He has, after all, experienced the horror of war first-hand. But he’s no longer in the military. In fact, Bob Kerrey is no longer a Democratic senator. He is now president of The New School, a New York University that, according to its website blurb:
“……prepare[s] and inspire[s] its 9,300 undergraduate and graduate students to bring actual, positive change to the world……..”
Only last week there was a Bill Moyer’s Journal on PBS about Pat Robertson’s Regent University, during which Robertson exhorted his students to “go forth and change the world.” My first reaction on reading Kerrey’s New School website was, “Here we go again.”
Why has America become so obsessed with changing the world? Do Americans truly believe they and their country are so utterly perfect that there is no further room for improvement, forcing them to take their immense talents outside its borders and transform all those other poor nations they believe are desperate to be just like the USA?
I suppose there are many who do.
One of them appears to be Bob Kerrey
In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kerrey argues that it is perfectly acceptable to impose democracy by military force. He sites Japan, Germany, and Bosnia as examples of democracies imposed by American military might. He needs to swot up on his history.
Germany was a democracy until 1933, when Hitler – having been voted into office by a slim majority – undertook to convert the country to a dictatorship and declare war on his neighbors. In 1945 half that nation reverted to a western-style democracy, the other half became a communist state under the USSR. NATO was responsible for the emerging West German democracy, not America alone. In fact, it is extremely unlikely America would have had much part in it at all if Japan, a German ally, had not committed their act of aggression against the US at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As for Bosnia, that too was a combined NATO operation, though botched almost as completely as has been the debacle in Iraq.
The three examples quoted by Kerrey bear little similarity to a nation that endured an unprovoked invasion, destruction of its infrastructure, and occupation by a military force that had no mandate to be there, unlike the NATO-led peace-keeping force in Bosnia.
Kerrey goes on to state that Iraq was “rightly” seen as a threat after 9/11. He gloriously fails to make a case why that was so. Iraq was seen as a threat because of the supposed WMD’s, which failed to materialize, based on false intelligence the British and American governments chose to conveniently ignore – or rather, promote as genuine. Kerrey then chooses to dismiss the original invasion as no longer relevant “…..however much we may wish to turn the clock back……”, launching into a series of improbable “supposes” to support the original invasion and American troops remaining there.
Finally, Kerrey reaches the crux of his thesis: that Iraq is now a haven for al Qaeda, and withdrawal of American troops would hand bin Laden a “psychological victory”. That old chestnut of American Honor rears its sad and degraded head yet again.
Haven’t Kerrey, and others of similar opinion, yet realized that America has no honor left? It isn’t honor that prevents a troop withdrawal, it’s nationalist pride. How many Americans know the difference, or care?
In line with almost all the planners and so-called strategists involved in the Iraq war, Kerrey vigorously displays his ignorance of Arab culture by suggesting all that stands between democracy and Iraq becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda, is the American military.
Al Qaeda is an entirely Sunni organization. Any Shiites attempting to join would have their throats slit. Presently, in Iraq, their are four major factions fighting for control: Shiites, who number around 60% of the population and are backed by the Shia nations, Iran and Syria; Sunnis, who held power under Saddam Hussein and comprise around 35% of the population. They are backed – though not militarily as yet – by Saudi Arabia (90% Sunni Muslim); al Qaeda, who have infiltrated the country ostensibly in support of their Sunni brothers. Their actual numbers are unknown but even the US government puts the figure at under 2,000, and the Iraq Study Group estimated only 1,300, according to Ted Carpenter writing for the Cato Institute last January.
The fourth faction is, of course, the American military, backed by the Maliki government as their only means of holding onto power. The Americans are hated by the Sunnis, intensely disliked by most Shiites, and are the sworn enemies of al Qaeda. They are backed by the American president, a dwindling band of his loyal supporters, and rich corporate investors – particularly in the oil industry – who are making a killing from the elevated oil price, and stand to gain even more if only the country can be sufficiently suppressed. Some factions of the British government are still supportive for, no doubt, similar motives.
It’s surely easy to deduce from these facts that the main cause of unrest in Iraq is the presence of an occupying American force. If they were to leave, the Maliki government would probably tumble and there would be a period of unrest, possibly even civil war, until either democracy reigned or a new dictator arose from the ashes. Neither result would suit America. Even the emergence of an Iraqi-inspired democracy would undoubtedly be very anti-American; not suited to US-favored bargaining over oil.
While the effect of US troop withdrawal would be very uncertain, the only fact we can be sure of is that the emerging new leaders would not be al Qaeda. If US troops pulled out, al Qaeda in Iraq would fade away into the night, at least if they valued their skins.
Osama bin Laden might well proclaim a “psychological victory”, but with the exception of a few hundred or so Islamic nutters, who would be listening?
However, Bob Kerrey has no cause to be concerned. His argument that al Qaeda would take over Iraq without the presence of US troops is fatally flawed, but American soldiers will be going nowhere for the foreseeable future. The invasion of Iraq was never about al Qaeda. It was far more important to certain Americans than chasing a few thousand quaintly dressed peasants out of Tora Bora. That’s why Afghanistan was always the “secondary” war.
Control of Iraq is pivotal to US strategy in the Middle East. It’s a factor most Americans seem unable to grasp, though it’s as plain as George Bush’s nose to anyone able to accept that not everything done in American politics is above board and morally irreprehensible.
To begin to grasp the concept, Bob Kerrey and others still in doubt, should ask themselves two questions:
1) Why spend $600,000,000 to build a 104 acre “embassy” in Iraq?
2) What (or who) was responsible for the Democratic opposition to the recent War Funding Bill crumbling to dust overnight?
Forget about teaching your students to change the world, Bob Kerrey. Instead, begin to educate them about the truth of what is happening at home, right under their noses.
Filed under: Pulling wool