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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dumb or dumber

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is set to speak to Congress today. From the Boston Globe:
"His refusal to condemn Hezbollah is painful. When it comes to the war on terror, we ask Prime Minister Maliki, where does he stand? What side is he on?" said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. "Iraq is supposed to be, in the words of our president, a great ally" and linchpin of Middle East democracy.

In a letter to Maliki, Schumer and other high-ranking Democrats wrote that the prime minister's published comments referring to "Israeli aggression" were troublesome, noting that Maliki has not ruled out amnesty for Iraqi insurgents who have killed US soldiers. Democratic House lawmakers also pointed out that the Iraqi Parliament approved a resolution condemning Israel and its "criminal aggression."

In addition, 20 Democratic congressmen wrote to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert , Republican of Illinois, urging him to cancel Maliki's address. It was an unusual rebuke of a world leader -- particularly one who rose to power after the United States ousted former dictator Saddam Hussein and sponsored the elections that swept him into office. Republicans rejected the Democrats' idea and urged them to listen respectfully to the address; most Democrats are expected to attend.

OK, deep breaths. Here are the possibilities:

1. Democrats actually believe this is good policy.

As Steve Gilliard points out, Maliki doesn't have a lot of options here. How long do you think he would last if he came out strong against Hezbollah and made even a little bit of pro-Israel noise? Unlike most world leaders, Maliki has more to worry about than just the next election — beheading, for instance.

With the election of Hamas in Palestine, I thought everyone had pretty much given up hope of U.S.-friendly democracies magically springing up all over the Middle East. It's not hard to work this out: When most of a country's populace is anti-American, and you allow them to elect their own government, the government is going to be anti-American too.

The Iraqi government is a lot more concerned about staying on the good side of its neighbors (i.e. Iran) than America's. After all, what's the downside to criticizing the United States? Bush has already said our troops aren't coming home while he's still in office. We've made support of Iraq one of the pillars of our foreign policy.

The last thing the Iraqi government wants is to be seen as a pawn of America. Most Arabs, including Iraqis, probably assume they are already. But there's no reason to make it worse by doing something as monumentally stupid as publicly supporting Israel. The leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia can get away with that because they rule their countries with an iron fist and are in little danger of open revolt. Open revolt would be an improvement in Iraq.

At this point we need to accept that Iraq will probably not be closely allied to the United States. So let's concentrate on some other goals like, I don't know, halting its slide into civil war and preventing the implementation of Sharia law.


2. Democrats know this is dumb but are using it as a political ploy.

If anything, this might be even worse than the first option. We've already got one party playing national security for partisan advantage — we don't need another.

The Republicans have made such a clusterfuck of U.S. foreign policy that you have to assume the Democrats would do a better job almost by default. But between this and that Dubai ports crap, I sometimes wonder if they even care what's in our national interests.

We're facing enough real problems at home and abroad that we don't need to gin up new ones. Rather than trying to beat the Republicans at their own game, why don't the Dems try to come up with some workable policies for improving the situations in Iraq and the larger Middle East? You know, actual governing.

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Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.