America, the kiss of death

Does anyone remember, in the wake of our seemingly glowing victory in Iraq way back in 2003, teh president’s sweeping rhetoric about liberty, about how we were going to bring freedom to millions by paving the way to democratic elections? How we were going to reshape the Middle East by making Iraq a beacon of democracy, and as neighbors watched democracy work its magic they too would succumb to its charm? The underlying message was clear: the newly liberated masses would elect moderates who would ensure an end to tyranny and terror, the region would stabilize and the Middle East would blossom. Instead of being our blood enemy, it would be America’s friend. Unfortunately, this forecast wasn’t totally accurate.

“It’s the kiss of death,” said Turki al-Rasheed, a Saudi reformer who watched last Sunday’s elections closely. “The minute you are counted on or backed by the Americans, kiss it goodbye, you will never win.”

The paradox of American policy in the Middle East – promoting democracy on the assumption it will bring countries closer to the West – is that almost everywhere there are free elections, the American-backed side tends to lose.

Lebanon’s voters in the Metn district, in other words, appeared to have joined the Palestinians, who voted for Hamas; the Iraqis, who voted for a government sympathetic to Iran; and the Egyptians, who have voted in growing numbers in recent elections for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. “No politician can afford to identify with the West because poll after poll shows people don’t believe in the U.S. agenda,” said Mustafa Hamarneh, until recently the director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. Mr. Hamarneh is running for a seat in Jordan’s Parliament in November, but he says he has made a point of keeping his campaign focused locally, and on bread-and-butter issues. “If somebody goes after you as pro-American he can hurt you,” he said.

Oh, well. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I know some of our friends on the right will say, “But these people always hated America.” True, but they never hated us like this. Not the masses.

Iraq. The most catastrophic clusterfuck in America’s history. But not to worry. I hear the surge will turn it all around.

The Discussion: 22 Comments

Backed by the US or backed by George W. Bush and Darth Cheney?

August 11, 2007 @ 2:46 am | Comment

It is backed by the US, because regardless which adminstration, we are known to backstab our own helpers. Thus our human intelligence is very low down the ground. We can intercept all the messages that we want through high tech means. It will be hard when the messages is pass alone by a person.

It is interesting that this morning’s CNN frontpage has the following stories:

August 11, 2007 @ 3:22 am | Comment

There is really no reason for this American bashing.
After all American government’s human rights
record makes it shines like an angel in comparision to China’s.
I bet none of you heard the implicit China spy policy yet

for further reference check Karing Leung,

A FORMER FBI worker who is discovered to

be working for the Chinese leaders. And she

successfully got away too without being deported.
Even if she had being deported, she would still be earning a comfortable salary in China.
Thus, my critizism of the American policy, too
lenient on spies.

And as for the current Iraq war, it is really a

waste of money because there are many

countries involved. Even Chinese leaders are

actually funding and supporting these terroist

groups though Chinese leaders would never

admit it. Chinese leaders are currently using

their minority conflicts as a reason that

they have no relations with the terroist


Can you believe the idiocy of the people who

actually believed that is a legitimate reason?

August 11, 2007 @ 4:24 am | Comment

hey Mr. anonymous, how about let’s not hijack this thread to china and stick to the original point.

richard, two thumbs up for the post. I was just thinking about the same thing like a minute ago. what do you see as a possible solution that can turn the sentiment around?

a few question that i can’t resolve personally: why are there terrorists against the US to begin with? beyond the war, have we actually tried to understand the circumstances surronding the terrorists and their mentality?

IMHO, the key to stop terrorism is to determine how it started. Beat up someone and tell that person to shove it up doesn’t seem to bring a lot of success or support so far.

well, of course, we americans are never wrong and we can always sit on the patio and wait for the turn-around

August 11, 2007 @ 8:18 am | Comment

Will there ever come a day when we can once again discuss China-related affairs on this blog? Please? Pretty please?

August 11, 2007 @ 11:53 am | Comment

That’s the scary thing about democracy. It can really bite you in the ass. To drag China into it, I (and most westerners here, I guess) hope that China introduces more democracy. But we shouldn’t imagine that introducing more democracy will lead to policies that we like.
As, indeed, in the US and UK. Our supposedly brilliant democratic systems managed to drag us into a stupid war. Fortunately, no-one is stupid enough to suggest that we should can democracy in those two countries because of those bad decisions.

August 11, 2007 @ 3:57 pm | Comment

a few question that i can’t resolve personally: why are there terrorists against the US to begin with? beyond the war, have we actually tried to understand the circumstances surronding the terrorists and their mentality?

As far as Al-Qaeda is concerned, I blame bad parenting. With 54 siblings and daddy Mohammed bin Laden too busy out of town sucking up to the House of Bush for construction contracts, this was the only way little Osama could get attention.

August 11, 2007 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

What a mess!

August 11, 2007 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

Around 1550 there was a famous dispute in Spain (which was the western world’s superpower at that time) between a bishop named Bartolome de Las Casas (a champion of indigenous rights) and a guy named Juan Gines de Sepulveda. This dispute was of immense historical importance because it was one of the only times in history when the powers that be paused to consider their actions and the consequences thereof. Sepulveda held that force could be justly used to overcome the many difficulties in converting people to the Spanish way of thinking and governing. Las Casas held that force must be opposed as much as possible because it subverted free will. Thus, the problem was how could the most powerful nation in the world go about making over the whole world in its own image? There was no question about “if” but only about “how”. To their way of thinking the world would only be a good place when it was made over like the Spanish decreed. The debate was whether military or peaceful means were the best way of achieving a uniform international community based upon the Spanish model. Sound familiar? The Sepulveda crowd said that the native peoples were ungrateful, shameless barbarians, who did not recognize the greatness of the Spanish teachings. They only understood war and so the Spanish should give them war. The Las Casas crowd said that the native peoples were rebelling BECAUSE the Spanish were repressing them. “Let us show them peace, and give them justice, food, and health, and then they will embrace out teachings”. Only a few people were willing to say “Let them have their own damn teachings and the hell with it” . This kind of thinking was considered dangerous and heretical. The problem was really a question of wether a perceived duty on the part of the super power gave it the right and divine authority to impose its will as it saw fit without consideration for the needs and rights of the rest of the world. The results of this debate were never conclusive. The battle has raged on for almost half a millennia. When will we ever learn?

August 12, 2007 @ 8:58 am | Comment

Thanks for that, Bob. If we don’t learn a big lesson from Iraq, then there’s no hope. Which is why it’s so disturbing to see the neo-cons trying to play the same game with Iran, puffing up its WMD capabilities and fanning the flames for war. For these ideologues there really is no hope. Let’s just hope they become marginalized and never again sit in a position of power and leadership in the US.

August 12, 2007 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

“Oh, well. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

To who? I was among the 30% that wasn’t retarded enough to be fooled by this “freedom and democracy” jargon.

Like it or not America, you voted that asshole in the second time.

Maybe if America wants to market democracy, ours should stop sucking ass and balls first.

August 12, 2007 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

“For these ideologues there really is no hope….”

Neither is there hope for, or from, their spineless aiders and abettors such as Nancy Pelosi and Barak Obama.

August 12, 2007 @ 6:43 pm | Comment


Would you agree that the Spanish neo-con side was also influenced by the teachings and actions of the Vatican? The Vatican saw fit to use force to teach christian values and convert Europeans, as well as maintain discipline in the ranks, so the Spanish neo-cons (with the full support of the Vatican) simply applied existing practices in Europe to the rest of the world.

August 13, 2007 @ 7:37 am | Comment

@Phil “Our supposedly brilliant democratic systems managed to drag us into a stupid war.”

Actually, ignoring our brilliant democratic system is what dragged us into this war. Whatever happened to that pesky clause in the constitution that says only the Congress has the power to declare war? Democrats and Republicans alike can share the blame for ignoring it.

@Bob The Spain analogy is strained. “Las Espanas” had largely been conquered. What was at issue was how they would be governed. Of course, returning to the days of ripping hearts out and ritual cannibalism would have been to the greater benefit of indigenous Americans. As a footnote, Don Bartolome also proposed lightening the heavy hand upon the Indians by importing slaves from Africa.

Nanhey: Of course the teachings of the Vatican influenced the actions of European states. But, regarding the Inquisition, note how their actions in Spain (and New Spain) reinforced the Spanish state’s campaign of solidifying a truly national identity. The goals of both parties should be kept in mind when judging such institutions.

August 13, 2007 @ 10:35 am | Comment

“Would you agree that the Spanish neo-con side was also influenced by the teachings and actions of the Vatican?”

yep. just like arbusto and dickless using fundamentalist protestantism (like a whore) for their own agenda.

this is why hearing “religious oppression” (what a bunch of whiners, honestly) of christians in china brings me such great joy.

August 13, 2007 @ 12:14 pm | Comment


“But, regarding the Inquisition, note how their actions in Spain (and New Spain) reinforced the Spanish state’s campaign of solidifying a truly national identity.”

Are you talking about purging any remaining Moorish identity within Spain?

August 13, 2007 @ 12:14 pm | Comment

Nanhey, Not only the Moors, but the Jews and other non-Castillian nationalities. Unified Spain to the Crown meant an absolutist vision of Castillian Spain. The inquisition was but one tool in their inventory. As for the vatican, Spain was already a major political power in Italy, something that any non-Spanish pope had to keep in mind.

August 13, 2007 @ 4:52 pm | Comment

US people are admired in much of the Middle East. The current Presidency is not and has made it worse.

As has the closing of American Libraries in the Middle East and making our embassies into fortresses.

Um, who to blame for the mess in the Middle East. Ottoman Empire? French and English after WWI? US for our wonderful deal with the House of Saud?

Article I like:
Mideast rules to live by – Thomas Friedman

His rule #13 is relevant:
Rule 13: America’s first priority is democracy, but the Arabs’ first priority is ‘justice.’ The warring Arab tribes are all wounded souls, who really have been hurt by colonial powers, by Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, by Arab kings and dictators, and, most of all, by each other. For Iraq’s long-abused Shiite majority, democracy is first and foremost a vehicle to get justice. Ditto the Kurds. For the minority Sunnis, democracy in Iraq is a vehicle of injustice. For Americans, democracy is about protecting minority rights. For Arabs, democracy is about consolidating majority rights and getting justice.

August 14, 2007 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

“For Americans, democracy is about protecting minority rights.”

That’s a good one, lol.

August 15, 2007 @ 12:17 am | Comment

ferins. Irony noted, and not entirely unjustified. However read “political minority” in lieu of “ethnic minority” and you’ll understand what the constitutional framers had in mind.

August 15, 2007 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

The U.S. has been enforcing it’s will on other countries by justifying military invasion. Come to think about it, the U.S. Invasion of Iraq can be likened to these:

Japanese invasion of Asia
German Invasion of Europe

August 15, 2007 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

“ethnic minority”

what about women, jews, catholics, homosexuals, irish, italians, and people who aren’t stupid?

August 16, 2007 @ 6:10 am | Comment

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