Wednesday, May 12

LOSING OUR HEADS OVER IRAQ

The beheading of the hapless American contractor, Nick Berg, by masked Al-Qaeda operatives--purported retaliation for American Human Rights abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison--ratchets up the imagery of violence and the racist undertones of the entire "domesticating" process.

It is now public knowledge that the American abuses reported on for the past year went ignored. That's all part of a larger system of approaching the Arabs as subhumans, and unworthy of respect.

Hang on, say the Judeo-Christian white guys. Look at the beheading video online. Doesn't that prove that Arabs are antagonistic animals that need to be put down?

Of course. This is exactly the kind of anti-antipodal, polarized, environment that Osama Bin Laden wished for when he launched his P.R. stunt suicide attacks on 9/11.

The problem stems from the ideologues on both sides. For one, Osama is ideological. That is, he sees the world through the prism of a belief system and a set of political and religious doctrines. A rigid, ordered value system and certain assumptions about how the world works.

Similarly, Bush and his war cabinet--or, as author James Mann terms them: "vulcans" (his book is called The Rise of The Vulcans)--are equally ideological and rigid.

Moreover, a racist attitude about Arabs, and a triumphalist attitude about "ordering" the Middle East, lay behind many of the writings of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, and Wolfowitz.

The term they use, very coded, is "democracy".

Well, democracy itself is really a form of political process, with something called constitutional liberalism as the goal. That isn't always democratic. One such example is the executive branch of the U.S. government forcing through civil rights against the "democratic" wishes of Southern states.

A different example is transpiring in Iraq. A place where a democratic process, by itself, will be used to institute a tribal despot or a religious theocracy to negate itself.

What do we mean by "democratizing" the Middle East? If you ask the so-called Arab Street, they will tell you.

To them, this is an updated version of the "White Man's Burden" mindset of the 19th Century a/k/a "The Age Of Empires".

A time when the black beasts of Africa needed to be shown a thing or two. Native North Americans were "moved" onto "reserves". Just butchered, really.

They were savages though. They must have been asking for it.

Now here they are in Iraq. What to make of it? What to do? Never mind that there is little democracy in Russia under Putin. Nor is there a history of Western liberal democracy in very many places. Nor is there democracy with many Western allies.

The one democracy in the region, Israel, is a P.R. disaster. Many Arabs seeing the ghettoized Palestinians relative to the undemocratic impostion of the Israeli state--a Western military puppet with a militarily integrated economy with America--as yet another "invasion".

There's nothing "democratic"--let alone logical--about the prosecution of the war in Iraq. Homes have been systematically attacked by American soldiers rounding up mainly innocent Iraqi males and sending them off, stripped of clothing, for abuse.

Since day one, America has launched a bullying intimidation campaign against the Iraqi population, and has made more insurgents as a result; where Iraq has become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy of dehumanization.

The beheading of the American contractor is done to shock, intimidate and awe. Where have we heard this before?

Osama smiles. Arabs are uniting.

And in the Oval Office Bush exhales, with a determined cast to his face, the muscles in his forehead pulled to a frown.

For them, God is great. God is good. God is with them.

God wasn't a democrat either.