Spinning a democratized Middle East

by Yule Heibel on April 18, 2003

David Olive has a great column in the April 13 Toronto Star that explains how “Not since Vietnam has mendacity so thoroughly characterized both the goals and methods of U.S. foreign policy.” He covers a lot of ground, including a comparison of administration rhetoric to reality. Colin Powell, for example, recently asserted that the US would not abandon post-war Iraq by leaving it to its own devices. On German TV, Powell asked, “And guess who will be the major contributor, who will pay the most money to help the Iraqi people to get back on their feet?” (…) “It will be the United States, as always.” Olive incredulously asks, as always?, before reviewing the facts: “As chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the Gulf War, Powell would very well know that America’s allies paid $53 billion of the $63 billion cost of that war. That about two-thirds of humanitarian and reconstruction work in the developing world is paid for by Europeans. That European and Canadian forces, among others, cleaned up after the Americans in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Of the U.S. record in post-war Afghanistan, already in chaos as insurgent Taliban gangs terrorize civilians and aid workers, Powell said: ‘We are helping them to rebuild and reconstruct their society. That pattern is the American pattern. We’re very proud of it. It’s been repeated many times over, and it will be repeated again and again.’ That claim is preposterous. After the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. returned Kuwait to its despotic emirs and left Saddam to murder thousands of dissidents. In the aftermath of 1990s U.S. interventions in Somalia, Haiti and Afghanistan, local autocrats and warlords lost no time re-imposing their violent rule. In a must-read analysis of Bush war strategy in the current Washington Monthly, Joshua Micah Marshall writes that the administration’s ‘preferred method has been to use deceit to create faits accomplis, facts on the ground that then make the administration’s broader agenda impossible not to pursue …. Strip away the presidential seal and the fancy titles, and it’s just a straight-up con.'” And here’s Olive’s succinct conclusion: “The neo-con theory behind the Iraq campaign is that a democratized Middle East will be a safer place, because democracies don’t make unprovoked attacks on other countries. It’s an attractive idea. But when the world’s most powerful democracy launched its invasion of Iraq last month, that theory failed its first test.” In Baghdad, meanwhile, tens of thousands protested in the streets against American occupation.

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