Sometimes the discourse from respected intellectuals is so smug, ignorant, and self-congratulatory that if it weren't given such serious consideration it would be nothing but laughable blather. But alas, when such junk intellectualism serves to buttress the powerful it gets a lot of traction in the loyalist media. On Weekend Edition Sunday, Liane Hansen talks to Robin Fox, prolific author and anthropologist from Rutgers, about his take on democracy in Iraq which he elaborated in an article, "The Kindness of Strangers," in Harpers (subscribers only).
Liane Hansen opens this piece with a bit of misleading framework: "In the run-up to the Iraq War President Bush argued that toppling Saddam Hussein's regime would enable democracy to take root in the Middle East, but democracy hasn't had an easy time of it there." Let's just be clear, the Johnny Democracyseed storyline was the 2005 Bush attempt to rebrand its debacle in Iraq - and not the original argument for war.
This distortion sets up the basic premise of this interview: that the US is in Iraq to establish democracy, as Fox says we are "wishing it on them." Does anyone with a shred of integrity or intelligence believe this? Hansen and Fox apparently do, and Fox brings a distinctly imperial/racist edge to his analysis, too. Here are a few of his truths:
- "...it's [democracy] a product really of the last few hundred years of very peculiar evolution in northwestern Europe and the vast majority of the world hasn't learned to live this way; it's still living with a tribal mentality."
- "We've learned the extremely important thing that they never have learned in the Middle East, for example, and that is that when the majority gets the vote, you must hand over power to it. This voluntary relinquishing of power...which seems to us the essence of democracy - how could it work otherwise - just seems like insanity and madness to a great many people in the still tribal world."
- The summary firing of Jay Garner by the Bushists because he advocated early elections and opposed the US privatization/pillaging of Iraq's economy.
- US stalling and rejection of Iraqi elections in December of 2003.
- US and media inattention to Iraqi political rejection of the US occupation.
- The US/Israeli response to Hamas election victories in January 2006.
- US attitudes toward Turkish democracy before the invasion.