12/02/2005

the latest on the neocon con job

So President Bush, again after that interminable deer in the headlights phase his administration is known for in a crisis, has come up with a plan to "win" in Iraq. I hope it includes another scene of our Peter Pan President flitting across the deck of an aircraft carrier in a tight little flight suit, brass band playing and banners declaring his glorious victory waving. That was so much fun the first time around.

This war was lost from the get-go and there is no winning it now, regardless of what the armchair warriors back home would like to believe. The neocons have conned the war's supporters into believing it's about conservatives versus liberals, that it's a domestic issue that cuts to the core of what it is to be a Republican or Democrat. And this strategy has paid dividends to the GOP, but it's bullshit, and it's starting to backfire, because the bullshit detectors are going off all across the nation.

There are a number of reasons why this war is unwinnable, some of which James Fallows touches on in his cover piece for this month's Atlantic Monthly, "Why Iraq Has No Army." After the initial shock and awe, the "liberating army" stood by and watched, along with the rest of the world, as the country descended into chaos. Vital time was lost, and then the civilians in the administration lost interest.

Lately the obvious has been getting some press. Self-proclaimed "Liberators" who don't know the language or respect the culture of those they're "liberating" seldom "win" in the end. "Liberators" who torture those they have "liberated" never do. But, aside from the human relations problems the idea of imposing a democratic system on a tribal culture is sheer hubris. Even the idea of Iraq's arbitrary borders--it's very existence as a nation-state--is flawed. The imposition of arbitrary and artificial borders in the name of a particular idea of social and political organization has reaped destruction in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe (and not just the Balkans--Spain, the UK, France, even Belgium). There are obvious advantages to everyone playing by the same rules and adhering to a certain model of the nation-state, but there is a cost as well.

In Iraq, three populations traditionally at odds with each other are expected to share a single nation, governed democratically. This expectation is part of the neocon fallacy, where America waves its fairy wand, and *poof* free market democracies appear.

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