(OPE-L) Re: Consequences of the War against Iraq

From: rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU
Date: Sun Apr 13 2003 - 14:31:57 EDT

Any criticism appreciated.

On the question of Israeli or Zionist hegemony, there is much discussion
of anti-Jewish demonology in the Arab world--for example, the
circulation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the conspiracy
theory that Ariel Sharon dictates US foreign policy and the myth that
the State of Israel warned Jews to stay clear of the 9/11 attacks which
Mossad orchestrated. This is all indeed laughable and indeed pernicious.

What is no less so are the political myths by which the Western
political ruling class is gripped. Bush and Blair truly seem to  believe
and to have convinced many others that their war was only against
Saddam, not the Iraqi people whose interests Bush and Blair seem truly
to believe are consonant with their own. Bush and Blair also seem to
belive that widespread anti Americanism  has only been whipped up by
those rogues and demagogues from whom they will liberate the eventually
thankful masses--both Arab and Venezuelan.

Once these demagogues are removed,  Bush and Blair seem to believe that
the demobilized masses will be thankful for the political and economic
arrangements which they will organize on their behalf and--they
genuinely believe--in their interest. If the masses are not enthused,
this would only mean that there are more demagogues to root out,

That is, the political myth which grips the US is the belief in its
over-riding commitment to fair and mutually benefical trading relations
and democracy throughout the world.  This is somehow believed after more
than fifty years of shoring up monarchy in Sa'udi Arabia and after
reinstalling the Kuwaiti emirs without insisting on the pettiest of
reforms on behalf of exploited 'foreign' labor and women and after
calling for a coup against a twice-democratically elected govt in
Venezuela and after rehabilitating embezzlers (Chalabi) and  human
rights violators (Elliot Abrams, Negroponte, Otto Reich, etc).

More than a few liberal leftists believe that the US intends to occupy
Iraq in order to increase oil production and thus lower the price of oil
and thus break OPEC and thus reduce the rent which falls into the hands
of the OPEC states.  Which will then force these collapsed rentier
states to develop the incentives for potentially tax-paying and
employment-generating private enterprise which will in turn will give
rise to a modern culture and polity in which demonology and
fundamentalism and terrorist cells will have difficulty taking root.
Indeed it is believed that at this point American business will be
welcomed and embraced for its much-needed technical assistance in an
increasingly competitive oil and pipeline industry and its other
employment-generating investments. Bush and Blair seem truly to believe
that the Anglo-Americans will be loved not only for having liberated the
masses but also  for having brought them economically and politically
into the 21st century.   At the very least, liberal leftists are enough
in the grip of myth that they are waiting to see whether the US will
indeed modernize and develop the Arab world--as Paul Wolfowitz
promises--from its Iraqi beach-head.

Yet this attack on the landlord states themselves will not itself
eliminate differential rent I and II. Given the productivity of the
Persian oil fields--as well as their size which allow for the huge
investments which yield DRII--differential rent and the struggle over
its appropriation will not go away. Foreign direct investment in the
third world is already heavily concentrated, and there is little chance
of it taking off in the oil-exporting Arab world which suffers from
Dutch Disease. These  govts and economies will have to depend on oil
rent, but the US has no interest in any government, however it comes
into power, which will divert that oil rent towards its own ends (which
include everything from health care to women's education to corrupt
payoffs to regional hegemony); it has no interest in a government which
is not dependent on its security services and may thus welcome rival
bids (Russia, France) and may fail to accept churned out US paper
currency only to park it obligingly in US government instruments. That
is, the fundamental US interest is in governments being so unpopular and
isolated that they have to depend on the US for their security. The 51st
US State of Sa'udi Arabia remains the model.

The US truly believes that once it removes the rogues and demagogues
(the Saddams and Chavezs) the masses will happily go along with the
arrangements which they have in mind for them and that the US will then
be able to withdraw its military. Already Wolfowitz is saying that with
Saddam gone the US will be able to reduce its troop deployments in the
Arab world, yet the US never occupied Saudi Arabia to protect it from
foreign attack. Saddam did not have the capability  to do that even at
full strength, and the US war mobilization in 1991 proved that it did
not need bases in Sa'udi Arabia to protect it from external aggression.
Whether the center of US military operations moves from the holy land of
Sa'udi Arabia to  centrally located Iraq is of course another question.
But withdraw it will not. And it will not allow itself to be forced to
do so by any democratic government.

Only the pseudo highbrow entertain Fareed Zakaria's more honest
appraisal that democracy itself is a threat to US designs as it
threatens to turn illiberal. At some point, the universalist idea that
Arabs too are capable of democracy will give way to the prejudice that
they are too easily led to the camp of illiberal democracy the threat of
which is embodied in Hamas.   As always, it takes an outsider to
disabuse, however kindly and gently, the myths by which the insiders are
gripped. Of course Zakaria's disabuse is meant to free Americans of
those fairy-tales that compromise effective imperialist domination.

Zakaria himself is well enough positioned that he need not worry about
how the protracted and bloody occupation of the Arab world will surely
redound in prejudice and hate against Arabs, Muslims and those who look
like them in the US.

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad
by Fareed Zakaria

    * Hardcover: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.00 x 9.54 x 6.36
    * Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company; (April 2003)
    * ISBN: 0393047644

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Democracy is not inherently good, Zakaria (From Wealth to Power) tells
us in his thought-provoking and timely second book. It works in some
situations and not others, and needs strong limits to function properly.
The editor of Newsweek International and former managing editor of
Foreign Affairs takes us on a tour of democracy's deficiencies,
beginning with the reminder that in 1933 Germans elected the Nazis.
While most Western governments are both democratic and liberal-i.e.,
characterized by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the
protection of basic rights-the two don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Zakaria praises countries like Singapore, Chile and Mexico for
liberalizing their economies first and then their political systems, and
compares them to other Third World countries "that proclaimed themselves
democracies immediately after their independence, while they were poor
and unstable, [but] became dictatorships within a decade." But Zakaria
contends that something has also gone wrong with democracy in America,
which has descended into "a simple-minded populism that values
popularity and openness." The solution, Zakaria says, is more appointed
bodies, like the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Supreme Court,
which are effective precisely because they are insulated from political
pressures. Zakaria provides a much-needed intellectual framework for
many current foreign policy dilemmas, arguing that the United States
should support a liberalizing dictator like Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf,
be wary of an elected "thug" like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and take care
to remake Afghanistan and Iraq into societies that are not merely
democratic but free.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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