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Friday, April 11, 2003
Electoral politics matters. The Economist, ever the vanguard of classical liberalism and elite democracy, has an apt if not disheartening evaluation of the political impact of the military victory in Iraq:
...the war has moved the neo-conservatives—neo-radicals is perhaps a better word—from the outskirts of politics to the centre. Led by Mr Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, they have been arguing for the forcible overthrow of Saddam since the early 1990s. They seem to have been right when they said the regime would quickly collapse, and its atrocities would be revealed.
Scary. Neo-cons are in the center. This passage reminds me, though, of Robin Cook's reisgnation speech from the House of Commons after the beginning of the invasion in which he remarked that it was quite peculiar that the regime could simultaneously be a threat to world security and be on the brink of collapse.
Interesting closing: The big question now is whether Mr Bush will adopt their wider hope: to democratise the Middle East.
On that question, look to the lead article in The Independent (a daily), which is strangely way ahead of the Economist (a weekly):
The overriding imperative remains that everything be done to make it clear that the Allies are there for the sake of the Iraqi people – or peoples, if the Kurds are treated as a separate group.
That means restoring order as quickly as possible and then handing over as much responsibility as possible for overseeing the handover to Iraqi leaders and the UN. However, the anti-war countries that met in St Petersburg yesterday cannot simply bicker about the terms of that role from their armchairs in front of CNN. If they want the UN to be taken seriously, they have to take responsibility.
It was cheap but effective of Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy, to call on France, Germany and Russia to do their bit by writing off their loans to Saddam's regime. It is not unreasonable of the United States to refuse to allow the French a veto over the definition of the UN's role in post-war Iraq.
The other side of that coin, though, is that the anti-war countries are asked to accept whatever role for the UN in Iraq the US is prepared to grant it. However undesirable, that is the reality. It is pointless to quibble, if the US now wants to define the UN's "vital role" as an advisory one. What matters is that as many countries as possible work together to help the Iraqi people, and then to help them take control of their own destiny.
It'll be hard, especially with Bush insisting on the traditional (e.g. from under Saddam's regime) territorial boundaries of the country, so that Turkey will give him all the support he needs. Which means Kurds will continue to get massacred and Shia and Sunni Muslims will be used as pawns by opportunistic (and probably US backed) demagogues.
I mean, I hope not. But do you trust people like George W Bush to create constitutions for other countries that treats oppressed minority ethnic groups with respect and dignity?
The big question now is whether Mr Bush will adopt their wider hope: to democratise the Middle East.