Dienstag, Februar 06, 2007

Iraq is our future...

Christopher Hitchens in the Slate hits it on the head: the developments in Iraq are, effectively, our future:

Iraq was in our future. The specter, not just of a failed state, but of a failed society, was already before us in what we saw from the consequences of sanctions and the consequences of aggressive Sunni fascism at the center of the state. Nobody has ever even tried to make a case for doing nothing about Iraq: Even those who foresaw sectarian strife were going by a road map that was already valid and had been traveled before. Thus it seems to me quite futile to be arguing about whether to blame the Iraqis—or indeed whether to blame the coalition. Until recently, no Iraqi was allowed to have any opinion about the future of his or her country. How long did we imagine that such a status quo would have remained "stable"? Charles Krauthammer might be wrong about his specific historical comparisons, but he is quite right to lay stress on the point that—absent a complete evacuation of Iraq and the region—there was a rendezvous in Mesopotamia that could not have been averted. A general refusal to confront this fact is actively revealed by the use of the passive voice.

Frequent readers will recognize one of my theses: that of Iraq asa failed state, which Hitchens takes one further step: the failed society.

But let me take that one further step: Iraq, which many saw in the 1970s and 1980s as the most secular nation in the region, is indicative of the true nature of the Middle East. The price we are paying today is the failure of the West over the last 50 years to bring the Middle East into the modern age. The colonial period failed because it was repressive and patronising; the post-colonial period failed because of the meddling of both of the superpowers and European powers who felt that they could at least act like they were superpowers in the region (Hi, France!).

This is what many critics of what the US did in the Middle East - the toppling of SH in Iraq - really fail to understand. First, the status quo was not only unstable, but also heading to explosion. SH's invasion of Kuwait wasn't merely a function of his own ego and a power grab, but also indicative of the instability of the region as a whole. The states of the Middle East, with few exceptions, are artificial constructs, with the lines literally drawn in the sand based not on some concept of nationhood, but rather to serve the interests of those who drew the lines.

France was interested in having wealthy nations in continuous conflict with their neighbors in order to first and foremost sell weapons and secondly to act as the colonial overseer without the necessary comittment.

England was interested in crippled nations, nations that would have difficulty running themselves and therefore be susceptible to the continuation of the British bureacravy running their former colonies, not the least in order to dominate the local markets in the interest of British companies.

The USSR was of course interested in client states and blocking the influence of the US in the region: client states are useful tools for proxy wars (Libyan financing of terror, Egyptian advisors in Sudan...) and the ability to turn off oil to the West would have been the greatest soft weapon of the Soviet political arsenal, useful to force major concessions from the West in terms of the Soviet's ability to acquire technology and reduce any threat from the West.

The US interests were to block the Soviets in order to ensure enough political stability that would ensure the flow of oil to the West and Japan. Democracy would be nice, but the US had no trouble aligning itself with whoever was in charge, as long as they provided for stability.

I'm simplifying, of course: in each case reality is vastly more nuanced.

But the fundamental fact remains and cannot be overlooked: the societies of the Middle East were, are and will continue to be failed societies until they are fixed, or, more exactly, until they start functioning. The murdering, as Krauthammer points out, isn't a function of anything anymore except the promulgation of hate, the creation of rage that the various factions want to try to harness for their own interests:

...when Arabs kill Arabs and Shiites kill Shiites and Sunnis kill all in a spasm of violence that is blind and furious and has roots in hatreds born long before America was even a republic, to place the blame on the one player, the one country, the one military that has done more than any other to try to separate the combatants and bring conciliation is simply perverse.

It infantilizes Arabs. It demonizes Americans. It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.

The real threat is that you now have those who are more than willing to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers and vastly more so the lives of Iraqis for their own political gains. It may end up being less a case of their having chosen civil war and much more the case that the mere idea of a successful society in Iraq is such anathema to the vested interests of their neighbors, the former colonists and the remnants of the Soviet Union that we now call Russia.

That is why Iraq is our future: if Iraq fails, nothing else will get better. Egypt will start to self-destruct under the weight of demographics, the cutting of US funds in the wake of a failed Iraq, and the certain attacks by the Moslem Brotherhood and all of its incarnations upon the tottering civil society of a country on the border of collapse. Jordan is vulnerable to a concentrated terror campaign that targets the Royal Family and pushes the country, also barely coping with demographic growth, into chaos; I don't think that anything needs to be said of the fascist state in Syria and the incessant meddlings of the Iranians in all of these countries, especially Lebanon.

The joker in the deck, of course, is the US and Israel. The US policy in the Middle East changed in the wake of Sep 11, from accepting and supporting the status quo to attacking the fundamental weaknesses based on a considered analysis of the root causes of the failed states and societies of the Middle East. The problem isn't the people in the Middle East: the problem is the failure of their societies to bridge the gap between the 12th and 21st centuries. Israel serves as the constant, painful, outrageous reminder of what a successful society in the Middle East could look like. Not the religious nature of the Israeli state, but rather in the flourishing society and economy of Israel, which with its mere 6 mn outperforms, basically, the entire rest of the Middle East combined (once you take away the oil).

Iraq is our future in more ways then one. Failure in Iraq means that the nihilists and the manipulators will have won; failure in Iraq means that failed societies won't even try to transcend themselves.

The failure of the Europeans in Iraq - the sacrificing of fundamental principles for bribery and the abject sacrifice of national interests on the altar of progressivism and populism - speaks also volumes about what failing in Iraq will mean for them: not the imagined tweaking of the giant's nose, but rather the abdication of their ability to actually have a positive contribution to the development of the Middle East. Here I really do have to agree with the German leftist songwriter Biermann:

Aus meiner Sicht war es ein Fehler, daß Deutschland sich im Jahre 2003 nicht auf die Seite der Amerikaner und Engländer gestellt hat im Streit um den Irak. Ich bin sogar der Meinung, daß der französische Präsident Chirac und sein kleiner deutscher Kumpel, der falsche Pazifist und Bundeskanzler Schröder, eine große Mitschuld am Irakkrieg der Amerikaner und Briten gegen das Terror-Regime von Saddam Hussein haben. Der Krieg vor drei Jahren hätte womöglich vermieden werden können, weil der Diktator abgetreten wäre, hätte der Westen mit einer Zunge gesprochen, mit einer Faust gedroht. Ja, ich denke, daß die Deutschen und die Franzosen schuld am Schicksal dieses Monumental-Lumpen sind. Weil sie durch ihre Appeasement-Politik Saddam Hussein suggerierten, er käme mal wieder elegant davon mit seinen totalitären Tricks, blieb der Diktator stur. Saddam rechnete nicht damit, daß Bush und Blair so naiv sein würden und einen Krieg wagen ohne ihre wichtigsten Verbündeten Chirac und Schröder. Seine Phantasie reichte nicht aus, sich vorzustellen, daß er aus seinen parfümierten Kitschpalästen in ein stinkendes Dreckloch, dann in einen Eisenkäfig vor Gericht und an den Galgen geraten könnte.

My fast & dirty translation:

As far as I am concerned, it was a mistake that Germany did not join the US and England in 2003 in the conflict with Iraq. I am convinced that the French President Chirac and his little German buddy, the false pacifist and Chancellor Schroeder, carry heavy responsibility for the war of the US and the UK against the terror-regime of Saddam Hussein. The war that started three years ago could well have been avoided and the dictator removed, had the West spoken with a single tongue and threatened with a single fist. Yes, I do think that the Germans and the French are guilty of what will happen to this monumental bad guy- Through their appeasement policies they suggested to Saddam Hussein that he could elegantly get away with one of his totalitarian tricks and as a result he remained stubborn. Saddam did not take into account that Bush and Blair would be so naive and go to war without their most important allies, Chirac and Schroeder. His fantasy couldn't concieve of the the possibility that his perfumed, kitschy palaces would transform first into a stinking hole, then into an iron cage before a court of law to end on the gallows.

Now the question is: will Iraq go down as a failure of the West? Will the people of Iraq triumph against all odds?

It is perverse that the French and the German need Iraq to fail in order not themselves to be failures. They had a choice between acquiescing to the war - that is, after all, the only thing that was asked - and actively opposing it.

Ultimately the success in Iraq will mean the diminishing of the EU in world politics.

But that's not the future the US chose: it is the future that the Europeans chose.

Keine Kommentare: