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June 27, 2003

Democratic Revolution It's What's for Dinner


Time to end Operation Iraqi Freedom? Well, it depends on what your definition of 'Iraq' is

by Anthony Gancarski

Under the headline "Mail Is Chronically Late In Iraq", on the 6/24 "O'Reilly Factor", Colonel Mark Storer inadvertently exposed the logic underlying the current military adventure in Iraq. Specifically, he referred to Iraq as a "theater" in the overall Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Chickenhawk O'Reilly, of course, lacked the pluck to ask the Colonel what the other theaters in the Operation were. The question was never intended to be asked, giving validation to those who upbraided former LaRouchite Laurent Murawiec in August, 2002 for asserting, among other things, that as part of the "Grand strategy for the Middle East", that "Iraq is the tactical pivot", Saudi Arabia "the strategic pivot", and Egypt "the prize."

At the time, folks like Slate's Jack Shafer laid into Murawiec for hailing from "extreme foreign policy territory". Shafer's contemporaneous article, which provides helpfully the unexpurgated Power Point presentation Murawiec gave to the Defense Policy Board the month before, also takes issue with the Richard Perle associate describing Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East.

With the advantage of hindsight, however, we can see the tactical advantage of having a shadowy figure like Murawiec flanking Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and the other hawks of 2002 to the "right" on the issue of Middle Eastern subjugation. And we can also see that Murawiec, for all the heat he took last summer, may have been given the unenviable task of stating what US Policy would end up being in the region [talks of "cakewalks" from bigger names notwithstanding].

What did Murawiec really say that was so controversial? His Power Point presentation made some points that no one in the mainstream media seemed much willing to refute at the time. "The Arab world has been in a systemic crisis for the last 200 years", wrote the former Executive Intelligence Review scribe, due to its "Lack of Inner Resources to deal with the modern world."

Is he right? It depends on how one defines "inner resources", of course. Certainly, the region hasn't successfully resisted Western influence in any significant way, as Edward Said has spent a lifetime arguing. According to Said and many other Arab intellectuals, the typical leader of a Middle Eastern country is overly beholden to the US. On some level, folks like Murawiec are justified in asserting, prima facie, that the Arab world lacked sufficient inner resources to overthrow the yoke of western oppression.

At times, Murawiec on the Middle East approaches the "moral clarity" of Bill Bennett discussing the Drug War. Quotes from the Power Point, considered in succession, read like Fox News crawlers: "All Arab states are either failing states or threatened to fail. . . violence is politics, politics is violence. . . Saudi Arabia is central to the self-destruction of the Arab world and the chief vector of the Arab crisis and its outwardly-directed aggression. The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader. Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies."

Decontextualized, those quotes have the power to shock. But it could be argued that, in tone and deed, they go no farther than best-selling neoconservative author Michael Ledeen did in a September 2001 piece for National Review Online. "Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically, and that is precisely why the tyrants hate us, and are driven to attack us."

There were, and are, solutions to the problems posed by the tyrants in Ledeen's reckoning. Ledeen argued that Bush should "give full support to this democratic resistance movement, and encourage the downtrodden and long suffering Iraqi people to join Chalabi and win their freedom." For Iran, Ledeen claimed that "the mullahs could not survive a free election". The NRO mainstay referred to Osama bin Laden as "phantasmagorical", by way of justifying the then-imminent invasion of Afghanistan "to export the Democratic revolution". Events have conspired against us, in Ledeen's read, "forcing us to take up our revolutionary burden."

We have taken up that revolutionary burden and then some. Furthermore, there seems to be scant hope for the near future. Recent polling by the Washington Post suggests that, while 72% of Americans are concerned about the length of the peacekeeping mission in Iraq, a full 56% would support taking military action against the Tehran government. Democratic revolution? You're soaking in it!

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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