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Pepe Lepew On December - 9 - 2009

juan cole

This was actually an article in a local paper about a historian and Middle East expert spreaking at the University of Montana. It was neat to see such an interesting read in the local paper.

Anyway, here is a link to the article.

I love the neocons who like to spout this nonsense that we brought “democracy” to Iraq … as if that gives more meaning to the deaths of 4,000 Americans and perhaps 500,000 Iraqis. I get so mad when I hear that.

Partly because, the neocons’ story has changed, first of all. I’m old enough to remember that the whole point of the war supposedly to begin with was to get Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction.” When that didn’t pan out (gosh, you mean some of that intelligence was twisted and exaggerated?), then the meme turned into, “well we liberated Iraq from Saddam.”

The historian, Dr. Juan Cole from the University of Michigan, points out “there are no political campaigns because “the candidate would be killed” and no campaign offices because “they would be bombed.

“In fact, Juan Cole told an audience of educators and students on Monday afternoon, only the presence of the U.S. military has kept the very brief experiment in Iraqi democracy from turning into a bloodbath.”

Cole is very pessimistic that a democracy will survive in Iraq, at least peacefully. The massive bombings there this week continue to illustrate American sacrifices have not helped to create a stable country.

Does this sound like “liberation” to you? Whenever I hear, that “we brought democracy to Iraq,” it gets my blood boiling. Is this the neocons’ idea of “democracy?” Was this really worth the death of more than 4,000 Americans and perhaps 500,000 Iraqis?

What I find so weak about the “exporting democracy” argument is, if that was our true intent in Iraq, then why don’t we invade pretty much the entire continent of Africa? I’d say Africa is desperately in need of some democracy. How about Myanmar? Or CHINA? This isn’t about exporting democracy. And it never was. Just another dishonest neocon meme.

Categories: Featured, Iraq, News & Politics

37 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    I heard Thomas Friedman on CNN or MSNBC talking about how great the democracy is in Iraq, the parties, etc. Full of crap. He consistently gets things wrong. I have yet to figure what his creds are and why I should listen to him. Anyone want to defend him? I’m very open to hearing you out. I want to like him… but, every time I see him he speaks in flourishes of sound bytes taken from snippets of his op-eds.

    Love Juan Cole. Thankfully he moved away from the official Bah

    • PepeLepew says:

      Friedman’s an idiot…
      -11 a couple of nights ago.
      Jackson liberal? Hah! Maybe for Wyoming. Beautiful area, though we prefer to stay around Moose or Jenny Lake when we go there.

  2. Bernard Marx says:

    I’m a believer in the idea that democracy cannot be imposed (or if it can, only in rare circumstances). In somewhere like Iraq where politcs has been basically outlawed, what will fill the power vacuum left behind by Saddam? Religion.

    Having lived in the Middle East I know that the mosques are often the only places where politcs can be discussed in public. It was inevitable that the toppling of Saddam would result in factional jostling for power (that’s a euphemism for a “bloodbath”).

    Imagine if an outside power came into the US and toppled the Bush government (if only). In this situation there would be political parties and organised politcal movements ready to fill the void. In Iraq the only public platform was religion, so this naturally moves into the vacuum.

    For democracy to take hold you need to have institutional mechanisms to make the best of the inevitable multiplicity of values and interests that reside in any community.

    • escribacat says:

      Bernard, I have to wonder why the administration wasn’t privy to this type of cultural information. Or did they just pretend to listen to cultural experts and then trample ahead on the crusade?

      • Khirad says:

        That’s the sad thing. It didn’t take an expert. Lord, I didn’t know nearly as much as I know now but I knew about the Sunni/Shi’a divide for Allah’s sake! I knew about the Kurds! What dumbfucks ignored the experts? -- oh yeah, we know who…

      • nellie says:

        e’cat, you can be sure that the Bush administration had an agenda which had nothing to do with facts, cultural sensitivity, or democracy. The only pretending they did was in front of the cameras to fool the public.

      • Stoyver says:

        I have been reading Juan Cole’s blog, “Informed Comment” at Juancole.com for several years. He has consistently been right about issues concerning Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Because he speaks Arabic and can read local Arabic news papers, he has an “informed viewpoint”. Anyhow, I am glad he is still out there trying to educate Americans. Hopefully he will be given due attention.

    • PepeLepew says:

      Yeah, when has “exporting Western Democracy at the point of a gun” ever really worked?

      • bitohistory says:

        Pepe, Hey Montana is a RD (representative democracy), worked on those red-skinned people. Those that lived.

        • PepeLepew says:

          Yeah, but you know Indians weren’t allowed to vote until 1924 … and that some states still banned Indians from voting until the 1960s?

          • Khirad says:

            What about women’s rights, though?

          • bitohistory says:

            Sorry Pepe, I was being a bit sarcastic. Now, about those French fur traders…. 🙂

            • PepeLepew says:

              I resemble that remark…. 😀

              (I am Metis, descendant of French fur traders and Indians)

              For Khirad: My mum goes to the big Batoche Days Celebration almost every year, unless her health doesn’t let her. She is getting very frail, so my sister is taking her to it this summer. It might be her last one. It’s a big deal to the Metis.

            • Khirad says:

              I remember stumbling upon and reading about Louis Riel in one of my ‘get lost on Wikipedia sessions’ and wondering, why did I never learn about this? Why do Americans know nothing about their neighbor?!

    • kesmarn says:

      I totally agree, BMarx! Some have called the Iraq invasion a “revolution from above” (i.e., imposed from the top down). I can’t believe there is any situation in which that would be feasible--or even desirable.

      You are so right. Democracy has to come, ultimately, from the will of the people.

  3. bitohistory says:

    Good night all. Kalima have a good day.


  4. SueInCa says:

    I know this is OT but Grayson told Chris Matthews that Cheney should just STFU. When Chris asked what? Grayson, said, Shut and Chris got all pissy told him not to be crude LOL

    • boomer1949 says:

      Didn’t see it or hear it, but I have to admire Grayson. A little over the edge, but has the cajonnes to say (outloud mind you) what many others are just thinking.

      I tend to do the same thing and it gets me in trouble ALL the time.

    • bitohistory says:

      Sue the segment with Ron Reagan got quite heated.
      Matthews telling someone about being cruel? That’s rich!

  5. kesmarn says:

    Pepe, isn’t it a tragedy that Bush and Co. didn’t bother to consult experts like Juan Cole before launching that horrible, ill-advised Iraq war? When I was in college, I took a two semester class called Islamic Civilizations, taught by a guy who had been a Fulbright scholar and had spent a lot of time in the Middle East as well. Needless to say, that year spent studying this culture hardly made me an expert, but I think I and my classmates ended up knowing a lot more about the area, its culture, geography and history than Dubya ever did.

    To think that we could blow in there and shock-and-awe this ancient country into our version of democracy and eliminate (or at the very least, dismiss) the over-1000-year-old Sunni/Shi’a split overnight was the height of presumptuous arrogance. (But then wasn’t that Curious George’s speciality?)

    This ancient culture has seen “upstarts” like us come and seen them go. These are patient people. These are people who also do not forget. They will wait us out. They will be what they were before we got there; they will be what they are long after we leave. If they weren’t so busy trying to cope with the chaos and destruction Dubya exported, they would probably be wryly amused at the notion that we think we have anything to teach them (the inventors of chess and algebra) about how to run a government.

    As for neo-cons who delude themselves that we’ve been about the business of “spreading freedom” around the globe (as Dubya used to describe it…as if he knew a single thing about freedom), I, like you have a few questions. Starting with: “How about that place called North Korea?” Oh yeah. I forgot. They don’t have oil there, do they?

  6. Kalima says:

    If there is to be any form of “democracy” in Iraq, it will be on their terms and not something that should or can be dictated by us. George and his thugs were wrong from the conception, Iraq has always been about religious beliefs and the rest of the mindless, Republicans are still wrong in their assumptions.

  7. KevenSeven says:

    At risk of being lambasted, there are people out there who honestly believe that removing Saddam was an imperative and that installing democracy was a duty.

    People of good faith.

    That said, you would be perfectly correct that without the hysteria of WMDs, the American people would never have endorsed the invasion.

    Had the argument for invasion had been purely that Saddam was a monster and that the people of Iraq would be better off without him, America would have responded “Tough fucking luck for them”.

  8. kalicowgirl says:

    Read the article, it’s a good one. Sad to read about the ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis; that’s hardly bringing democracy to Iraq. We need to get away ASAP from our dependence on fossil fuels and especially deal with the anti-democratic (Patriot Act, FISA, electronic voting, etc.) in our own backyard.

    • PepeLepew says:

      I thought it was a *very* good article for a Montana paper. Montana papers don’t usually cover this stuff. Usually they cover car crashes, bar fights and Max Baucus’ mistress … but it is winter. Not much going on.

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