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, Sharon-style. 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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