Monday, July 10, 2006

Pressure Cookers

Josh Marshall applies his usual uncommonly good sense to the neocon CYA operation with regards to Iraq:

Put simply, do we not detect a pattern in which the foreign policy neoconservatives strike out boldly on some foreign policy adventure, flop right down on their faces and then present the cause of their undoing as a novel insight wrestled from the maw of history when in fact, to everyone else except for them, this 'insight' was completely obvious and predictable from the start?

Kaplan says that America can't contain the Iraqi's "sectarian rage" nor "reprogram [the Iraqi's] coarsened and brittle cultures." As Louis Menand put it in The New Yorker, quite relatedly, when reviewing Francis Fukuyama's richly articulated discovery that regime change and preemption might not have been such a royal road to peace and democracy, "No duh!"

No duh, indeed. The defining characteristic of neocon policy, be it foreign or domestic, is a breathtaking gap between the facts on the ground and their fantasy of how the world should be. Josh has a sobering follow on observation:
I mean, this was the whole premise of pretty much everyone who said that Iraq might be a hard place to 'democratize' by invading. Non-diversified economy based on natural resource extraction, lethal sectarian divisions in a country bundled together by the British. It was pretty much the conventional wisdom going in that it was only brutal dictatorship that held the place together.
This brings us back to what we can call the Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now tragedy at the center of Bush's War. The operation was not done for the sake of the people who occupied the physical and political landscape of Iraq. It was conducted according to the plan concocted in a capitol far away, and it has foundered precisely because it had nothing solid to offer the people who suffered under its onslaught. It was a pressure cooker, and the Cheneyites turned up the heat. Is it any wonder that it exploded? Is it any surprise that the neocon reaction to the insurgency is "Exterminate the brutes!"?

Josh ends with a tantalizing thought:
Coming later, How is this all different from the Balkans? They don't get along there either, do they?
No, they don't. Szrebrenica. Sarajevo. Kosovo. These were places of atrocities in the same brutal class as what gets reported from Iraq, yet it was kept from spreading beyond the region and it was, eventually, cooled. How and why?


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