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July 28, 2006

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This Bush guy used to make me laugh, now I just feel sick.

"Who are these ideologues who are so frightened of democracy?"

Maybe the Syrians, maybe the Iranians? Maybe a group or two in Iraq that stand to lose influence?

Maybe the Syrians, maybe the Iranians? Maybe a group or two in Iraq that stand to lose influence?

Maybe the US, maybe the republican party? maybe a group or two in the US who are afraid to lose influence(Xtian Coalition, Neo-cons)?

I doubt Bush was referring to the Xian coalition.

I myself am off to La-La-Land or somewhere a few hours' drive away for a while - I hope rilkekind enjoys flying. Keep up the good work, everybody, and try not to get too famous.

That press conference was even better seeing it on CNN in the original gibberish. The cerebrum has obviously left the building.

Hey, listen, in that first response we've finally gotten him to admit that violence might have root causes, and that the 9/11 attacks might have had reasons (" . . . a lot of resentment and anger . . .") beyond "crazy freedom-hating Musselmen." Baby steps, hilzoy!

Now if we can just get him caught being fellated, we can get him out of office and move on.

Well, George has a lot to be proud of, Iraq having more religious and press freedom than Russia and all that.

By the way, the facts of Iraqi governance answer a question, "Where were all the liberal bloggers when it was time to celebrate the Iraqi elections?" The answer is, "At least some of us wanted to see just who these people would turn out to be, because we don't think there's any magic in elections as such." And sure enough, it turns out that Iraq is once again run by people I don't much approve of.

Until the last few days, I had always discounted the psychological theories around Bush's relationship with his Dad and how that affected policy. But after Maliki's speech blaming the US for abandoning the Shia in '91 and now this utter repudiation of everything his father's foreign policy stood for, I'm coming around to the view that our President is an adolescent rebelling against his father. Since he has advisors around him who seriously believe its the US' place in history to cleanse the Middle East (of what I'm still not quite sure, but cleansing must occur), we are in some scary times.

This numbnuts, this international joke, was elected (more or less) by We The People. The same People who - more than ever, according to the latest polls - still think Saddam had WMD, and who still think Saddam was in cahoots with OBL to pull off the 9/11 attacks.

Given that, I'm not so sure we have much call to criticize any other country's electoral choices.

Hil, I think it distinctly possible that the Gaza Round of this thing (the German press was calling it The War With No Name earlier in the week) was touched off by people frightened of democracy: an expat faction of Hamas that did not want the democratic adoption of the prisoners' plan.

Of course the fact that the Israelis appeased the anti-peace faction on the other side, as it has done so many times in the past, makes one wonder whether they too should be included in the list of those who do not want democracy. (I'm not saying it's Israeli policy, but I'd also not say that if it is Israeli policy, it's irrational).

It is now the U.S. Government's foreign policy (using my hard-earned tax dollars but not Paris Hilton's) to no longer "manage calm" but instead to become a revolutionary force and to permit violence to become a clarifying moment.

And yet the posting rules at Obsidian Wings have been strengthened to "manage calm" and to blunt revolutionary rhetoric and cheap violent talk.

Which is good .... the second part, that is.

It's hot as hell outside. And the contradictions ... they heighten.

Max Headroom in '08!

From now on, whenever everything is going to hell in a handbasket and I have well and truly screwed things up, I will refer to the resulting nightmare as "birth pangs". (To replace "just making omelettes, doncha know!")

Methinks Condi has finally embraced the rhetoric of Malcolm X over that of MLK.

CaseyL: I just meant that I suspect I might have reason to not quite whole-heartedly celebrate the Iraqi elections as a triumph in the march toward universal human liberty and dignity, and find I was right about that. I feel the same way about recent US elections.

This numbnuts, this international joke, was elected (more or less) by We The People. The same People who - more than ever, according to the latest polls - still think Saddam had WMD, and who still think Saddam was in cahoots with OBL to pull off the 9/11 attacks.

Horrifying to realize that President Fuckwit is just a symptom, isn't it?

Assuming there's a substantial power shift in Congress this November, I really think that removing Bush and Cheney needs to become a priority. Conyers, at least, seems determined to get some major truth-telling accomplished.

I will refer to the resulting nightmare as "birth pangs".

don't forget, that phrase has special meaning for the End Timers. Condi's use of it may not have been ignorant of that fact.

What on earth did he mean by "There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian territory because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy"? I don't mean to ask this in a polemical way, I honestly just want to know what he is talking about.

Or how about this: "Isn't it interesting, as a democracy takes hold in Iraq, that Al Qaida steps up its efforts to murder and bomb in order to stop the democracy?"

"We've made it clear that we care about wanton destruction." This reminds me.

There comes a time, like when driving blidfolded thru a school zone or performing open heart surgery with no medical training when words like stupid, incompetent, or willful ignorance no longer are adequate.

Yes, if I were to perform heart surgery I guess you could call me merely incompetent. It would be so generous to the undeserving that it would reflect back on your character more than on mine.

It sad to see Hilzoy's mental and moral faculties have been ravaged by Bush Derangement Syndrome.

"Ahmedinejad, who just, well, won an election in Iran"

From Wikipedia:

There were seven people running for the post out of more than a thousand initial candidates, most of whom were disqualified by the Guardian Council, which holds veto power over all political candidates in Iran

How low does one have to stoop to be unable to distinguish between democracy and the mullah controlled government of Iran?

It appears Bush has plenty of company in La-La Land.


"Personally, I think that the people of the Middle East deserve to be free,"

But you just don't care enough to provide any kind of real leadership. It's a good thing these people have Bush and Blair fighting for them as opposed to just sitting around and wishing for it. Perhaps you prefer them to continue their suffering without any hope? These people have suffered for so long now. They deserve more than cheap talk.

Horrifying to realize that President Fuckwit is just a symptom, isn't it?

I think there are plenty of ways to express your displeasure with the President without resorting to profanity, thank you.

As to the spirit of your comment, I think Mencken said it best: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

It sad to see Hilzoy's mental and moral faculties have been ravaged by Bush Derangement Syndrome.

And I'm sure we can do without this as well. Attempts to debunk hilzoy's argument are welcome. The use of ad hominem is not.

They deserve more than cheap talk.

Cheap talk like praising the Cedar Revolution when it doesn't cost us anything, but refusing to step in to try and preserve the results of that revolution when Israel is undermining the credibility of the Lebanese government?

There were seven people running for the post out of more than a thousand initial candidates, most of whom were disqualified by the Guardian Council, which holds veto power over all political candidates in Iran

so wait, there's some kind of gatekeeping organization that approves candidates before they can appear on the final ballot ? someone should tell the RNC and DNC - sounds like something they'd be good at.

From Josh Marshall, an excerpt from "The Price of Loyalty":

He'd met Sharon briefly, Bush said, when they had flown over Israel in a helicopter on a visit in December 1998. "Just saw him that one time. We flew over the Palestinian camps," Bush said sourly. "Looked real bad down there. I don't see much we can do over there at this point. I think it's time to pull out of that situation."

And that was it, according to [Paul] O'Neill and several other people in the room. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a mess, and the United States would disengage. The combatants would have to work it out on their own.

[Colin] Powell said such a move might be hasty. He remarked on the violence on the West Bank and Gaza and on its roots. He stressed that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and Israeli army. "The consequences of that could be dire," he said, "especially for the Palestinians."

Bush shrugged. "Maybe that's the best way to get some things back in balance."

Powell seemed startled.

"Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things," Bush said.

And with that, the meeting - which took place, BTW, 10 days after Bush took office - focused on Iraq.

Ara -
What on earth did he mean by "There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian territory because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy"? I don't mean to ask this in a polemical way, I honestly just want to know what he is talking about.

I believe he was referring to this:

the June 25 kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit and the violent attacks by Hamas “have precipitated the current events in Gaza.”
He said Hamas, which heads the Palestinian Authority (PA), “should release and return the kidnapped Israeli soldier immediately,” and said the Palestinian Authority has the responsibility to “stop all acts of violence and terror.”
“Hamas has done the opposite,” he said. “It's been complicit in perpetrating violence, terror and hostage-taking.”

USINFO.STATE.GOV

Bec: I can't speak for Ara, but had I asked his question, I would have meant not "what violence is Bush referring to?", but "why would one think that that violence was designed to stop democracy? After all, Hamas just won the elections; it's not as though democracy is somehow threatening them."

hilzoy,
My understanding (such as it is) is that Bush is saying that Hamas, in the act of kidnaping Shalit, was undermining Palestine's newly formed democracy.

Who are these ideologues who are so frightened of democracy? I wouldn't have thought that they include Hamas, which just won the Palestinian elections, or Hezbollah, which did quite well in the recent Lebanese elections

Hamas and Hezbollah are both parties devoted to establishing Islamic theocracy, first in the occupied territories, then in Israel. They may play along wtih democracy while they have to, but they have no desire to see it continue.

Well, Jason, Islamist movements devoted to establishing Islamic theocracy seem to be doing much-much better under democratic systems of Lebanon and Palestine - than under US supported un-democratic systems like Egypt, Saudi and Jordan.

So then, why should they be frightened of democracy? Seems to me it's mostly the US puppet governments in the region who are frightened of democracy.

Not that anything's wrong with that, I'm sure I would've been frightened of democracy too if I lived there.

Democracy's one of the best examples of GIGO ever.

It doesn't guarantee good government, or even sane government. SFAICT, the only advantage democracy has over other forms of government is the "orderly transition" thing: people are able to change who's in charge without resorting to insurrection.

Horrifying to realize that President Fuckwit is just a symptom, isn't it?

Really you should not insult all the Fuckwit's of this world by comparing them to our great leader.


It doesn't guarantee good government, or even sane government. SFAICT, the only advantage democracy has over other forms of government is the "orderly transition" thing: people are able to change who's in charge without resorting to insurrection.

A feature that is not to be underestimated.

Hamas and Hezbollah are both parties devoted to establishing Islamic theocracy, first in the occupied territories, then in Israel. They may play along wtih democracy while they have to, but they have no desire to see it continue.

Posted by: Jason Kuznicki | July 29, 2006 at 12:24 PM

That's funny, I think this about most right-wingers in the US and Europe.

SFAICT, the only advantage democracy has over other forms of government is the "orderly transition" thing: people are able to change who's in charge without resorting to insurrection.

Separation of power is a big damn deal too, except when you have two branches in thrall to a cult or personality. (I'll readily concede that it's possible to have D without SOP, but I don't really see it working vice versa).

cult OF personality

Stewart and Charley: That kind of begs the question, what happens when elections no longer change who's in charge (i.e., the names might be different, but not the agenda), and there's no separation of powers to rein in a lunatic, out of control regime?

That is, at what point does one legitimately conclude the democratic process is irrevocably broken, and opt for insurrection?

Oh, I quite agree that Bush's faith in democracy is badly misplaced and entirely inexplicable. I just think we ought to be clear that undemocratic groups are certainly able to manipulate the process. Indeed, it seems that that's virtually all that happens in the Middle East.

at what point does one . . . opt for insurrection?

Not a moment before one is reasonably sure of prevailing. (And, to mix threads, that requires the application of Powell-like principles to the insurrection. If you can't meet the Powell Doctrine [with only minor adjustments] with your insurrection, you can't have one).

And if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone, anyhow.

at what point does one . . . opt for insurrection?

Not a minute before you've got real evidence that the system doesn't work.

real evidence that the system doesn't work

Yes. To further clarify: doesn't work now, and isn't reasonably likely to work in the near future.

This has probably been said many times before, but what a competent Bush Doctrine would have championed is liberalism, not just democracy and not just freedom. I love freedom and democracy, but I don't think a popularly-elected government that freely chooses to supress speech, freedom of religion, women's rights, etc. is what, say, Paul Wolfowitz sought to achieve. In his view (I suspect), such a regime would not heal the root causes of terrorism.

The term "freedom" when applied to a society's political evolution is awfully slippery and content-free in a way that "liberalism" isn't. Liberalism is commonly understood to imply a bundle of specific good things: protection of individuals and their rights, limited constitutional gov't, free markets, an open society, organizations in society other than the usual State/Party or tribal-affiliated groups, and so on. And while democracy is an important part of modern liberalism, in many instances "democracy" and "liberalism" are opposing vectors. So it is important to endorse the right one, to put first things first.

The irony is that conservative organs have been trashing the "noble title of liberal" (F.A. Hayek's words, I think) domestically for so long, that a Republcian U.S. President cannot say that the interest of the U.S. is to promote liberalism in the Middle East. Which sucks, because now the President can't use the best word to describe our system to the people he is selling it to (the Iraqis, other Arab nations, and Iranians). Nor can he be rigourous or clear to the American people about what exactly they are exporting and why it is vital they do so. So he just praises democracy and freedom in religious & emancipatory language. Now, this is definitely not outside the pale for the U.S. President - there's a long precedent for it - but it's just nowhere enough. In rhetoric he portrays democracy as either a panacea or a deus ex machina. When democracy doesn't lead to desirable ends (for anybody other than militias) then Bush, and the U.S., are rhetorically trapped.

And I don't think this is mere semantics, or a minor quibble. Labels matter. A lot of people spent 2004-2005 talking about "framing". The administrations failure to use the correct label has clouded and distorted its public diplomacy (rhetoric and propaganda), which are important and can be used for good ends. Obviously it doesn't matter anywhere near as much as the concrete situation in Iraq, troop levels, mismanagement of the occupation, and other grim realities and blunders. Still, this matters somehow. I can't articulate exactly why in this space here, but the jarring absence of that word "liberalism" sticks in my craw. So yeah, like abb1, Bush just makes me feel sick. He never really got it, and never will.

In my comment above, I'm definitely not saying the U.S. Iraq policy would have worked, or that we'd be witnessing both peace and a new birth of freedom in the Middle East (and a pony!), if Bush had just used a different word.

I just wanted to point out that he's witnessing his own rhetoric turn against him and paint him into corners (not that he'll take it seriously or be intellectually honest - ha!- about it.) Just saying it didn't have to be this way.

In the continuing Orwell-ization of our language, "democracy" now means "whatever serves the United States." Syn. "good."

Using this definition, Bush's statement becomes coherent.

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