Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Beinart: Still addicted to "The White Man's Burden"

Some words from Arthur Silber are in order:

Beinart was, of course, a major booster of the invasion of Iraq. Let us be precise: Beinart strongly urged the invasion of a country that had not attacked us, and that did not threaten us. This is the advocacy of illegitimate, immoral, and illegal aggressive war. Let us always remember the exact nature of the crime involved.

But now Beinart's heart breaks:

"I can't even imagine Iraq anymore. It exceeds my capacity to visualize horror. In a recent interview with The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid, a woman named Fatima put it this way: 'One-third of us are dying, one-third of us are fleeing, and one-third of us will be widows.' At the Baghdad morgue, they distinguish Shia from Sunnis because the former are beheaded and the latter are killed with power drills. Moqtada Al Sadr has actually grown afraid of his own men. I came of age believing the United States had a mission to stop such evil. And now, not only isn't the United States stopping it – in some important sense, we are its cause."

No, Beinart: not "in some important sense." The United States government and its military are the cause – in every "important sense." And the U.S. government was aided and abetted by Beinart and his fellow warmongers. But the collective "we" is critical to Beinart's purposes, since he is determined to avoid accountability at every turn. That "we" carries profound meaning. As Hannah Arendt observes: "[W]here all are guilty, no one is." The "we" washes Beinart clean of sin, or so he hopes.

Beinart is undoubtedly one of those worthy of Ward Churchill's label, "Little Eichmann." Although a pundit such as TNR's Beinart doesn't make bureaucratic decisions affecting the lives and deaths of countless human beings, he certainly has been among those providing intellectual cover (along with Friedman, Krauthammer, et al.) for those who do. It goes without saying that there is absolutely no way in Hell that any of these pillars of Beltway society will drag me into their "we". The apologists for the very war crimes that our nation has committed are themselves guilty of those crimes, and it is imperative that they are held responsible for the catastrophe for which they advocated so vociferously back in 2002 & 2003.

Silber goes on:

Beinart appears to have become confused about where and when his hero FDR employed the various tactics that Beinart so admires. Beinart is still wedded to his "carrot" that will enable the miracle: "a temporary troop increase and a dramatically larger, World Bank-overseen development effort." If you should think he doesn't mean this, Beinart spells out these details should the Iraqis bow to our demands:

"If the Iraqis really strike a constitutional deal that the prominent leaders in all three major communities publicly support, the United States must try to make it stick. That would mean temporarily sending more troops to secure key Baghdad neighborhoods and then flooding those neighborhoods with public-works programs that put young Sunni and Shia men to work."

Now, I could be wrong about this, and I'm sure someone will tell me if I am. But I don't think FDR used TVA-like projects in Germany and Japan while World War II was still raging across the world. No, I'm certain he didn't. If Beinart's views weren't so repugnant and literally insane, I might give him a point or two for creativity. A New Deal for Iraq! Well, I suppose "creative" is one word for it.

Beinart and all hawks of similar inclination refuse to give up the idea that "we meant well," just as he refuses to surrender the myth that American willpower can still make this work, even at this late date. As I've discussed in detail, one of Beinart's fundamental problems is not that "[he] can't even imagine Iraq anymore." His problem is that the reality of Iraq never was clear to him. Iraq, its own history, peoples, cultures, and aspirations never assumed solid shape before his eyes, so Beinart, just like those driving the Bush administration's foreign policy, deluded himself that we could shape Iraq in our own image. The presumptuousness, arrogance, and colonialist condescension of this view cannot be allowed into Beinart's consciousness.

Kipling's spirit lives on in the likes of Beinart - of that there is little doubt. The presumption that the so-called Western nations can "civlize the great unwashed masses" elsewhere has typically been followed by almost unspeakable savagery by those very nations carrying the the mantle of "civilization." For Beinart and those of like mind, the Iraqi people must merely be fauna - the Iraqis' culture, their civilization, their aspirations don't even seem to enter the minds of our new colonialists as they fantasize about the "New American Century." More troops? More carnage. Put the World Bank in charge of some US-induced public works program? You've got the fox raiding the henhouse. Like the colonizers before our government, there is but one objective in mind: raiding resources - in this case black gold. Forget the drivel about humanitarian missions or noble intentions - that's just the sales pitch - the very same one that Beinart or others like him will use to sell the public on the next war. It's a pitch that should be ignored, as Silber rightly notes.

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