To make Iraq seem better, Bush/Rice make America seem worse

How many times have we heard President Bush and his twin brain, the cute if overrated national security advisor turned into the triumphantly narcissistic and even more overrated secretary of state, utter the moronic and offensive comment that we shouldn’t worry too much about the problems in Iraq, since America has also had lots of problems, e.g., women didn’t have the vote for 140 years after Independence. The truly repellent idea that Bush and his twin brain are advancing is that the absence of women’s suffrage and full legal equality for 140 years in what happened to be the freest country in the history of the world, with the greatest degree of female equality and freedom and genuine respect for women of any country in the history of the world (please read Toqueville’s admiring discussion of the America of the 1830s, where, he tells us, an unescorted young woman could travel from one end of this vast country to the other and never once be bothered or treated rudely by a man), is the equivalent of totalitarian Islamic sharia, where women are virtually chattel, where the holiest book says, “woman is a field, plow her whenever you wish,” and where a man can divorce his wife by merely saying to her, “I divorce thee!” These anti-Americans—for that is what I call Bush and Rice, make no mistake about it, it is a view I will back up anywhere—are so set on “normalizing” Iraq’s backwardness that they are willing to drag our own country down to the level of a semi-primitive tribal country in order to make the hellish situation in that country seem ok, and thus make their own disastrous policy there seem a success.

By the way, have you seen a single mainstream conservative protest the Bush/Rice debasing of America? No! The conservatives are all sycophantic courtiers to the president, or else frightened little mice. Yes, of course, they will criticize Bush over this point or that (as they rush to tell you when you call them courtiers); but how mild, how unserious, how inconsequential those criticisms are!

I bring all this up because, in a demonstration of the bizarre lockstep world that the conservative movement has become, a Wall Street Journal editorial this week begins with these words:

That free Iraqis are taking another week to write their new constitution is no great cause for alarm. There were a few glitches 200 years ago in Philadelphia too.

In other words, America in 1789 was imperfect, it had slavery, and women were denied the franchise (which of course no one seriously considered at the time) and lot of other opportunities, and therefore we should see the problems in Iraq in the perspective of our own historic flaws.

Is there not something Soviet-like about an entire political movement, with all its media organs and prominent spokesmen and well-funded think tanks, all chanting in unison the same false arguments, talking points, tropes, and turns of phrase?

By the way, when I say “In order to make Iraq look better, they make America look worse,” I am touching on the argument from my article, “How to Oppose Liberal Intolerance.” In that essay, I show how the left-liberal belief in substantive equality automatically leads to a double standard favoring the bad; so that the more disfunctional or destructive the Other becomes as compared with ourselves, the more its sins and failings are covered up, and the more our sins are exaggerated, so as to eliminate the actual difference between the two. This is what Bush/Rice and their team have done vis à vis Iraq and America. The more backward, primitive, and murderously chaotic Iraq is, the more Bush and the neocons must talk Iraq up and put America down, in order to place the two countries on the same plane, as two imperfect yet evolving democracies.

A reader adds:

Bush and the neocons do not understand political culture. They fail to see that liberal Democracy is built on traditions, civil society, and social mores.

Outside of Kurdistan, there is no functioning civil society. It is all religious or tribal. The political tradition is of corrupt monarchy or despotism. Moreover there are 5 distinct ethnic and religious groups. Iraq is more of a geographic location than a nation state. The only thing that can keep it together is fear of violence and hope for prosperity. Iraq essentially lacks internal legitimacy. The problems associated with federalism in Iraq are quite different than those posed here in 1783.

Pointing to our flaws will not explain anything over there. It will only hurt our standing in the world.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 17, 2005 02:00 AM | Send

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