LI has pondered the parodoxes of the upcoming election in Iraq. In the past, the U.S. has used fake elections to try to legitimize its foreign policy adventures. South Vietnam, El Salvador, Panama – the m.o. has a dreary consistency.
This case is different insofar as the Iraq occupation is different. While the election is being held in an atmosphere that renders it illegitimate as a democratic process – the massive censorship, the arrest of opposition leaders, the way American military strategy has normalized war crimes, etc., etc. – this matters less than the fact that the elections are the first step in relieving Iraq of its biggest problem: the Americans. On Ghazi Yawer’s latest trip to this country, he made that explicit – as he foresaw it, the elected government would ask for a timetable of withdrawal. Yawer was talking about a year. We’d like to see six months. In American eyes, the elected government’s biggest task is to write a constitution. Americans love constitutions. But the impetus gained from having a power, however weak, that had actually communicated with the Iraqi people opens up the possibility of doing many things: getting American hands off Iraqi oil money; negotiating, themselves, for the end of reparations to Kuwait; the introduction of Iraqi concerns into the internal governance of the country; destroying the last remnants of Bremer’s economic legacy to Iraq (all of that privatizing nonsense). The outcome for the Americans, over the next three or four years, isn’t going to be upbeat. We doubt the U.S. has a new, reliable ally in the region. But the U.S. has too much at stake to exaccerbate the natural hostility any Iraqi government would feel towards its recent oppressors.
While LI has viewed Allawi, throughout, as a thug, his latest suggestion about the election is a surprisingly good one: in Sunni areas, the election time must be extended. In fact, in all areas.
The withdrawal of American troops does have a definite downside. As long as they are tied down in Iraq, the Bush gang doesn’t really have the resources to bedevil the rest of the world. However, with combat ready troops available, we know that America, a perennially belligerant country being lead by a man whose popularity crucially hinges on making the American masses identify with his brand of acts of irrational violence, will be on the lookout for another deployment. This is partly why we are ambiguous about the Bush project of privatizing social security. On the one hand, it is class warfare that will, as always, continue the impoverishment of the average American as money is directed to the investment class – Bush’s version of Pinochet-ism. From the standpoint of the American citizen, it should be resisted at all costs. But the standpoint of the American citizen is no longer the standpoint of the cosmopolitan liberal. The gap between America and the rest of the world has widened to the point that what benefits the American economy feeds into the American imperial psychosis. The borrowing required to rob social security will almost surely sink the U.S. into a pretty deep recession. This is especially true insofar as the Chinese, eyeing the U.S.’s military, will be less than enthusiastic in financing another round of the Bush Saturnalia for the wealthy. The lack of money to maintain an aggressive foreign policy might well blunt the Bush gangs’ natural homicidal instincts. But there’s a large caveat hereL it is important to remember that the society Bush’s America most resembles – Peronist Argentina – was susceptible to war hysteria even in the grey tumult of recession.