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Monday, October 16, 2006

norman geras puts his fingers in his ears and goes na na na na na

Back in the heady days after the purple revolution, when every belligeranti worth his salt had dyed his own forefinger purple in solidarity, there was an article in the Sunday Times of London (2/6/05) entitled “Stormin' Marxist is toast of the neocons”.

It began like this:

“AN OBSCURE Marxist professor who has spent his entire academic life in Manchester has become the darling of the Washington right wing for his outspoken support of the war in Iraq.

Despite his leanings Norman Geras, who writes a blog diary on the internet, has praised President George WBush and says the invasion of Iraq was necessary to oust the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein.

His daily jottings have brought him the nickname of "Stormin' Norm" from the title of his diary, Normblog. The Wall Street Journal has reprinted one of his articles in its online edition and American pundits often cite his words.

Most mornings Geras, 61, the author of such obscure books as Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind: The Ungroundable Liberalism of Richard Rorty, sits in the upstairs study of his Edwardian semi in Manchester to type his latest entry.

Last week he gave thanks to Bush, quoting an Iraqi who wants to build a statue to the American president as "the symbol of freedom".

He also lambasted "all those conflicted folk who would like to remain true to their values and be pleased about the Iraqi election, but don't want George Bush to be able to take any credit for it". He picked Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent newspaper, for special mention.”

Ah, credit. The other side of credit is, I believe, blame. Times have gotten tough for the pro-war side, due to the terrorist coddling media reporting only the bad news from Iraq. The statue of Bush has, sadly, been put on hold. And what a symbol it would have been! Something for all Iraqis to see. Their liberator, their hero, the man who has cared enough for them that he even extended the blessing of the flat tax to them – making a thousand flowers bloom. Poems about the Rebel in Chief, on the model of Pushkin’s the Bronze Horseman, could be written. He’s like Lawrence of Arabia, but more butch.

Geras is quoted in the Stormin’ Norm article saying:

"Everybody and his brother has had a go at me. But I started the blog because I was fed up with the prevailing left and liberal consensus that the war in Iraq was wrong.

"If those people who marched against the war had been successful they would have prolonged a brutal regime responsible for 300,000 deaths. They could have chosen not to support the war, but they chose to oppose it.”

The rather mystifying suggestion that we in the West live in such authoritarian regimes that our choice is to either support the war or exist in interior exile, pretty much allowing the powers that be to exercise their will without restraint or opposition, has now become Geras’ own position. This weekend he withdrew his support for the war – and presumably is no longer going to contribute to that statue of George Bush:

“Still, there have been too many deaths; there has been too much other suffering. It has lately become clear to me - and this predates publication of the second Lancet report - that, whatever should now happen in Iraq, the war that I've supported has failed according to one benchmark of which I'm in a position to be completely certain.

That is, had I been able to foresee, in January and February 2003, that the war would have the results it has actually had in the numbers of Iraqis killed and the numbers now daily dying, with the country (more than three years down the line) on the very threshold of civil war if not already across that threshold, I would not have felt able to support the war and I would not have supported it. Measured, in other words, against the hopes of what it might lead to and the likelihoods as I assessed them, the war has failed. Had I foreseen a failure of this magnitude, I would have withheld my support. Even then, I would not have been able to bring myself to oppose the war. As I have said two or three times before, nothing on earth could have induced me to march or otherwise campaign for a course of action that would have saved the Baathist regime. But I would have stood aside.”

The interior exile position is a little strange. What I guess this means is that, three years ago, he would have stuck his fingers in his ears and sung na na na na na instead of supporting or opposing the invasion. And he would have kept his fingers in his ears for the duration.

Who knows? LI thinks that might well have been the right course for Geras, but for those who opposed the invasion and opposed Saddam the Meatman, it just won’t do. In actuality, American interest and a certain justice would have been better served by dropping, after 9/11, the double cordon sanitaire around Iraq and Iran. American interest, served by waging a war in Afghanistan that did not have a forty year goal, but a two year one (breaking with the liberal "nationbuilding" idea, that imperialism of good intentions - this time, we aren't here to plunder but to help you become just like Californians!) plus a thaw on relations with Iran, would have provided a framework in which America could actually lower its profile in the Middle East to accord with its real influence in the Middle East. American hegemony was bound to take a hit after the end of the Cold War. The question about Saddam wasn’t if he was going to fall, but when, as the belligeranti in their cups sometimes like to point out – Hitchens being a great one for the idea that, save the invasion, the failed state would have spiraled into something horrible. Like, uh, I don’t know, a state in which it is an everyday occurrence for militia from the Ministry of the Interior to use drills in torturing and killing ordinary Iraqis. Something like that.

The belligeranti served one purpose only in 2002 – to throw up a smokescreen. We aren’t going to revisit the numerous posts we made at the time, pointing out that their arguments were for a war that wasn’t ever going to be waged. Geras’ na na na na na option is clueless, but at least it is a start. However, those who oppose the war and oppose the occupation should certainly not be mislead into following that option. The current D.C. fantasy of splitting Iraq into tasty bits so that we can bed down with our buddy Shiites in the South and those great Kurds in the north is not only not going to work, but will, very obviously, lead to the worst case scenario of continuing, high levels of conflict in Iraq driven by American interest. Although splitting up Iraq has been the favored rightwing Israeli fantasy since the war began, the SCIRI state it has now become U.S. policy to kill Iraqis for will work out even worse for our proud little buddy in the Middle East – a Shiite, hezbollah lovin’ state in South Iraq is not going to be the Chalabi-land of Richard Perle’s erotic dreams. Israel truly is on the verge – if it continues to follow every Perle-ish dream for regional domination, it is signing its own death warrant.

Now – back to building that statue of the Liberator. Let’s paint it a blood red, shall we?


Matt said...

As usual Roger...you say it well.

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

The statue remains an option, I think, even at this late date.

roger said...

Thanks Matt! And surely, Mr. Scruggs, our Rebel in Chief, who signed his great torture r us bill today, has a much stiffer and larger member. Ask - well, ask Fred Barnes.

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