Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.17 Could carbon-capture technology be a silver bullet to stop climate change?

10.17 So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

10.16 Can We Go Electric Before It’s Too Late?

10.16 'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]

10.16 Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

10.16 Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

10.16 Australia should be 'exporting sunshine, not coal', economist Jeffrey Sachs tells Q&A

10.15 'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact [1:10 video; comfortable in his willful ignorance and denial, catastropic effects will be sooner and greater for doing nothing]

News Media Matters

10.16 The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire [Distorting news and issues "analysis" almost completely where cable and Internet are least available]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.18 Are You Kidding Me?' Outrage as Democrats Push 'Incremental Steps' Over Bold Agenda Needed to Save Planet from Climate Catastrophe [Neoliberals still control Democratic Party leadership...]

10.18 Republicans are ramming through more judges — by holding hearings when everyone is out of town

10.18 Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs. That’s not true.

10.18 Republicans were supposed to run on their tax cuts. Instead, they’re running away from them.

10.18 The new Republican midterm strategy is to copy Democratic ideas

10.18 Beto O’Rourke shows Democrats how to talk about climate change

10.18 The Democrats’ Incredible Shrinking Message

10.18 'Lives Hang in the Balance': 21 Days Before Midterms, McConnell Admits GOP Still Salivating to Gut Medicare and Social Security

10.17 Republican lawmakers react to the IPCC report – ‘we have scientists’ too!

10.16 The biggest political problem in America, explained in one chart

10.16 GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk [What would Jesus say?]

10.15  3,121 desperate journeys  Exposing a week of chaos under Trump's zero tolerance

10.15 We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump [growing the mafia-state; to the extent allowed all tax evaded results in additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

10.14 Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies

10.14 NEARLY EVERY MEMBER OF THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS STILL TAKES CORPORATE PAC MONEY

10.13 With Campaign Only 'Powered by People,' Beto O'Rourke Shatters All-Time Senate Fundraising Record With $38 Million Haul [nullifying Citizens United—that empowers corporations and the super-rich—with a pledged commitment returns democracy powered by the people!]

Justice Matters

10.18 Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? [Obviously!]

High Crimes?

10.18 Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International [why refugee immigrants rightly see jail in the US as an improvement]

10.18 How We Can End the Saudis’ War in Yemen [There is NO EXCUSE for War Crimes]

10.12 Israel’s Illegal Blockade of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza has doubled Unemployment to 50% [5:51 video]

10.12 Trump Says Murder Shouldn’t Stop Saudi Weapon Sales Because ‘We Have Jobs’ [Morals and laws be damned! Trump grows his mafia-state for patron and personal profit]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick – even the IMF says so

10.11 Climate change will make the next global crash the worst

International & Futurism

10.18 Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

10.18 Khashoggi Is The Tip Of The Bloody Iceberg: 10 More Reasons to Cut the US-Saudi Alliance

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up [the world needs mutually-beneficial moral friendships among nations, not high-risk emotional outbursts]

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up

10.17 Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdogan [What explains Trump's opinion and behavior?]

10.16 Our leaders are destroying our future. Wentworth must be a referendum on climate change

10.16 Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with 'golden passport' schemes published [mafia-states are increasing and growing, threatening financial health of non-mafia states where tax evaded becomes additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  The Missing Democratic Peace: Bush's Latest Explanation for the War in Iraq

COMMENTARY:

The Missing Democratic Peace: Bush’s Latest Explanation for the War in Iraq

by John Hickman
All but the dimmest of knee-jerk patriots will eventually realize that Bush’s dumbed-down explanation doesn’t account for the sectarian civil war developing in Iraq.
A safe venue was selected by the White House for President George W. Bush to deliver the latest version of his explanation for the War in Iraq on April 6: Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. A more prestigious institution of higher education might have been chosen, but Bush suffers from an unusually low tolerance threshold for direct expressions of disagreement, whether from officials in his own administration or anti-war protesters. The soft-ball questions from the audience at the end of the speech confirm that CCPC was a relatively risk-free choice.

What did Bush have to tell the nation about the sacrifices it is making in Iraq? The bulk of the speech consisted of cut-and-paste phrases and sentences from previous speeches about the war. Public memories of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons were evoked as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were fused into a single conflict. There was an admission that intelligence mistakes were made—seemingly by everyone except officials in the second Bush White House—but the decision to invade Iraq was justifiable because Saddam Hussein had committed evil. Japan was held up as an example of successful occupation democratization and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi held up as the model of the pro-American leader, a veritable “anti-Saddam Hussein.” Bush even dragged the "sunk costs" fallacy back from the rhetorical grave by asking “what would it say” to American troops and their families, “if we left before the mission was complete?”

Despite the predictably extensive self-plagiarism, Bush’s speech is different in two ways. First, Bush didn’t offer his usual rambling list of the various sorts of Iraqi insurgents. Indeed he did not even refer to them as insurgents. His list of Iraqi usual suspects—“Saddamists,” “al-Qaeda types,” “rejectionists,” “foreign fighters” etc.—has been replaced by a monolithic opponent designated generically as the “enemy.” Bush referred once to “thugs and assassins” and another time to a “totalitarian group of folks,” surely the silliest combination of the folksy and the threatening ever to come out of the mouth of a U.S. President, but he repeated the word “enemy” 18 times. Question: Who are we fighting in Iraq? Answer: We are fighting the enemy. Any further simplification of the political message would be difficult to imagine.

The second difference in the explanation is that the "Democratic Peace" justification for the war has almost disappeared from the narrative. The word “democracy” still appears 27 times in the text, but there is barely a trace of the argument that a world of democratic states will be a peaceful world. The idea that the example of democracy in Iraq will cause democracy to spread across the Middle East is missing altogether. Instead, Iraqi democracy by itself is treated as something worthy of American sacrifices. That claim would have been more plausible if his administration had not eliminated all four democracy promotion programs in Iraq in the 2007 budget and shifted those monies to security training.

Simplifying Bush's political message any further would require grunts and hand gestures.

The reasons for abandoning the Democratic Peace as a justification for the war are not hard to guess. Iraqi democracy looks more like the dysfunctional prelude to civil war than the solution to any people’s problems and the rest of the Middle East is hardly experiencing a wave of democratization. The only truly consolidated democracy in the region is Israel, which is also its most bellicose state. Democratic elections in Palestine brought Hamas to power. The relationship between democratic Israel and democratic Palestine is hardly an advertisement for the Democratic Peace. From the perspective of the White House, however, the best reason for abandoning the Democratic Peace as justification for the war is too complicated an idea for many of the remaining supporters of the War in Iraq. Theoretical abstraction like that is too much to expect of a population demographic only now coming to terms with the facts that Saddam Hussein didn’t order the September 11, 2001 attacks and didn’t possess any weapons of mass destruction prior to the U.S. invasion. Here again the political message is reduced to its simplest possible elements. Question: Why are we fighting in Iraq? Answer: We are fighting for democracy. Simplifying the message any further would require grunts and hand gestures.

The problem inherent in such a radical simplification of the political message is that while it may slow, it cannot stop the erosion of American public support for the War in Iraq. All but the dimmest of knee-jerk patriots will eventually realize that Bush’s dumbed-down explanation doesn’t account for the sectarian civil war developing in Iraq. In the end even those Americans who can’t bring themselves to question the original decision to invade Iraq are unlikely to accept the pointless death and maiming of more U.S. soldiers without a reasonable chance of establishing a pro-American government capable of defending itself and maintaining order.


John Hickman is associate professor of comparative politics at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. His published work on electoral politics, media, and international affairs has appeared in Asian Perspective, American Politics Research, Comparative State Politics, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Strategy, Current Politics and Economics of Asia, East European Quarterly, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Jouvert, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science, Review of Religious Research, Women & Politics, and Yamanashigakuin Law Review. He may be reached at jhickman@berry.edu.

NOTES: See Peter Baker's story, “Democracy In Iraq Not A Priority In U.S. Budget,” The Washington Post. April 5, 2006.

According to Princeton University’s Joanne Gowa, a "Democratic Peace" held only during the Cold War decades and existed neither before nor after that period. Source: Joanne Gowa. 1999. Ballots and Bullets: The Elusive Democratic Peace, Princeton University Press.


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 10, 2006.

 

Public Service Ads: