American Colonialism: Elements of Style

The American style of colonialism is taking shape, and what seems to be developing is a certain peevish paternalism, colored with vivid shades of condescension. The BBC reports this highlight from Dick Cheney’s Baghdad trip:

“The vice-president also held talks with the US ambassador, Ryan Crocker, and with the commander of US forces in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus. Ambassador Crocker said the vice-president would try to dissuade Iraqi politicians from taking a two-month holiday this summer. ‘For the Iraqi parliament to take a two-month vacation in summer is impossible to understand,’ he said, given the ‘major effort’ being made by US and Iraqi security forces.”

Given the demonstrated inability of the occupation forces to protect even sessions of Parliament, I don’t wonder why the esteemed solons are taking long vacations. If Cheney is so concerned with public officials taking over-long vacations, he might want to talk to his “boss,” who idled in Crawford while Iraq imploded. On the other hand, it is probably a good thing the Iraqi legislators are taking long vacations: out of session, they can’t do as much damage — and that’s a principle I’d like to apply to all legislatures, everywhere, especially here in the U.S. Wherever and whenever politicians are gathered together in groups, you’d be well-advised to hold on to your wallet — and watch your back.

Aside from that, however, this animus toward the Iraqis seems to come out of the latest evasion explanation of why the war is such a resounding failure and defeat looms so large. The War Party has gone from blaming the supposedly imperfect “execution” of their grand strategy on Donald Rumsfeld, and then on the Iranians — and now they’re pointing their fingers at the “liberated” Iraqis themselves.

This is a leaf torn from Hillary Clinton’s playbook: at least, she is the first politician I can recall taking this kind of peevish, hectoring tone with our Iraqi allies. It was she who proposed withholding aid from the Baghdad government, while continuing to fund the occupation (and the surge) at the same or even higher levels:

 “‘I believe we have to tell them that we’re not going to continue to fund their army and security for their leadership and reconstruction for their country unless they take steps necessary to have the political solutions that everyone knows have to be reached,’ Clinton said. Those include disarming militias and dealing with the problems that are causing the Sunni insurgency, she says. Clinton says cutting off funding for U.S. troops is ‘not appropriate at this time, until we get more of our troops out of harm’s way.'”

Ah, but those Iraqis deluded enough to side with the Americans will be put directly in harm’s way if we stop paying for their security. Hillary’s message to them is: do as you’re told, or kiss your a*s goodbye. The Bushies dont’ go quite that far — yet.

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