A friend who might not want the discussion linked here asks, apparently rhetorically (one of my stupidest weaknesses: I'm never sure), why exactly we're the Bad Guys in Iraq, considering how Very Bad Indeed are the worst of the cretins we're fighting there. My own short answer would be "We're not"...but I guess the longer answer is to reply with a question: "the Bad Guys in whose eyes?"
I'm presuming he means either in the eyes of large numbers of Iraqis generally (where the answer would be that (a) things were one hell of a lot better for many of them before we invaded, plus (b) the traditional Iraqi resentment of occupation); or perhaps in the eyes of those in either the Arab world (because we're persuading them Bin Ladin is right about our intentions -- they didn't react the same way when we hit the Taliban) or Europe (ditto, sorta).
But mostly, the whole thing put me in mind of a more basic difficulty, which might be of interest.
One of the hardest things about having intelligent foreign policy discussions, even -- maybe especially -- with unusually bright people, is the vast amount of propaganda that one has to wade through, to get to anything factual. Right, left, center, it's true in all cases: states cannot (as should be obvious) always discuss their aims openly, and in any event rely on propaganda for all sorts of reasons (not all of them Evile)...and that makes it tough to discuss these issues.* But the world isn't the cartoons we see on teevee, and folks are dying, and it behooves us as thoughtful people to consider the reasons. Maybe particularly on weekends like this. So let's have a go.
States survive by their control of resources -- both for their own use, and by way of denying them to competing states. On this basis, I for one have zero problem with the western powers trying, as they have over the past century or so, to control middle eastern oil. Indeed my objection to the Iraq War was, among many other considerations, that it would tend to so destabilize the region -- and, btw, get us such a black eye both regionally and throughout the world -- that it would actually deny us the oil we had hoped to score. It strikes some of us that this is sorta what happened.**
I also think some folks have missed the shift from Cold War lefties, to those of today: the sympathy with, say, Che Guevara or the Sandinistas is not echoed today by folks wearing Osama tee-shirts and cheering Al-Qaida. I mean, there are lefties who believe a lot of really silly things -- e.g., that the world would be a better place if the U.S. unilaterally disarmed, as though China, for one, would sing Kumbaya and follow suit -- and I'm all in favor of calling them on it.*** But I haven't heard anybody other than Islamic extremists suggest that Islamic extremists are "freedom fighters," "oppressed" or otherwise -- even the hardcore anti-imperialist lefties on, say, Pacifica radio. Everybody seems to be pretty clear that fanatical religious terrorists are, you know, bad and stuff.
"But they think the world would be better off if Saddam were still in power!"
In all honesty? Other than among our direct competitors (and former vassals, all over Latin America, e.g.), I'd be curious to meet any non-Shia or -Kurd Iraqi -- or -Iranian, of course -- who isn't at least a little sorry we toppled Saddam...at the least the way we did it, without the troops and program in place to make it work (always assuming one could have, even then). The unfortunate -- and, by some folks, ignored -- fact is this:
Iraq was seriously lacking in effective Islamofascists until we overthrew their enemies for them, and invited them, purple thumbs aloft, to form a government...and all their like-minded pals to move there to join the fun, as well.****
I'm sorry to labor this, but I think it's important. If one had set out to destroy American interests in the middle east -- and, for that matter, to destroy the state of Israel -- he couldn't have chosen a better move than to topple Saddam Hussein, disband the Iraqi military, and then divide up the sole secular power in the region along religious lines. It is such a colossally bad idea, so obviously guaranteed to benefit Iran and Al-Qaida to the detriment of everyone else, most especially the U.S. and Israel, that it is almost difficult to believe it was an accident.
Then again, one supposes that the left has no monopoly on really silly beliefs.
As I've noted before, I believe there's a reason that the worldwide opposition to our toppling the Taliban was about ten people on streetcorners -- and that literally millions marched to try to stop us from invading Iraq. That reason has (IMO) nothing to do with feeling sorry for terrorists, or "Bush-hating," or "blaming America first," or any of the other of what strike me, anyway, as cartoons...which Fox "News" arguably perpetuates to distract attention from the catastrophic outcome of the policies for which it is so largely to blame.
In sum, then: I'm a pro-U.S. imperialist of the most fanatical stripe. That's why I, like so many other pro-U.S. imperialists of the most fanatical stripe -- including so many actual professionals in the field -- wish so desperately these maroons had never got near the levers of power, there to set about systematically destroying a U.S. empire that had been going from glory to glory for over half a century. Until, you know, they broke it.
Okay, enough with the high horse. Sincere apologies if needed. I just hate what propaganda -- particularly the loopy propaganda on Fox -- has done to rational discussion of these topics...especially by obscuring the fact that the vast majority of critics of the current administration happen to loathe armed religious fanatics almost as much as I do.
93 93/93 -- AJ
* And that's without the Fox Factor: our own American Pravda, systematically hypnotizing the gullible. Like Pravda, what makes Fox different is that they know what they're doing, that they consistently act with consciously deceptive motives.
** This explains, btw, why the Iraq War could be fought for control of oil, yet result in a staggering rise in fuel costs -- as many (myself included) predicted would happen, before the war. To try to use higher fuel costs to "prove" that the war "wasn't fought for oil" is much like "proving" that a failed bank robbery "wasn't actually intended to retrieve money." Beyond that, there's a distinction between control of oil and lower fuel prices -- not least because higher fuel prices both stretch the available oil, and enrich Texas energy folks (like those so close to, say, the Prexy and Veep). Just sayin'.
*** Another swell example: a "Christian peace activist" whose visit to Iran started with the blubbered hope that "the U.S. and Iran will remain friends forever." It is to yarf. :/
**** I assume we've all noted "our" new Iraqi government's support for Iran's nuclear program. If you're still certain you wouldn't prefer Saddam, I can promise you that some Israelis don't agree.