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Neoconservative Fight for Democracy

Neoconservatives, and especially the biggest neoconservative, President George W. Bush, favor spreading democracy as a way to fight terrorism. How many times did I hear Bush talking about a democratic Iraq? Enough to make me sick. Did I ever hear a word about a democratic Saudi Arabia? Or a democratic Pakistan?

No, we are constantly being told that Saudi Arabia is our strong ally. We should not bug strong allies about democracy. Pakistan is a dictatorship formed by a military man Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a coup against a democratic government. Bush says Musharraf is our most important ally. Evidently we need a dictator to fix the country so that it could be a democracy. Don't you understand this simple logic?

Bush sticks by Musharraf because he is helping us in the "war on terror." Helping? He made a deal with the Taliban that enabled them to be left alone. When Musharraf kicked the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry out of office, Bush said nothing. How can one criticize an ally?

Well, the deposed Chief Justice toured the country and got those who actually believe in democracy upset and aroused. Then on July 20, 2007 we got this in the news:

Pakistan's high court on Friday delivered a stinging rebuke to President Pervez Musharraf, reinstating the country's chief justice four months after Musharraf tried to oust him and jeopardizing the president's plan to hold on to power.

Not so good for Bush's ally. However, times change. Recently ex-premier Benazir Bhutto contacted Musharraf to make a deal: she would come home and run for premier and he could run for president, provided he quits his generalship. This turn of events Bush likes better:

An agreement between Musharraf and Bhutto would be welcomed in Washington, where Bush administration officials have been pushing for an alliance of moderates in Pakistan to battle rising forces of extremism.

Although the United States had not been actively involved in the negotiations, it had been prodding the two sides to come together and had helped to facilitate the talks, according to people familiar with the U.S. role.

Does neocon Bush thinks that making a deal with a dictator will lead to democracy? Or is all this talk about democracy a big lie, a bright fog to blind the people and keep them from understanding what's happening.

Why on earth is Bush doing this, when he has another choice:

An announcement by another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, that he will return to Pakistan on Sept. 10 in defiance of Musharraf added to the uncertainty about Pakistan's political direction.

Sharif said he is against Musharraf, who is a tyrant. He is against making any deals with Musharraf. He favors democracy. He wants to use the increased sentiment in Pakistan for democracy to topple Musharraf and open Pakistan society.

Why does Bush pick Musharraf to support? Why does he not pick democracy?

Posted by Paul Siegel at August 31, 2007 4:58 PM
Comments
Comment #231235

Paul

President Bush was/is attempting to modify a U.S. policy that goes back more than 60 years, at least back as far as FDR meeting Saudi King Abdulaziz on the Great Bitter Lake. This is the famous picture. Thing cannot change overnight.

It is not always possible to do exactly as you would wish. Sometimes the choices are limited and you cannot get the option you think you can. I am not sure that the likely alternative in Pakistan or Saudi is democracy. Look what happened in Iran. Revolutions have a way of getting out of hand and producing results worse than the original situation and much worse than slower change.

Greater democracy is a good goal set. How we get there from here is harder to determine, and sometimes what seems like a straight line is not the shortest course.


But just because you cannot do everything does not mean you should do nothing. YOu should give Bush credit for making democracy a higher priority goal, even if his reach sometimes exceeds his grasp.


Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2007 5:19 PM
Comment #231246

Jack, your defense of Bush is akin to swaying a prostitute from her/his immoral ways by killing them. Kind of defeats the purpose of swaying them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 31, 2007 7:04 PM
Comment #231249

David

Things take time.

You do not want to go from one tyranny to another or from tyranny to anarchy.

Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2007 7:24 PM
Comment #231252

Jack, they take an awful lot more time when badly approached and mismanaged. Sometimes, acting is worse than not acting. That has certainly proved to be the case in Iraq to this point, on economic, moral, and ethical grounds, unless you can dismiss the costs in lives and treasure as not germane to the cost-benefit assessment.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 31, 2007 7:35 PM
Comment #231257

David

There were lots of reasons we went into Iraq. Some of our assumptions of the time (such as WMD) turned out not to be valid. Others (such as Saddam’s general destabilizing) were valid. Some things (the breakdown of sanctions and the oil for food scandal) turned out to be worse than we thought. The post-war situation was mismanaged. We moved to the reconstrution stage before we had actually finished the conflict stage.

We won the military fight, but we did not do well with the consolidation. Our new strategy, that includes pacifications, holding the ground and building, is working. If we succeed, it will be worth it.

No matter what we might have done, we can only choose now what we can do. We are on the right track. If the Dems do not pull out the rug, America will help create an Iraq that is reasonably democratic, stable and not a threat. For that region, it will be essentially novo ordo seclorum. It is worth the risk, especially considering the alternatives. If we leave too soon, there will be an ocean of blood, some of it ours.

Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2007 8:28 PM
Comment #231258
I am not sure that the likely alternative in Pakistan or Saudi is democracy. Look what happened in Iran.

…Or what happened in Lebanon when Bush helped get Hezbollah elected. Or in Palestine where Bush got Hamas elected. Or Iraq, for that metter, where Bush put Iranian-backed Shiite militia chiefs in charge.

Yup. Free elections without democratic institutions are like a box of chocolates…

Posted by: American Pundit at August 31, 2007 8:29 PM
Comment #231261

AP

It depends on the alternatives.

Bush may have been respected democracy too much in Iraq. Perhaps we should have interfered and tried to manipulate the result. But we have to consider the alternatives we would have gotten with an alternative course.

I See that Dems are becomming born again authoritarians in foreign policy, prefering to maintain or even introduce strong men in power as long as they do not seem to be pro-American. This is also not a good,stable or sustainable arrangement.

The Dem line seems to be to demand Scandinavian levels of accountability from allies and none from opponents, and we wonder why leaders around the world find it more convenient to be U.S. opponents.

I agree that traits such as rule of law, solid property rights and strong institutions are essential for a functioning democracy. Mere elections are not enough. So, how do we get those things?

Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2007 8:58 PM
Comment #231263

I for one do not believe that Bush is a neocon. The neocon plan for Iraq was strike quick, take out Saddam, replace him with Chalibi and get the oil. I really do believe that Bush is the one that throwed the monkey wrench into their plan. I think that this whole democracy thing in Iraq was Bush’s demand. I also think that Bush might have been sucessful if he had realized that the Rumsfeld forces were totally inadequate to accomplish Bush’s objective. If Bush had listened to the military experts instead of Cheney and Rumsfeld he would probably have succeded in Iraq.

George was not the neocon. Jeb was the neocon. Jeb was the member of PNAC. Jeb was planning the invasion with Cheney before the 2000 elections. George chose Cheney as his running at Jeb’s insistance.

Posted by: jlw at August 31, 2007 10:04 PM
Comment #231264

Jack, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Perhaps you could provide a concrete example.

Mere elections are not enough.

Interesting. That’s not what you said when you defended Bush’s efforts to hold elections in Palestine and Lebanon and Iraq. Why the flip-flop now?

BTW, anybody who wants to dig deeper on the subject should read Fareed Zakariah’s The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.

It was written before the invasion of Iraq BTW and covers many of the challenges of exporting democracy. None of the problems we encountered in Lebanon, Iraq or Palestine were unforseen; just ignored.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 31, 2007 10:04 PM
Comment #231271

BUSH’S efforts to hold elections? I was unaware that we controlled Palestine or Lebanon. Beyond that, your alternative was what?

We rushed Iraq for domestic & international political reasons. Once again, your alternative would have been to keep the provisional authority until when?

Zakaria’s book is very interesting. If you read it carefully, he says that liberty is more important than democracy. He also implies that the best government many countries had was when the Brits ran the places. They provided liberty, but not democracy. We probably do not have such options these days.

What is it with the Dems new love of authoritarian stability? That was our Near East Policy for 60 years. It worked okay some places, but mostly just held things down.

Democracy will not work all the time, but it is a valid ultimate goal all the time. The Dems do lots of stupid things because they hate Bush. They perhaps should be a little more circumspect with tossing out democracy just because they think it is a Bush priority.

Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2007 10:52 PM
Comment #231278
BUSH’S efforts to hold elections?

Yes. It was widely reported that Bush pushed Israel into allowing Palestinian elections and he publicly took credit for facilitating all those elections.

That was our Near East Policy for 60 years. It worked okay some places, but mostly just held things down.

And your alternative is better how? Things are far worse now and won’t get any better within any reasonable time frame, if ever. In fact, it’s far more likely that the impetus Bush gave to Muslim extremists in those countries will spread serious unrest throughout the rest of the region.

Both Parties were always very pragmatic about foreign policy. The only exceptions were Carter and GW Bush and both were disasters — one turning Iran over to the hard-line Islamists and the other turning Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine over to them as well.

I applaud the fact that Bush is no longer pushing for free elections in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. I don’t know why you’d be for that, Jack, knowing it would turn those countries over to hard-line Islamists as well.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 31, 2007 11:11 PM
Comment #231290


Jack: Sometimes it just doesn’t make since to rebuild in a place where disaster is always occuring. But alas, Harry Reid has capitulated. Bush will get his $197 billion with no troop withdrawl strings attached.

Posted by: jlw at August 31, 2007 11:50 PM
Comment #231294

I never agreed with the whole “planting democracy” charade. It’s something that can be done with military action in some circumstances, as happened in Germany and Japan after WWII, but there are numerous reasons why such a thing is not really comparable to the Middle East in general, and Iraq in particular.

For one thing, Germany already had a native tradition of democracy to draw on. And Japan had a completely homogeneous ethnic population and an extremely strong sense of national identity that made it a lot easier. Not to mention the fact that both populations were completely beaten and demoralized by the effects of the war and much more pliable as a result.

But as for the “neocons” and their ill-considered Middle East democracy project, Paul is simply wrong about what they intended with Iraq. The idea was to plant a democratic foothold there and create a model Arab democracy. You don’t have to agree with them any more than I do, but that was the idea—to start with Iraq, through military intervention, and nurture a democracy which would then create a domino effect across the entire Middle East when the populations of places like Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia came to envy the success of Iraq.

That sounds like a joke now—the idea of Iraq’s neighbors envying them. But you only had to listen to what the “neocons” were saying to realize that that was the original plan. But this particular “neocon” fantasy was never and still isn’t the only or even the most important reason for our actions in Iraq.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at September 1, 2007 12:04 AM
Comment #231299
But this particular “neocon” fantasy was never and still isn’t the only or even the most important reason for our actions in Iraq.

So what is the most important reason now, LO? The idea that a few hundred foreign al-Qaeda fighters will take over Iraq is laughable — in fact, we saw Sunnis in Anbar Province turn on the terrorists as soon as we shifted troops from there to Baghdad.

Is it because we’re afraid to let genocide happen? It didn’t bother us much in Rwanda or Darfur.

So why, LO?

Posted by: American Pundit at September 1, 2007 12:39 AM
Comment #231316

Jack said: “There were lots of reasons we went into Iraq. Some of our assumptions of the time (such as WMD) turned out not to be valid.”

I am so tired of that Republican BS. I read the CIA fact book of 2001 before the invasion, and it was abundantly clear Hussein’s history of CYA would not permit him to give pretext for being removed from power is such an idiotic as keeping WMD around for inspectors to uncover.

Turned out, he ejected investigators out of fear they would learn he DIDN’T have them which would make him appear weak to neighboring nations, or, he realized that Bush would never accept they weren’t there if every grain of sand in Iraq were overturned looking for them. You can’t logically prove a negative. He could NEVER prove he didn’t have them. But, the Mushroom cloud was NEVER, EVER a potential reality, and the Bush administration damned well knew that. Our own CIA reported publicly he didn’t have intercontinental ballistic missile capability, so don’t ask me to believe the CIA failed to inform the President of this fact. The President is a member of the public too, you know.

All this Republican defensiveness over what everyone else has already accepted as false, is truly a waste of energy and political capital. Republicans would do well to just admit their party completely screwed the pooch, and they are taking their party back to logic and reason and fact and reality, as a first step toward regaining credibility.

Cause, man, they have completely lost it in terms of anything remotely close to a plurality of opinion in this country. Back to the minority wilderness with your party. Who knows, in the wilderness your party might be collectively visited by God and granted a healthy respect for truth, logic, and reason, and find their way back. It happened for Moses.

The young people today in schools will be reading about this Bush and Republican period for decades as a tragic period in American history for our Constitution, liberties, economy, divisiveness, lies, wasted lives, and wasted treasure which will cause suffering to be witnessed in their own lifetimes as a result. And Democrats will end this war, and erect a memorial to our Iraq soldiers, and it stand as a permanent reminder of this Republican rule and its many failures and losses and costs for Americans now and into the future for decades.

A near doubling of the national debt in 10 years as a result of Republican policies. Oh, yes, many of tomorrow’s troubles for our children will be traced back to this period between 1994 and 2008 as when the troubles began. And trust in Republicans will be excruciatingly difficult for the GOP to recover in the context of the next generation as adults. Mark my words. Watch what happens to text books in the next 6 years. Once the province of Republican dominance and influence, it too will be the target of revocation over the next few years.

This period of Republican rule marks that reversing point of that great social and political pendulum which inevitably reaches its peak, and falls under its own weight back the other way.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2007 5:23 AM
Comment #231320

Paul,

Nice piece. It is terffic for discussion, but is does presuppose that GWB knows what he is doing as “president of the US.” I presupposes that his ignorance and arrogance and fascist attitude won’t get in the way of his serving the American people, which is what he was appointed once and elected once to do.

Your commentary presupposes that GWB is not more concerned about his “legacy” on the world stage as an effectual “leader” than he is with what is good for Americans, our country, and our government.

It is difficult to address the very cogent questions you pose (rhetorical though they may be) because the issues surround someone so inept, so illogical, so ignorant, so stupid, so incredible dangerous, and so lacking of any type of personal or professional credibility.

The American people are going to have to ride this moron out unless of course republican members of congress came to their senses or their constituency puts relentless pressure on them to act in best interest of Americans and NOT politics. I don’t look for this to happen since John Warner’s best seems to be soft lobs at the “president” concerning the Iraq War. Republicans seem far more concerned with routing out homosexuality in their party than they do with serving the American people. This sort of politics plays right into the hands of a lame duck (actually, just plain lame) “president.”

Posted by: Kim-Sue at September 1, 2007 9:07 AM
Comment #231356

Amen Kim-Sue, and well said as always, with an accurate summation.
These guys are falling all over themselves to eat one of their own, not for being a dirt bag, but for daring to “come out of the closet”. In the meantime, we continue our trip to hell in a handbasket with nothing but idiots leading us.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 1, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #231375

I find it quite interesting that not one conservative bothered to post on this liberal lecture and self-rightous blathering. All you choir-boys are singing the same tune but the church is empty. I failed to find one positive statement in any of the above posts. This is a sad, angry, and elitist gathering of back-slappers.

Posted by: Jim at September 1, 2007 3:38 PM
Comment #231388


Jim: We have Jack and we appreciate him a lot even though we usually give him a hard time. In case you haven’t noticed, it is getting harder to find conservatives to defend their point of view. I noticed you didn’t bother to do so.

Posted by: jlw at September 1, 2007 4:21 PM
Comment #231391

Jim, your comment is a little confusing. There is more than one post, from more than one conservative on here. Guess you’d have to consider them part of the “self-righteous blatherers too”.
Perhaps you would consider that the column demonstrates clearly that a lot of people are absolutely fed up with the state of affairs under this administration. A lot of rats have jumped ship lately, I’m personally hoping and keeping fingers crossed that the head rat will bail out as well.
All in all, this doesn’t stray far from what seems to be the predominant opinion of the general public.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at September 1, 2007 4:29 PM
Comment #231399

Democracy in Saudi Arabia would be a disaster. It would go straight to the Islamists. The country holds telethons to raise money for Hamas, for crying out loud. (Any ideas on why we gave them $20 billion in guns?http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2007/07/30/starr.saudi.cell.affl) But then, we did arm Saddam and al Qaeda. And 20% of the 9/11 hijackers did NOT come from Saudi Arabia.

Bush’s foreign policy is completely psycho.

Posted by: Silima at September 1, 2007 5:31 PM
Comment #231404

Jim,

Nice to see a conservative come out of the woodwork. Where have you guys been (besides Jack)?

Posted by: chris2x at September 1, 2007 5:40 PM
Comment #231408

Senator Craig did not “come out of the closet” and still denies he’s gay but I guess his fellow Republicans didn’t believe him. Poor Larry Craig, abandoned by the GOP like a smelly piece of shit. In the meantime, Republican Senators are standing by David Vitter when he had actually committed the sin of adultery and with a prostitute too while they dropped Craig, a 25 year veteran of the house and senate, for trying to solicit sex. Gotta love those culture warriors and where they are trying to take us.

Which is a bigger problem for families, divorce, adultery, or soliciting gay sex? While the first two are much more prevalent and wreak much more damage on families Republicans say little of their own hypocrisy. Same for destroying sacred embryos in fertility clinics. If American’s can’t see the true nature of Republican family values by now I’m not sure they ever will.

Posted by: chris2x at September 1, 2007 5:57 PM
Comment #231420

chris2x, please dispense with the baiting. Critique the message, not the messengers. This should be sufficient warning.

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at September 1, 2007 9:10 PM
Comment #231509

Watchblog Editor,

What is the best way to respond to your comment? I have some serious questions to ask you but I don’t want to stray any more off topic here.

Posted by: chris2x at September 2, 2007 1:49 PM
Comment #231511


Paul S.: I think that the word you are looking for that describes it all is BUSINESS, and in particular, the oil business.

Who provides the bulk of the reelection money in America these days? Business!

What have the Democrats done about the War in Iraq? They have given a whole lot of lip service to the American public who are against continuing the war. Nearly every piece of legislation passed for the continuation of the war has many Democratic signatures on it.

We have every right to condemn the Neocons for fabricating the evidence that got us into the war but, the Democrats, for the most part, have been co-conspiraters despite the words they issue for public consumption.

The Democratically controlled Congress passed the Surge legislation. They claimed that they were getting accountability for their efforts. Although the Surge has produced some minor success in a few areas, for the most part is has been a failure.

What will the Democrats do about this lack of accountability? Before the end of this month, they will pass legislation giving Bush another $200 billion for the war. Even if they proclaim a political victory because they manage to get a few withdraw strings attached to the legislation, those strings will only apply to the 5,000 to 10,000 troups that the military say’s it has to pull out by next spring.

I hope I am wrong about what the Democratic Congress Is going to do, but I doubt that I am.

It is just business.

Among the many failures pointed out in the GAO report. one is the inability of the democratically elected government of Iraq to pass important legislation. Chief amoung this legislation is the oil bill which will hand over the oil of Iraq to primarily American oil companies in such a manner that those companies will reap phenomenal profits.

Is there anyone that can point out any democratically elected government on the face of this planet that would sell it’s primary resource, a resource that it’s nation is totally dependent upon for the nations livelihood, to the lowest bidder? If left to their own devices, the Iraqi’s can get a hell of a better deal for their oil than the Americans are offering. The Russians would give Iraq a better deal and the Chinese would probably out bid everyone if they were allowed to bid. There is a very powerful faction in this country that is willing to stay in Iraq till Hell freezes over if necessary to prevent the Iraqi’s from having the FREEDOM to control their oil resource.

Posted by: jlw at September 2, 2007 2:20 PM
Comment #231603

Chris2x, managing_editor@watchblog.com

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at September 3, 2007 2:45 AM
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