Saturday, January 31, 2009

Policy recommendation

If you believe in miracles, then the overnight transformation of Jaafari and Maliki into reformers and secular nationalists respectively will present you with no particular difficulties.

On a different scale, if you believe in the redemptive power of America, then the fact that a corrupt two-party political system has produced an administration dedicated to fundamental change will seem the most natural thing in the world.

Or that state-racist belligerence can be neutered by the power of wishing that it were so.

It is the times we live in, and it is a powerful story that has again taken hold of Americans--the story of redemption and the healing power of Western institutions and Western goodwill. Leading to these miraculous transformations.

If you look at the stories propounded by the Western experts, you will see that the story of inexorable American-backed redemption and reform is generally the guiding theme--and the inconsistent details relegated to "sub-plots". Here is International Crisis Group talking about the Iraqi elections:
Subplots abound....Yet, the current experiment in democracy holds promise. A new generation of politicians, born through grassroots support in the electoral process and bred in councils given new prerogatives, may start to graduate to national office – if not as soon as the parliamentary elections that are tentatively scheduled for late 2009, then surely in four years’ time and onward.
Nowhere do they mention the views of AlAkhbar reporter Zaid AlZubaidi and others to the effect that anti-sectarianism is merely "this season's fashion", and the Iraqi system will revert to hardcore sectarianism once the electoral process has been used and manipulated to "shuffle the cards and shuffle off the responsibility for the catastrophic failures"...of the last four years. You'd think it was a hypothesis worth considering, but the problem is that it runs directly counter to the story of American-facilitated progress and reform, and we can't have that. Best to keep the status quo and propound a story of eventual progress.

Then there is the Obama change-we-can-believe-in story, about which the less said the better. Except perhaps to note that although the expert explainers admit that "subplots abound", still the hypothesis that this is merely another manifestation of "this season's fashion" is not allowed, either in the corporate media or among the "progressives".

And of course there is Israel, where already the experts are plunging into the labyrinth of "peace negotiations" between Arab tyrants and collaborators on one side, and a belligerent state that is between apartheit and fascism on the other, and yet the hypothesis of working for the de-Zionization of that state, and the establishment of a single state with equal rights for everyone, is either ignored or roundly rejected. The aim is very simple: Status quo, albeit with many sub-plots.

What a lot of people think they see in all of these cases is change, democratization, a process leading to stable peace. The other hypothesis is that what people think they see is an illusion: The American-instituted sectarian system in Iraq will end up being reinforced; America's prioritization of military force in Afghanistan/Pakistan and elsewhere will also be reinforced, keeping military considerations on the front burner; and American support for the Zionists will continue to ensure that the region remains in turmoil from that side too.

Theoretically one could argue the two sides. But the fact of the matter is that practically all discussions in English leave out the second hypothesis altogether, and deal only what is described above as the "subplots"--subplots on the way to a better world under American leadership. The more you read other languages, the more you will see the other side of the story.

So my recommendation for domestic policy is a much more radical focus on education than is being proposed anywhere. Starting with a recognition of the existing damage and the potential future damage that can be done by a nation with the greatest destructive power in history, coupled with the brains and the narrowness of understanding that come from our ancient myths of self-righteousness.


Blogger Shirley Sunman said...

It's award time.
Many thanks for keeping us updated on political rumblings. I was given the butterfly award for coolest blog and am now passing it onto five other people, of which you're one.

11:55 PM  
Blogger badger said...

thank you, that's very nice of you.

eat your heart out Juan Cole

6:07 AM  
Blogger Juan Moment said...

So my recommendation for domestic policy is a much more radical focus on education than is being proposed anywhere.

I couldn't agree more Badger. Better, as in more honest and self-reflecting education is one of the pillars which would carry the progress needed to create more sensible times.

Also I'd like to join wgaw in expressing my gratitude for all the work you are putting into your blog. Essential reading. Much appreciated.

9:23 PM  
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