Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Frisson of democracy?
It was pretty easy to pick mighty holes in Bush's speech on Iraq yesterday (almost as big as the ones on the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border), but who could deny feeling a certain frisson of pleasure when the teleprompter ordered him to say:

Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast. And I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror. And we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.

In a free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.

In the end, the spread of democracy is about the only thing that would makes an Iraq war worthwhile. For an interesting interchange between a Syrian scholar Murhaf Jouejati and Patrick Clawson of the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy see their bizarre debate on the Jim Lehrer show; one defended Iraqi democracy, while the other cast doubt on it.

Guess who did what before going here.

If you're finished, you will see that the interchange was typical of a wider problem: Jouejati, like many Arabs who oppose war, had to resort to Arab self-debasement to contest the American invasion of Iraq. Implicit in his words was a deep fear of change, disingenuously wrapped in the language of weary realism on Iraqi limitations. Anyone who has heard Jouejati discourse on his native Syria (in particular on the Syrian presence in Lebanon) will realize that his polish masks the fact that he really speaks the language of the apparatchik.

Before you get it into your head that I found the Jim Lehrer link, open this link to see that it was Charles Paul Freund's doing.

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