Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Leftist Hypocrisy Over Iraq

I am preparing a much larger and fuller post on the Iraq War and my opinions of the conflict nearly 8 years since its inception, but for now I just felt the need to make a smaller post on two particular issues I find very galling in regards to Iraq and the opponents of the war.

I was just briefly tuned into a blog tv session of a user I am a fan of when the issue of Iraq came up. The session was with a few other people of a lefty persuasion who fairly unambiguously rejected any notion of internationalism and were enthusiastic (explicitly stated) supporters of isolationism. What was at least refreshing in the conversation was an absence of the usual conspiracy theories and hysteria that relates to the 'New World Order' or the oil companies' plans for the Middle-East. Instead there was an unambiguously pessimistic view of the practicality of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What I found particularly interesting was the explicit use of the term ethnography, to relate culture (and as such necessarily history and tradition) to the political practice that resulted and thrived within that environment, in this referring to the possibility of democracy in Iraq.

One of the things that is always absent from the discussions on MultiCulturalism and Mass Immigration is the origin of these 'diverse' agents of progress. It's all very well and good preaching the value of a diverse demographic makeup if you worldview is limited to a rosy Middle-England bourgeois upbringing that struggles to acknowledge a significant separation amongst peoples that goes beyond language and cuisine. For example let's take the following statement: 'The Iraqi people do not want democracy.' There are numerous ways that this can and has been spun. This is also used to refer to the fact that democracy would not only not be the most ideal situation in Iraq but is quite literally impossible to ferment.

If it is true that there is a cultural clash between the concept and practice of democracy amongst certain people of this world then in order for our country to remain a democracy following this logic, we can not allow mass immigration from undemocratic areas. If you believe that the Iraqi people are not capable of democracy or do not want/ believe in it, then you must also say to remain internally consistent that people with those same views should not enter the United Kingdom if we wish to remain a democracy with everyone participating in political life positively. Why is it that the anti-democratic extreme members of the Muslim community domestically, are marginalised and played down, and those abroad elevated and essentially supported by the left?

Of course you won't get anyone that makes up the Multi-Culti consensus to agree to this. Democracy apparently cannot work in large parts of the Muslims world, but we should regardless allow massive levels of immigration from these same areas we deem irreparably undemocratic to enter and participate in the make up of our nations. What's worse is that in reply to this they may even say that change would necessarily need to be internal and there may be indigenous democratic reformist elements within these nations. If that is the case, then why would we drain these areas of their potential reformers of the values these people are supposed to believe in. The same applies to the leftists that attempt to justify MultiCulturalism with pleas to extreme Neo-Liberal/ Thatcherite economic arguments. These namely range from the idea of stealing the most intelligent and skilled members of the population from the third world to enhance our own economies, and immigration practices that destroy the prospects of the white working class within this nation while shamelessly benefiting the rich and big business. It was supposed to be Mrs Thatcher that said that there was no society and that we're all only essentially economic agents, which in regards to the immigration discussion has become the dogmatic position of the modern left.

My support for the Iraq War has always been twofold. First off all, despite my skepticism over the nation-building project that ensued, I believe the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was a legitimate matter of security interest. I am perfectly open to the argument that the threat Saddam posed could have been dealt with in a different manner, especially one that would not have left the USA so isolated in world opinion but that does not mean I should not support and hope for the best outcome with what we've got in the here and now. My second reason for supporting Iraq was however ill-judged, naive, poorly planned, idealistic and unrealistic the project of nation-building may have been, the conspiracy theories were wrong and Operation Iraqi Freedom was a legitimate attempt at installing democracy. As bad an idea as it may or may not have been, it would have been best for all parties concerned that the mission has succeeded. It says a lot that when asking a supposedly left-wing, internationalist individual if they support the American effort in Iraq or more specifically hope that their missions at least succeeds, they will often say no. I repeat, however stupid one may have thought that the initial decision was, the efforts to build democracy should surely be supported. Most members of the left, still to this day do not understand the attempts by Nick Cohen to instill some re-evaluation amongst the left over their position on Iraq, because they believe that he expects them to say that the Iraq War was a good idea or the best means of dealing with a problem. Instead, what he really expects are for people to support those people in Iraq, a great many of whom were against the war, who are now after 2003, whatever the faults of Bush and Blair, attempting to build a social democracy in their country with rights for women and gays, and the guarantee of freedom of speech etc.

I would compare someone who disagreed with the decision taken in 2003 who out of spite/ stupidity decided to support the insurgency in whatever form they came as a result, to pacifists in the Second World War who opposed the conflict but in response to the bombing of German cities, declared their support for Nazism. It should surely be possible to disagree with your own government, while supporting democratic movements in foreign countries.

The stupidity of the nation-building project, or the accepted narrative of its stupidity leaves us and the left with many necessary alternatives that most of the anti-war movement would equally oppose. For example, taking no military action until the last possible moment. While I agree that more could have been done in the build up to Iraq, if people felt that there was a danger posed by Saddam through WMD's, then whether he ended up having them or not is irrelevant because if you believe there was a danger, then either way it would not make sense to wait until he had those WMD's and had already passed them on/ posed a larger threat. Nonetheless the idea that a foreign regime may pose a danger or be in bed with the wrong people is a possibility not even considered by most of the modern left; Exhibit A look at Iran. If we don't use tough negotiations then how about sanctions? Well the left criticised America severely for its sanctions during the 1990s. Amy Goodman is a particularly dislikable, self-righteous member of the anti-war brigade who interrogated Bill Clinton on this matter in an interview with him on Democracy Now, and Clinton made what I thought was the fairly reasonable case that had sanctions denied the necessary supplies that cost the lives of Iraqis then why did Saddam have so many palaces built in that period while his people were starving? Even if it were the case that the sanctions cost the lives of the Iraqi people, is that not the fault of Saddam? Would the Americans not subsequently be blamed if the Iraqi state used those weapons acquired without sanctions on the people of Kuwait again for instance? If we fund domestic groups that are favourable to us we are 'meddling' where we don't belong and practicing 'cultural imperialism'. If we supported those regimes, even if it was to stop a far greater evil in the form of the Soviet Union for instance then when are also criticised. Not to mention that in the case of places like Rwanda where the United States did nothing, we are also criticised as if action should have been taken.

In other words to date, in youtube comment sections and at left-wing seminars you will routinely hear the left criticise America for supporting dictatorships, overthrowing dictatorships, funding pro-authoritarian militants, funding democratic revolutionaries, using sanctions, not using sanctions, interfering, not interfering. In my eyes as badly handled as the war in Iraq may have been the discourse that it produced in a swell of changing paradigms created after 9/11 have been just as poor if not worse than the ideas that spawned the supposedly terrible adventure in Mesopotamia. This leaves us in a bad state of affairs from an intellectual standpoint and an even worse state of affairs when it comes to dealing with the new and pressing issues of today, namely those of rogue regimes like Iran where even fellow Muslims in the region desperately wish for America to act which has sadly become paralysed by this breakdown in sensible discussion.

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