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Friday, April 11, 2003
where's the "to hell with both of them" booth?
OK, granted it's Iran, and granted it's Shiites, but look at the lead paragraph:
Iraqis stormed their embassy in the Iranian capital on Friday, tearing down photographs of Saddam Hussein but also chanting "Death to America."
I get the sense that the President, with his "moral clarity," gets confused by stuff like this (and like the "How wonderful the world would be without Saddam and without Bush!'' quote below). If we killed Sadaam, and they don't like Sadaam, why don't they like us? Well, because the world doesn't work like that; I might want to be in Elvis Costello's band, for instance, but I don't get to be the keyboardist just because I killed Steve Nieve. (Although that would make music more interesting, I think--maybe indie-rock needs more duels to the death?) The flip side of that, of course, is that some Iraqis who cheered Sadaam can also cheer us, and this raises the possibility that an oppressed people are likely to cheer whoever has the guns at the time.
More broadly, however, let's not forget the Moynihan quote, which seems custom-fitted for our current foreign policy dillema. It should remind us that no matter what our military or even, to some extent, our diplomats do, it might not help America's image abroad. The conservative theory right now is that America's culture of democracy is so strong that it will overwhelm all other cultures; the liberal theory recognizes that the American culture (of democracy, of freedom, of power, of permissiveness) is causing a lot of problems for us and we might not be able to do anything unless we change it, preferably through politics rather than war. Just a thought.