Thursday, March 17, 2011

People Power vs. Washington

People Power vs. Washington by Juan Cole

"The claim that George W. Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq somehow opened up the Middle East to reform is an affront to the brave crowds that have risked their lives to change the American-backed order in that part of the world. Bush’s invasion was followed by no significant reforms in the region, whereas the outbreak of people power today has scared autocratic regimes into making unheard-of concessions. Iraq itself is no shining beacon on a hill for the people of the Middle East, but rather is a target of protests and an object lesson among the protesters of what to avoid.


The handful of powerful neoconservatives in Washington who plotted the war on Iraq never pushed democratization as a goal until after it became clear that their primary justifications for military action were false. Even then, their notion of democracy involved dissolving Iraqi unions and gaining promotions for their Iraqi political cronies, who promptly created a secret police force. The constitution crafted at their insistence was almost universally rejected by Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, setting the stage for a civil war. Prime Minister Maliki has ruled as a soft strongman, creating tribal levies loyal to himself and asserting control over the Ministry of Defense and the officer corps."


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