Monday, November 13, 2006

Iraq, just another Wild Wild West

anna de brux in a comment in mlq3 on Nov. 10, 2006 said: “America must now forget that we no longer live in the era of the wild wild west. Gone are the days of bang bang you’re dead kind of era.”

On the other hand, Newsstand had the following post on the same day:
But after Dean (Jeorge Bocobo) spoke, glowingly, of the results of the 1912 elections, which swept Princeton professor Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic party to the White House and eventually led to a liberalization of US colonial policy regarding the Philippines, I was left wondering. Is Dean suggesting the following: that democracy (the neoconservatives’ central if rather belated rationalization for Rummy’s war) will only take root in benighted Iraq if the Democrats are in charge?
The Anglos who came to tame the wilderness of the New World were “settlers” and did not consider themselves as aggressors even as they cleared the Native Americans off their lands. To these colonists, settlement was not an invasion but a matter of what later has come to be regarded as “manifest destiny.” So, when the Indians struck back to retrieve their lands, the Anglos viewed the Indian attacks as aggression to the survival and security of the settlement and a continuing settler encroachment or invasion upon the Indian lands as defensive action.

The rich lands of which the Natives were dispossessed let loose hedonistic and worldly ambition among the pioneers whose godly vision was originally to set up a theocracy in a new Jerusalem of the New World. The pious Puritans soon fell into expansive and acquisitive ethos and eventually into some sort of paganism, or the pursuit of a heaven on earth via reckless capitalism.

Aside from the realization that expansion means more lands of milk and honey, the settlers also learned to rationalize their greed as a noble mission to civilize the conquered. This dual vision endured during the exploitation of the western frontiers and the conquest of the Philippines, America’s first empire.

How does this settlers’ perspective, best exemplified in Robert Kagan’s Dangerous Nation, compare today to the pronouncement by President George W. Bush that the security of the United States depends on the success of democracy in the Middle East?

American foreign policy ideologues believe that wherever a democratic government is born American security interests are likely to be served or advanced; on the other hand, undemocratic regimes are deemed a threat to such security interests as well as to world peace. This ideology is repackaged in the Bush Doctrine as follows:
The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. (President Bush’s speech at his Second Inaugural, January 2005).
An old blog entry of mine is probably relevant:
The root word of “pagan” according to [Dan Brown of the Da Vinci Code fame], “actually reached back to the Latin paganus, meaning country-dwellers. ‘Pagans’ were literally unindoctrinated country-folk who clung to the old, rural religions of Nature worship. In fact so strong was the Church’s fear of those who live in the rural villes that the once innocuous word for ‘villager’ -villain- came to mean wicked soul.”

Today, “America paganism” is less related to lack of religiosity than to evangelical faith in market sovereignty, which hearkens back to classical liberalism (which has championed unbridled economic freedom.)
And another, in reaction to one of Dean Bocobo’s pieces, reads thus:
. . . Neo-conservatives are in a nutshell romanticists who believe in the “civilizing mission” of exporting US-style market democracy, violently if necessary. They are to be distinguished from the Realists (of the Kissinger mold).

Realism is basically a geopolitical theory, heretofore the dominant one unfortunately, according to which states (democratic or undemocratic, fundamentalist Christian or Islamofascist) are selfish actors and will seek domination for security and survival.

US Realists are in a sense amoral . . ; for them, it’s ok to cuddle dictators like Marcos and King Saud because realists are concerned with the power (or hegemony) of the US and righting wrongs like extra-judicial killings or even genocide is not their duty.

(President Bush) is a Realist if he invaded Iraq because of threat of WMD from Saddam. He is a Neocon if his mission is to civilize an ancient civilization, which had preceded Christianity.
I then began to doubt the dominance of the Realists in another entry:
Neoconservatives are the new rulers over the foreign policy of the United States of America. Their obeisance to Western culture and civilization such as the universality of US-style democracy, the core of their beliefs, borders on piety, even fanaticism, often involving the willingness to kill and be killed for it. Neocons, seeing themselves on the side of righteousness and combating evil, advocate the exporting of modernity and democratic values via the “conversion” (regime change) of the uncivilized and undemocratic (the “infidels”). And holding the pursuit of common ground as appeasement of the enemy, they instead resort to imperial aggression through the unilateral use of economic and military hard power (“violence”).
Will the Realists regain their dominance in American foreign policy as a result of the Republican mid-term elections debacle?

If history is any guide at all, there appears just one intellectual project steering the ideological trajectory of American survival and national security that blurs the narrow partisanship of Republicans and Democrats. Simply put, the rhetoric of this ism asserts that American democracy is secured if the Wild Wild West in many parts of the world are converted to democracies. Unfortunately, by this democracy is meant pro-American, regardless of whether in the truest sense of the word it is a democracy or not.

Hence, if the Iraq War is seen by foreign policy elites as both a lucrative venture and a noble task, the “bang bang you’re dead kind of” course will stay notwithstanding a new Democratic U.S. Congress. In all likelihood, only a people-powered anti-war movement of a Vietnam era proportion will overrule the obtaining elite consensus of Wilsonian internationalism.

9 Comments:

Anonymous diliman72 said...

people-power?

November 14, 2006 12:40 AM  
Blogger cvj said...

I think you're right on the 'people power' part. As there is no analogue to the State when it comes to international institutions and imperatives, collective action in the public sphere has a greater role to play in counteracting the anarchy encouraged by the USA (of the 'neocon' or 'realist' flavor). This is the conclusion reached by John S. Dryzek in his book 'Deliberative Democracy'.

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