and cultural environment of Europe, while a fourth suggests the entire thing could have been avoided if the British foreign secretary had played his hand more subtly in the summer of 1914. Of course, these do not have to be mutually exclusive.
This argument has a direct bearing on attitudes to the Treaty of Versailles, which itself is often seen as the contributory cause of the rise of Hitler and the return of war in 1939. Indeed, some historians prefer to consider the two wars as part of a single conflict interrupted by a 20-year truce. But the fact that the two major wars of the 20th century were started by Germany led some to seek the origins of the war in the bellicose character of the German nation. For most, the second war was fought to end Hitler's plan of continental domination and to avert the consequences of the Nazi-Soviet pact.
Fresh life has been breathed into all these questions by the war in Iraq, and historians have been as divided as any other group on its rights and wrongs. But they have probably been less noisy than in the debate on the "war on terror" in the aftermath of 9/11, when they debated the question of a historic "clash of civilisations" between Islam and the West, as Samuel P. Huntington had argued. The typical historian's counter to Huntington's assertions was a sceptical one, with an appeal to caution and complexity, and attention to the specifics of when, where, who and how.
Juan Cole: On the Differences Between Cheney and Wolfowitz (posted 12-12-03)
Juan Cole, writing on his blog (Dec. 7, 2003):
I was on an Iraq panel at MIT on Friday with Ivo Daalder,, co-author of the just-published America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. I found his views of how the policy in Iraq has developed very interesting, and they provoked me to some thoughts of my own.
He distinguishes between the "Democratic Imperialists" (Wolfowitz and many of the Neocons) and the assertive American nationalists (Cheney and Rumsfeld), and sees them as opposing one another.
So we have three phases of American policy in Iraq and different analogies to other US imperial ventures, based on who was on top:
1. Jay Garner: Was planning to put Iraq on an even keel within 6 months and go home. This plan would have entailed putting Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress in charge of the Iraqi Army and bureaucracy (both would have been retained). It resembled the policy toward France after the US victory in 1945, where the government was handed over to the Free French. This policy was favored by Cheney and Rumsfeld.
2. Paul Bremer, First Phase: Bremer displaces Garner by mid-May. Intends to rule Iraq himself by fiat for two or three years. He disbands the Iraqi army altogether and puts off re-instituting the ministries. This is a Japan sort of plan, with Bremer playing MacArthur. He initially does not plan to have an Interim Governing Council or early elections. This plan was probably favored by Wolfowitz and some other neocons.
(Bremer first phase was modified July 13 when Bremer is forced to appoint an Interim Governing Council, because he simply did not have the legitimacy to rule Iraq by himself).
3. Paul Bremer, Second Phase: The Nov. 15 agreement is hastily hammered out calling for quick elections on a caucus basis, so that Bremer can hand over power to it by July 1, 2004. So, he would depart a year or two before scheduled. This is an Afghanistan model, complete with a US-invented Iraqi analogue to the manipulated Loya Jirga. Again, this model would be supported by Rumsfeld and Cheney and would raise anxieties among the neocons, who are dedicated to a Japan model of completely reshaping Iraq via direct US rule.
So, we've had three different models in less than 8 months, with the Washington infighting reinforced by the problem the US has had in getting control of the security situation.
I think the above analysis, which synthesizes some things that Daalder said with some things I said, leaves out the State Department too much. I think State has tended to support the Japan model and therefore to be allied with the neocons, if only as a matter of practical outcomes. It seems that the security problems are playing into the hands of the assertive American nationalists, who want to turn Iraqi civil administration over to someone local and then just leave. A US military division would be left behind for Gulf security.
The above is also probably too schematic. Daalder says that Wolfowitz is not that enamored of Chalabi, and implies that he supported Bremer against Garner (who is then coded as Rumsfeld's man). But the neocons, and not just Perle, seem to have had some sort of deal with Chalabi that made the "French" model acceptable to them. Did they really over-rule Rumsfeld to replace Garner with Bremer? How could Rumsfeld's deputies have that power to over-rule their own boss? I am pretty sure the Neocons were on board with the Pentagon flying Chalabi into Iraq in April with his militia. Moreover, there is the anecdote that Cheney poked his finger in Colin Powell's chest recently and said, 'If you had just let us turn Iraq over to Chalabi, we wouldn't be in this quagmire." This story implies that Bremer and the Japan model were State Department innovations, not neocon ones. Maybe Wolfowitz could live with it better than Cheney, but it seems to have come from Foggy Bottom. There is another wrinkle, which is that Bremer excluded most State Department Arabists in his Phase I. Why, if his Japan model was a State Department victory?
So, these whipsaw movements in Iraq no doubt do reflect Washington power struggles to some extent, but I'm not sure we have a really clear idea of who played what role. That developments on the ground in Iraq were more influential could be argued. Maybe Daalder explains all this in his book, which I have not yet read.
Josh Marshall has already written an important review of it for Foreign Affairs that is available online. He thinks Daalder and Lindsay understate the influence of the neoconservatives, who have advantages of cohesiveness that outweigh their relegation to 2nd-tier appointments.
Lisa Duggan: How Neoliberalism Has Helped Undermine the New Deal and the Great Society (postd 12-12-03)
An interview on NPR with historian Lisa Duggan, author of the new book, The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy (Dec. 8, 2003):
TAVIS SMILEY: Let me start by asking you what you mean by neoliberalism?
Prof. DUGGAN: When I talk about neoliberalism, it's actually a term that's very well recognized in Europe and Latin America and some other parts of the world. In the United States it's less often immediately understood as a set of pro-corporate, pro-business policies that were put in place by a pro-corporate social movement that really got its legs in the 1970s. And by the 1980s, had in place a series of economic policies that affected the entire globe and were centered in global institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization. And also with really strong ties to the US government through the US Treasury Department.
So these were a set of policies that sort of masqueraded as purely managerial or technical, economic policies that were going to help enhance democracy and expand wealth. But, in fact, the effect that they've had over the past 30 years is to redistribute resources, all kinds of resources, economic resources, political resources, cultural resources to redistribute them upward so that now we're living in a globe that has the highest concentration of wealth in the history of the planet. And this is partly a result of neoliberal policies that have been forwarded in the United States by both the Democratic and the Republican Party.
SMILEY: Let's get more specific here and talk about how these policies have affected social, political and economic issues in this country. Let me start with the welfare state. How does neoliberalism affect or how has it affected this country's notion of the welfare state?
Prof. DUGGAN: Well, one of the key words for neoliberalism is the term 'privatization.' You hear it a lot coming from both Democratic and Republican candidates. The call is to take institutions and practices and services that had been in the hands of the state, that there was a strong push during the New Deal and the--to put in the hands of the state a lot of care for dependent citizens and for people who are unemployed. But during the 1970s and later, the push has been to take all kinds of welfare and so-called entitlement programs, as well as things like prisons and garbage collection and schools, and to put them in the hands, instead, of private corporations, private profit-making corporations. The impact on this has been to remove a lot of the social safety net that was put in place during the New Deal, the limited welfare state put in place during the New Deal has really been stripped down and is continuing to be.
SMILEY: Lisa, I can make an educated guess here, I won't, and I'll let you respond more directly. But I'm listening to you explain this concept of neoliberalism and I hear pretty clearly who the losers are. But who are the winners? Who's benefiting from neoliberalism?
Prof. DUGGAN: Well, in the first instance, neoliberalism was a set of policies that were put together by corporations based in the United States and Europe at a time when global competition was driving profit rates up. So since neoliberal policies have been dominant around the globe for the past 20 years or so, corporate profit rates have risen dramatically in response to those policies. So the immediate winners are the profit holders in global corporations. But also various political elites around the world have also profited from a concentration of political power and the managers who run and supervise international financial institutions are also the winners in a sense.
But there's also a kind of strange shift that's happened about over the past 10 years. In the United States specifically, neoliberals initially made alliances with conservatives--moral conservatives, religious conservatives. They made electoral alliances through the Reagan administration and in company with, you know, corporate allies. And then with racial nationalists and anti-feminists and anti-gay forces within the moral conservative ranks in order to shore up the winners in a set of other sets of inequalities--racial inequalities, gender inequalities and sexual inequalities.
But over about the past 10 years, there's been a slight shift away from that set of alliances and towards forwarding a kind of phony, multicultural, egalitarianism that promotes a very narrow form of equality politics that offers a limited kind of inclusion but that doesn't do any kind of redistribution.
SMILEY: Finally, because there was a time in this country when social movements did, in fact, allow for optimism to--just how to simplify it--what can and what should inspire change now in the political direction of our government?
Prof. DUGGAN: Well, I'm hoping that this is actually a time of opportunity for progressives in this country and around the world. Actually, neoliberal policies in Latin America are taking a pretty big beating right now and there are lots of protests around the world against the anti-democratic and inaccessible global financial institutions. I think finally the Bush administration is being exposed for the kind of lying that it's been doing for the cutback on all kinds of civil liberties for those sort of coming out into the open of a kind of unilateral violent US imperialism. I think it's a moment, as bleak as things are, to actually start to expose and see and look at these policies and say, 'Hey, you know, these are not neutral economic policies. These are not about wealth expansion and the spread of democracy. These are a bunch of policies that are just making inequalities worse and restricting public life, debasing public life in a very serious way.'
So if we can all see--all of us who advocate downward distributions of all kinds, those of us who are looking for lesbian and gay equality, for women's equality, for racial equality, I'm hoping that we can see that we actually belong in alliance with each other and not dismiss each other like make--the way that some people in economic justice movements will roll their eyes and be dismissive about so-called identity politics or so-called cultural politics. Or the way in which some equality lobbies might not pay enough attention to questions of political economy, I'm hoping that we can see that we have so much more in common than what divides us and that is what we have in common is a wish for the downward redistribution, for a more egalitarian kind of spread of every kind of resource, political, cultural and material.