While the war in the Levant continues apace, Americans
ought to focus for a moment on the near-pathetic ignorance of the bipartisan
governing elite that directs their nation's foreign policy. This vacuity was
again highlighted last week by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic
Party chief Howard Dean. Sen. Schumer boycotted Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's
address to Congress, and Mr. Dean described Maliki as an anti-Semite. Why? Well,
because Maliki had damned Israel's activities in Lebanon but failed to condemn
Now it is no surprise that the Democrats Schumer and Dean – along with President
Bush, Sen. McCain, and most Republicans – would side with Israel no matter what
the cost to U.S. interests, lives, and society (witness events
in Seattle). That is the venal and security-sapping given of contemporary
American politics. No, the surprise is that any educated American could have
anticipated any other judgment from Prime Minister Maliki. To the great dismay
of our bipartisan, democracy-pushing political paragons, the democratically
elected leader of Iraq merely stated the obvious: Iraqis regard Israel as an
illegitimate, colonizing, land-and-water thieving state that routinely murders
large numbers of Muslim men, women, and children. The hard but obvious reality
is that Maliki was speaking for his constituents, and, to be honest, for most
of the Muslim world.
Is Maliki right or wrong? For Americans, that is the wrong question, and, in
any event, the answer will eventually be decided on the battlefield of a war
that is – to say the least – peripheral to U.S. national security interests.
What should be of interest to Americans is that their political leaders in both
parties expected to create a successor government to Saddam's in Muslim Iraq
that would not be Israel's foe. If Saddam spoke for Iraqis on any issue, it
was on Israel. An expectation that Maliki would deviate from that foreign-policy
orientation could only have been hatched in the muddled minds of those in the
executive branch who promised a cakewalk, casualty-free war, and the subservient
Congress that eagerly went along for the democracy-installing ride.
When Woodrow Wilson injected the toxic concept of self-determination into international
politics, he believed that the product of the self-determination process would
always be benign: Nifty little democratic governments that would protect the
lives and rights of their citizens and live in peace with one another. Instead,
it has produced nearly a century of unrelenting bloodletting.
Reality was never Wilson's strong suit, and his successors are no closer to
reality. While it is commonplace to say that today's neoconservatives are Wilsonian
in their policies, analysis, and expectations, it is truer to say that Wilsonianism
is the common view of America's governing elites – thus we find Schumer, Dean,
Bush, and McCain on the same team of addled politicians. To be blunt, America's
democracy is not an exportable commodity; it is unique to the United States
and the product of 800
years of heroes and villains, war and civil war, racial strife and racial
reconciliation, and foolishness and common sense. As the Founders knew, it is
grounded in Britain's political experience, Scottish commonsense philosophy,
British common law, Calvinist Protestant Christianity, and the absolute requirement
of an educated populace to evaluate – and when necessary check – the policies,
ambitions, and greed of elected officials. Parenthetically, the failure of Americans
to rise up to scorn and terminate the Bush administration's (Democrat-supported)
plans to install American-style democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq suggests the
country may be wanting in the Founders' educated-populace category.
To condemn Prime Minister Maliki for being anti-Israeli is, in essence, to
reject the way that democracy and self-determination have so far worked out
in Iraq. Indeed, America's bipartisan democracy-mongers have made a consistent
habit of rejecting or ignoring the results of all the "democratic"
elections that have been held since 2000 in the Middle East. Each vote has yielded
results that reflect the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli views of Muslim electorates,
either by producing actual governments – Iraq and Palestine – or the marked
political advance of Islamists in Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
That our leaders are surprised by these results can be explained by one of only
two factors: their surprise is feigned and therefore deceitful, or they are
ignorant of the history of both America and the Middle East.
Last week's condemnation of Maliki reveals with stark clarity that the Muslim
world remains terra incognita for U.S. governing elites. Nearly 60 years after
President Truman recognized the state of Israel to win the domestic pro-Israel
vote for the then cash-strapped and vote-needy Democrats, Schumer and Dean have
stayed true to that cynical mission, a mission the Republicans have also signed
on to heart and soul. More important, the failure of America's elites to see
that no genuine U.S. national interests are at stake in the Arab-Israeli conflict
and that our model of democracy has little or no relevance in the Islamic world
except – as the Founders foresaw – as a symbol, has put Americans in harm's
way at home and abroad. Indeed, their reality-free foreign policy has made America
a target for the hatred of increasing numbers of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims.