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The questions one asks *always* determine the answers one gets. Values and theories form the basis of all inquiry. This blog asks questions about Bush's "pre-emptive war on Iraq", the political influence of corporations, US foreign policy, the ''politically right'' media bias, developing countries, wealth distribution, and political philosophy.










 
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Elongavi Fugiens et Mansi in Solitudine
 
Friday, February 21, 2003  
Why is so little anti-war pop-music appearing, despite the fact that anti-Iraq war sentiment in the US (and around the world) is *far* higher than anti-Vietnam war sentiment was during the 1960s? (It wasn't until the 1970s that public opinion began to swing around.) Read this New York Times op-ed. (If News Corporation owned the music industry and the Times, it is unlikely this op-ed would appear, and the vast majority of people would never think to ask the question.):
>>>The Trouble With Corporate Radio: The Day the Protest Music Died; by Brent Staples
Pop music played a crucial role in the national debate over the Vietnam War. By the late 1960's, radio stations across the country were crackling with blatantly political songs that became mainstream hits. After the National Guard killed four antiwar demonstrators at Kent State University in Ohio in the spring of 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded a song, simply titled "Ohio," about the horror of the event, criticizing President Richard Nixon by name. The song was rushed onto the air while sentiment was still high, and became both an antiwar anthem and a huge moneymaker.
A comparable song about George W. Bush's rush to war in Iraq would have no chance at all today. There are plenty of angry people, many with prime music-buying demographics. But independent radio stations that once would have played edgy, political music have been gobbled up by corporations that control hundreds of stations and have no wish to rock the boat. Corporate ownership has changed what gets played and who plays it. With a few exceptions, the disc jockeys who once existed to discover provocative new music have long since been put out to pasture. The new generation operates from play lists dictated by Corporate Central lists that some D.J.'s describe as "wallpaper music."
Recording artists were seen as hysterics when they complained during the 1990's that radio was killing popular music by playing too little of it. But musicians have turned out to be the canaries in the coal mine the first group to be affected by a 1996 federal law that allowed corporations to gobble up hundreds of stations, limiting expression over airwaves that are merely licensed to broadcasters but owned by the American public.
When a media giant swallows a station, it typically fires the staff and pipes in music along with something that resembles news via satellite. To make the local public think that things have remained the same, the voice track system sometimes includes references to local matters sprinkled into the broadcast.
What my rock 'n' roll colleague William Safire describes as the "ruination of independent radio" started with corporatizing in the 1980's but took off dramatically when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 increased the number of stations that one entity could own in a single market and permitted companies to buy up as many stations nationally as their deep pockets would allow.
The new rules were billed as an effort to increase radio diversity, but they appear to have had the opposite effect. Under the old rules, the top two owners had 115 stations between them. Today, the top two own more than 1,400 stations. In many major markets, a few corporations control 80 percent of the listenership or more.
Liberal Democrats are horrified by the legion of conservative talk show hosts who dominate the airwaves. But the problem stretches across party lines. National Journal reported last month that Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, was finding it difficult to reach his constituents over the air since national radio companies moved into his district, reducing the number of local stations from five to one. Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, had a potential disaster in his district when a freight train carrying anhydrous ammonia derailed, releasing a deadly cloud over the city of Minot. When the emergency alert system failed, the police called the town radio stations, six of which are owned by the corporate giant Clear Channel. According to news accounts, no one answered the phone at the stations for more than an hour and a half. Three hundred people were hospitalized, some partially blinded by the ammonia. Pets and livestock were killed.
The perils of consolidation can be seen clearly in the music world. Different stations play formats labeled "adult contemporary," "active rock," "contemporary hit radio" and so on. But studies show that the formats are often different in name only and that as many as 50 percent of the songs played in one format can be found in other formats as well. The point of these sterile play lists is to continually repeat songs that challenge nothing and no one, blending in large blocks of commercials.
Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin has introduced a bill that would require close scrutiny of mergers that could potentially put the majority of the country's radio stations in a single corporation's hands. Lawmakers who missed last month's Senate hearings on this issue should get hold of the testimony offered by the singer and songwriter Don Henley, best known as a member of the Eagles, the rock band.
Mr. Henley's Senate testimony recalled the Congressional payola hearings of 1959-60, which showed the public how disc jockeys were accepting bribes to spin records on the air. Now, Mr. Henley said, record companies must pay large sums to "independent promoters," who intercede with radio conglomerates to get songs on the air. Those fees, Mr. Henley said in a recent telephone interview, sometimes reach $400,000.
Which brings us back to the hypothetical pop song attacking George Bush. The odds against such a song reaching the air are steep from the outset, given a conservative corporate structure that controls thousands of stations. Record executives who know the lay of land take the path of least resistance when deciding where to spend their promotional money. This flight to sameness and superficiality is narrowing the range of what Americans hear on the radio and killing popular music.<<<

8:21 AM

Thursday, February 20, 2003  
Further evidence of a conservative bias in the media:
* The corporate media seeks to gut anti-trust laws (which limit the concentration of media), so it brown-noses to Bush's whim, even at the cost of thousand of lives. It's not a conspiracy, it's simple bottom-line, free-market incentive structures. The media wants political favors. These laws were enacted to prevent states like communist Russia and fascist Italy and Germany; but the US is now gutting them. The former editor of Cox media and owner of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill Kovach, says: "You're not going to read much on the Bush Administration's turbo charging the media monopolies via the FCC deregulation [where Colin Powell's son Michael Powell is in charge]. For Cox and the other communications heavyweights, there's a pile of cash at stake. If you figure out what's happening, it could cost the press magnates some major money. The big challenge for the daily is to run a sufficient number of military puff pieces to ensure that its reporters are 'embedded' with our troops -- which means you will get only the news the government wants you to get."

* If one corporation owned both the New York Times and hundreds of radio stations, do you think the Times would run an editorial like this one, which explains why no anti-war pop-music is popping up, on corporate-owned radio? Think again.
* Even the conservative William Safire, a former Nixon speechwriter, lambastes media giants and argues in favor of regulating them.
* A must-read: Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? (see www.WhatLiberalMedia.com).
*See also Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You
* All 175 of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers have editorial opinions supporting war, following Murdoch's own statements. Murdoch owns Faux/Fox-TV, the New York Post, London Times, etc. through "News Corporation." It was he who hired Roger Ailes, media-strategist for Nixon, Reagan etc., to head up Faux-News; Ailes is the former producer for Rush Limbaugh's TV show, and is now in charge of "news"??
CBS has threatened to cut the microphones during the Grammy Awards if any musicians speak out against the war.
* Fox-TV (Murdoch's News Corp) and CNN (AOL/Time-Warner)refuse to run anti-war ads! As did Comedy Central (AOL/Time-Warner plus Viacom). Last month, NBC ( General Electric) refused to broadcast a MoveOn.org anti-war ad.
* See also Danny Schecter's Media Wars: News at a Time of Terror (2003).

4:10 PM

 
5,000 Iraqi-Shi'ite troops in exile in Iran have moved into Northern Iraq, reports the FT. Their leader, Ayatollah al-Hakim, noted: "The Iraqi people consider this kind of administration as an invasion, as foreign domination and control. Violence and social disorder will break out against the Americans." Meanwhile, a Sunni opposition leader, Sharif al-Hussein, also threatened that U.S. soldiers would become the targets of suicide bombers if U.S. military rule was imposed after Saddam. Meanwhile, Turkey is preparing to move its troops into oil-rich section of Kurdish-Iraq to create a "security belt" across the entire north. And the Kurds have appealed for help, and warned the US there could be violence if Turkish troops enter Kurdish areas. And Iran has offered to assist the Kurds if Turkey intervenes.
Gosh, destabilization and complexity involving the Shi'ite majority, Kurds, and Turkomen? Well, golllldanggg! Gee whillikers! What a surprise... except to anyone with an objective view of the region.

Remember the 30 million Kurds, spread across Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria? These are the people who Saddam slaughtered in the 1980s, using chemical weapons developed with US, German, Russian and French technology. At the time, the US supported Saddam (remember?), and so the Reagan Administration said little about it, despite human rights groups' outcries. Then, when it was convenient for Bush Jr., he used the Kurds as a justification for US invasion, repeating over and over again that Saddam "used WMD against his own people [the Kurds]." But now that the US is invading, how much do we care about the Kurds? Not much. Read:
>>>Kurds Appeal to Bush to Restrain Turkey: Heads of the two Kurdish factions allied with the United States in the looming attack on Iraq have made an unprecedented appeal to President Bush to protect them from another potential antagonist: NATO ally Turkey. This is the first in writing and the Kurds have labeled it "urgent." The Turkish government has announced plans to enter northern Iraq to carve out a "security belt" for the protection of war refugees. The letter says many Kurds fear that "Turkey's real agenda" in wanting to send troops into Kurdistan, an autonomous area in northern Iraq, "is to crush [our] experiment in democratic self-government." The letter contains a blunt warning as the United States prepares to use Turkey a base to launch attacks on the Baghdad government: "Should Turkish military forces come in contact with Kurdish populations," the letter declares, "there is a real risk of clashes." Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan request a formal "memorandum of understanding" that would guarantee "non-intervention by all Iraq's neighbor[s]" and commit the United States in writing to Kurdish concerns for "a federal and democratic Iraq." Turkey's threatened incursion could complicate U.S. war efforts and might trigger a wider regional involvement in northern Iraq. ABCNEWS has learned that Iran sent a delegation to Kurdistan earlier this month, probing potential interest in Iranian military assistance if Turkey makes good its threat to intervene in the area. The Kurds, whose population in the countries of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria is estimated at 30 million, have no state of their own. Iraqi Kurds, landlocked with no airport facilities, have had a history of shifting alliances with neighboring countries. Turkish officials say that they may deploy two Turkish soldiers for every American one in northern Iraq, potentially a total of 80,000 Turkish troops. According to published reports, the Turkish army plans to penetrate 150 miles into Iraq, half way to Baghdad. The Turks have refused the U.S. request to put their forces under American command. There is a bloody history between Turkey and its Kurdish separatist rebels, the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, for years. In the early '90s, Turkish forces even moved into northern Iraq in pursuit of them, but Kurds in northern Iraq cooperated with them. Turkey's troubles with the PKK largely ended in 1999, after PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan was captured and imprisoned.
The issue of territorial gains heads the list of frequently stated Turkish concerns that Iraqi Kurds secretly plan to establish an independent state, with the oil-rich city of Kirkuk as its capital. Kirkuk, a city of more than a million, has a large Kurdish population, as well as smaller communities of Turkomans and Assyrian Christians. Meanwhile, Turkey has threatened to capture Kirkuk "to protect the Turkomans," if Kurdish forces try to enter the city with the return of the displaced peoples.
Possible Powder Keg Developing: The seeming impasse is one indication of a host of feared conflicts awaiting American attention in Iraq. For their part, the Kurds have begun to voice concerns that the Bush administration, in an effort to persuade Ankara to allow the U.S military the use of Turkish soil, may have given the Turkish army a green light to invade northern Iraq. Kurdish leaders here have been visibly shaken in the past few days by rumors that a primary objective of the Turkish incursion would be "to disarm the Kurds." Barham Salih, the PUK prime minister, told ABCNEWS, "The Kurds will not give up their arms -- Turkey should not invade." The normally conciliatory Salih was blunt in venting his frustration. "Saddam Hussein failed to disarm us; we are freedom fighters and we will defend our hard-won gains," he said. Last spring, KDP chief Massoud Barzani told ABCNEWS that his estimated 45,000 peshmerga — "those who face death" would fight Turkish troops if they entered his territory. The war of words reached a climax during the summer when the KDP party newspaper warned Ankara that the contemplated incursion into Kurdistan would result in "a Turkish graveyard." In reality, the lightly armed Kurds would be no match for the modern, U.S.-equipped Turks, who have 600,000 troops, the second most powerful army in NATO. Despite a long history of hostility, the angry rhetoric between the Kurds and the Turks had cooled down over the last year. Until just recently, it appeared that both parties might find a way to cooperate as U.S. allies in a potential attack on Iraq. The new military threat raises the possibility that American soldiers on the northern front could be caught in the middle of a Turkish Kurdish shooting war just when they are engaging the Iraqi army.
No Protection From Weapons of Mass Destruction: As the prospect of a U.S. attack on Iraq increases, the Kurds are stockpiling food and drinking water. ... About 3.5 million people live in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Unlike the populations of Kuwait or Israel, the Kurds have no protection against the threat of weapons of mass destruction if Iraq is attacked and decides to retaliate against nearby Kurdistan. With the possibility of war on Iraq as near as two weeks away, the tone from the leaders of the Kurds is increasingly plaintive. In the letter to President Bush, the Kurdish leaders say they "have yet to receive any of the protective equipment promised by your officials to deal with the very real risk of chemical or biological weapons attack on the cities of Iraqi Kurdistan." The written appeal is dated Feb. 13, 2003. Thus far, the Kurds say, there has been no reply from the White House. <<<

11:30 AM

Wednesday, February 19, 2003  
President Clinton used to repeat Truman's dictum: "The buck stops here"--in the White House. As the supreme elected leader of the land, the President is responsible for what happens during his 'watch.' Except, it appears, for President Bush Jr., who agrees only up to a point: his Administration seems to feel that "the buck stopped with Clinton." Everything that has gone wrong in the past two years, the Bushies now blame on Clinton. The economy, 9/11, anthrax attacks, the largest budget deficits in US history (even before the war on Iraq), rising unemployment, deteriorating ties with NATO, the existence of Al Qaeda, a pervasive climate of fear across the US, the preventable debacle that has occured with North Korea's vastly accelerated nuclear weapons production and increased bellicosity, corporate fraud (including Enron, Halliburton, Harken, and the vast majority of other firms who overwhelmingly contributed to Republican causes), declines on the stock market (in fact: a 37% S&P drop under Bush, vs. huge gains under Clinton), delays in implementing a homeland security agency as recommended three years ago by Gary Hart and others, the failures to pick up on Sandy Berger's transition warnings about Al Qaeda in December 2000, and the subsequent intelligence failures; growing conflicts in Angola, the Balkans, Burundi, Colombia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kashmir, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe; setting back the reformist movement in Iran, spoiling the sympathy and political capital the US gained after 9/11, worsening wealth equalities in the US, invading privacy and impinging on Constitutional freedoms at home, a declining US dollar, increasing gas prices, a rise in anti-Semitism and violent crime, a record number of Americans filing for bankruptcy, more people without health insurance, a rise in domestic drug use and drug production overseas, failure to implement accounting reforms, 1.5 million jobs lost in 2001-2002 (vs. over a milliion gained under Clinton), a burning Mideast crisis, a record trade deficit ($44 billion), lowest consumer confidence in 10 years (since Bush Sr.!) and still falling, and on and on.
Rather than blaming Clinton, if Bush can't take the heat, then he should get out of the kitchen! Colin Powell is not perfect, but he's far better than the rest. One reader suggests: "Let's see, to have President Powell we'd only have to impeach Bush, Cheney, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; probably Ashcroft, too, to get the necessary investigations off the ground."

7:27 PM

 
More reasons not to trust Colin Powell. And yet even more reasons, here, rebutting his UN presentation.
A few Dems are speaking out: Carl Levin. Robert Byrd and again, Dennis Kucinich and again. John Glenn (read below). In the NYT, Kristoff hits on Bush's naive and dangerous utopianism.

12:35 PM

Tuesday, February 18, 2003  
John Glenn opposes war in Iraq!! Glenn is the quintessential all-American hero. First astronaut to orbit the earth, Marine Corps pilot who flew 59 missions in World War II, Senator for 24 years. Yet Glenn is opposed to Bush's obsession with war on Iraq. Does anyone want to suggest that John Glenn is not patriotic? Maybe you, John Ashcroft? Or Colin? Condi? George? Dick? Spokes-chimp Ari? I didn't think so.

>>>Posing one of the "what ifs" surrounding a U.S. invasion of Iraq, former U.S. Sen. John Glenn yesterday expressed concern that al-Qaeda could obtain nuclear weapons by toppling Pakistan’s government. Mr. Glenn said U.S. military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power could "inflame the whole Muslim community across the world" and threaten President Pervez Musharraf’s control over Pakistan. "Then you have al-Qaeda with a whole stockpile of nuclear weapons. That’s a poor trade-off to me," Mr. Glenn said. In an audiotape allegedly from Osama bin Laden broadcast last Tuesday, Pakistan was listed among the countries that Muslims should liberate through jihad. Mr. Glenn said he believes North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program is a bigger threat than Iraq. [Note to Joshua Micah Mitchell: contrary to your blog today, many leading Democrats have spoken out about the importance of the Korean crisis, you just don't want to link them because they are also opposed to Bush's war on Iraq, which you now support.] Glenn said: "The case against Iraq is what may happen in the future; what they might do. Is [Saddam Hussein] a real bad guy? Yeah, he is. There is no doubt about that. If we’re supposed to straighten out every place in the world where there are bad guys running the government, there are probably a dozen to 15 countries we’d have to go into tomorrow," he said.

Mr. Glenn said he favors reviving the military draft. [Note to Democrats and the press: it is not just Al Sharpton who calls for this! It is also America's #1 hero. Why don't you print this, instead of jumping on Sharpton?] Young people would have an option to serve a longer period in national service such as the Peace Corps, he said. Over the last several years, the military has enticed a lot of people to enlist from the "lower economic strata" that wanted to get training, an education, or couldn’t find a job during peacetime, Mr. Glenn said. "In a long-term conflict, they are going to be the ones who will be dying for everybody else. I think that honor should be spread equally across our whole society," he said.

He expressed concern that the U.S. has adopted a new policy that could lead to more nations’ attempting to obtain nuclear weapons. Saying that he expects the U.S. to face terrorism for at least two decades, Mr. Glenn said the key is preventing attacks through "better intelligence" among the "civilized nations" of the world. The U.S. always has had the ability to take the first military step if faced with an imminent threat, but now the policy has become "we’re going to make a judgment about whether you will able to develop certain weapons systems and if we don’t like it, we’re going to take you out," Mr. Glenn said. If the U.S. government had pursued that policy before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it could have justified military action against South Africa, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, [Egypt] and Pakistan, he said. <<<

6:41 PM

 
Israel's largest English newspaper, Haaretz, reports that U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton yesterday told Israeli officials that he had no doubt America would attack Iraq, and that it would be necessary thereafter to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea. This is huge news--yet it does not appear above the fold on a single major U.S. newspaper. (Readers of this blog will not be surprised. See the archives, e.g., http://elongavi.blogspot.com/2003_01_12_elongavi_archive.html#87630272 For more on Bolton, see the "New American Century Project" letter in the archives, and also his background.)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. "These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve," Sharon said to a visiting delegation of American congressmen.
This is also no surprise. Along with many in the Bush Administration, neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretz have long called for "regime change" throughout the Middle East. Afghanistan was just the beginning, wrote Podhoretz:
"The second step will be a change of regime in Iraq--sooner rather than later, many of us hope and pray. When Saddam Hussein goes, the Iranian domino might also fall, ... by the internal revolution already brewing there against the rule of the mullahs. To this revolution, Bush (though not his own State Department!) has given his blessing. The best-case scenario [sic] is that Bush will eventually come to grips with the reality that Afghanistan and Iran are far from the only countries in the Middle East where "reform" is not enough to bring about the actions he has called upon all of them to take. In other words, as in Afghanistan and Iran, changes of regime are the sine qua non throughout the region. [...] The regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown and replaced are not confined to the three singled-out members of the axis of evil. At a minimum [sic], the axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as "friends" of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority, whether headed by Arafat or one of his henchmen. ... There is no denying that the alternative to these regimes could easily turn out to be worse, even (or especially) if it comes into power through democratic elections [sic]. After all, by every measure we possess, very large numbers of people in the Muslim world sympathize with Osama bin Laden and would vote for radical Islamic candidates of his stripe if they were given the chance. [...] Nevertheless, there is a policy that can head it off, provided that the United States has the will to fight World War IV--the war against militant Islam--to a successful conclusion, and provided, too, that we then have the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated parties. This is what we did directly and unapologetically in Germany and Japan after winning World War II [this comparison is ludicrously inept, see this archive]; it is what we have indirectly striven with some success to help achieve in the former Communist countries since winning World War III; and it is George W. Bush's ultimate aim in World War IV." (From Commentary, September 2002; temporarily available online at
www.ourjerusalem.com/opinion/story/opinion20020904a.html ) So, just in case you missed it, Podhoretz is the intellectual godfather of neo-cons like Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney and others who are now leading the US into war against Iraq. And, he calls for World War III against seven other Mideast countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the PLO), and a non-democratic US occupation with the "political stomach" to change their cultures. Why wasn't this above-the-fold news throughout the 2002 election campaign, and beforehand in the debate over "Iraq"?
(There is very little debate within the neo-con movement on this; Robert Novak is an exception. More recently, with war all-but-inevitable, intra-diaspora debates over the war are being raised in more mainstream media, e.g. Michael Kinsley and Mickey Kaus in Slate, Joe Klien in Time, Robert Kaiser in the Washington Post.)

6:23 PM

 
Further proof of the conservative media bias: >>>Rupert Murdoch argued strongly for a war with Iraq in an interview this week. Which might explain why his 175 editors around the world are backing it too, from the London Times and Sun, to the New York Post and 172 others. Murdoch also owns Fox/Faux-TV, whose news director is Roger Ailes, media strategist for Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr.; Ailes also produced the Rush Limbaugh TV show. After an exhaustive survey of the highest-selling and most influential papers across the world owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, it is clear that all are singing from the same hymn sheet. None dared to croon the anti-war tune. Their master's voice has never been questioned. Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp which owns more than 175 titles on three continents, publishes 40 million papers a week and dominates the newspaper markets in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Murdoch said: "We can't back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam...I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly, and I think he is going to go on with it. I think Tony Blair is being extraordinarily courageous and strong..." Most revealing of all was Murdoch's reference to the rationale for going to war. Politicians in the United States and Britain have strenuously denied the significance of oil, but Murdoch wasn't so reticent. He believes that deposing the Iraqi leader would lead to cheaper oil. "The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy...would be $20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country." "Once it [Iraq] is behind us, the whole world will benefit from cheaper oil which will be a bigger stimulus than anything else." <<<

5:15 PM

Sunday, February 16, 2003  
Plans for the future U.S. occupation of Iraq are a disaster, already. If the US pushes a federal democracy, for the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, it may destabilize the region leading to a variety of civil wars. (While this provides opportunities for further divide-and-conquer policies, it also breeds terrorism, destabilizes oil supplies, and threatens neighbors like Turkey). But if the US supports continued rule by the authoritarian Baath Party, it loses support of the Iraqi opposition and perpetuates brutal rule by the Sunni minority (and makes a mockery of US rhetoric, which lowers our prestige and soft-power). Political science articles lauding such plans for a US-imposed "transition to democracy" read like a Jonathon Swift parody--full of all the buzzwords from modernization theory and democratization literature, complete with social-scientistic jargon and pretenses of methodology, propped up with a few carefully selected factoids, but utterly lacking in common sense, depth, and concern for Iraqi civilians.
Neo-cons like Podhoretz, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney etc. abuse the historical parallel to post-war Japan and Germany. Twenty-seven senior scholars of Japan say this is a "self-serving misreading of history and strongly urge the U.S. government to reconsider its ill-conceived project of war and occupation." The situation in Iraq now is nothing like that of Japan or Germany then. Any undergraduate who studied democratization or read The Third Wave would know this. Some of the key differences:
* Cataclysmic war had killed millions of people, by 1945.
* US dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, and had a monopoly on nuclear weapons.
* Broad consensus for occupation existed, after the Potsdam Conference.
* Emperor Hirohito surrendered unconditionally. The US occupation was peaceful, without clashes, and in a spirit of consensus.
* The Emperor remained a symbolic head of state, to provide unity, continuity, and stability. No such leader will exist in post-war Iraq.
* Stateless terrorists with WMD did not exist; the war was over, not on-going.
* Both Germany and Japan had some prior experience with legislative democracy (Weimar, Diet)--vital, according to theorists.
* Both had a history of relatively strong "civil society," social organizations outside the political control of the state.
* Both had highly developed "arts of association" (Tocqueville), which permitted non-violent resolution of low-level disputes.
* Both had high human capital, with higher literacy and education rates, which favor democracy.
* Neither had destabilizing neighbors (vs. Syria, Iran, Saudi); in fact German and Japanese neighbors strongly supported the occupation (France, China, etc.).
* Neither had ethnic divisions (vs. Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis in Iraq).
* No galvanizing provocation (vs. US troops in holy lands like Saudi, seizure of oil-fields, support for Israeli settlements policy).
* No church-state conflicts (vs. Islam, an all-consuming religion).
* No pool of anti-US sympathizers (vs. many now in the 1.2 billion Muslim world).
* No 1,000 year-old history of animosity between civilizations (the Crusades). (Similar culture with Germany. Japan isolated, so less conflict.)
* MacArthur had a deep understanding of Japanese history and culture, and he respected it (and the Japanese respected him).
In short, there is very little in common--other than a U.S. occupation and the hope that it goes well.
A recent Carnegie Endowment report concludes:
"The increasingly popular idea in Washington that the US, by toppling Saddam Hussein, can rapidly democratize Iraq and unleash a democratic tsunami in the Middle East is a dangerous fantasy. ... Iraq is a country torn by profound ideological, religious and ethnic conflicts. In short, the US would have to become engaged in nation-building on a scale that would dwarf any other such effort... And it would have to stay engaged not just years, but decades, given the depth of change required to make Iraq into a democracy. ... The notion that the fabled 'Arab street' would respond to the establishment of a US-installed, nominally democratic Iraqi regime by rising up in a surge of pro-democratic protests... is far-fetched. An invasion would very likely intensify the anti-Americanism already surging around the region, strengthening the hands of hard-line political forces."
But the Bush Admin has made so much noise about democratizing Iraq, that the US will (once again) lose credibility.

8:17 AM

 
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