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The Mideastization of the US

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    The Mideastization of the US, or: Rumsfeld Must Resign by Juan Cole The Bush administration keeps talking about bringing democracy to the Middle East, but a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2004
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      The Mideastization of the US, or: Rumsfeld Must Resign
      by Juan Cole

      The Bush administration keeps talking about bringing democracy to the
      Middle East, but a key element in democracy is always the
      accountability of public officials to the public. That is why we have
      elections, that is why we have a division of powers, that is why
      Congress can impeach the executive and the Supreme Court could order
      Nixon to hand over his tape recordings. When high officials commit
      improprieties, they must resign. When they run a loose ship and it
      founders on the shoals of scandal, they must resign. Secretary of
      Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
      Wolfowitz must resign. It is the only way the United States can
      recover even a shred of credibility in the wider world, at a time
      when this country desperately needs the esteem and the cooperation of
      allies and friends.

      The Bush administration has from its inception stood against
      accountability. When Ambassador Joe Wilson blew the whistle on the
      phony Niger yellowcake story that Bush put in his state of the union
      address to stampede us all into war, someone high in the Bush
      administration took petty revenge by revealing that Wilson's wife,
      Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative. Plame's specialty was
      attempting to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. When
      the Bush administration revealed her name to the public, it
      compromised all her contacts in all the countries she had ever
      worked, and set back the fight against proliferation. This action was
      high treason. Bush could demand that the individual responsible come
      forward. He has not done so.

      When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, no Bush
      administration official was asked to resign. The main purveyor of
      false intelligence on Iraqi WMD was Vice President Dick Cheney. He
      has not been asked to step down, even though he was largely
      responsible for taking the country to war based on a falsehood.
      Scooter Libby, David Wurmser and John Hannah were up to their necks
      in hyping bad intelligence on Iraqi WMD. None of them was asked to
      step down. They were supplied the bad intelligence by Undersecretary
      of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith and his rogue Office of Special
      Plans. No one associated with this scam has been asked to resign.

      It is clear where the buck stops with regard to torture by the US
      military. It stops with the Secretary of Defense (and with the
      President, but he in any case is facing accountability in November).
      Moreover, Rumsfeld is not an innocent bystander in all this. His
      policies have consistently aimed at creating spaces for prisoners to
      be outside any judicial jurisdiction, so that anything can be done to
      them with impunity. I remember seeing a news conference where a
      British journalist complained about the US practice of hooding
      prisoners as a form of torture. Rumsfeld absolutely ridiculed
      her. "Hooding?" He asked sarcastically. The torture of POWs at Abu
      Ghuraib was not carried out by a handful of rogue MPs. It was the
      result of ordinary practices of US military intelligence, practices
      that just haven't usually been photographed. Rumsfeld set the tone in
      which military intelligence felt justified in behaving this way.

      Democracy is about more than elections. Most Middle Eastern countries
      already have elections. Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, all of them
      hold regular elections. They have parliaments, parties, campaigns.
      Two things make them nevertheless not democracies. The first is that
      their presidents manipulate the elections so that there is never any
      doubt that they will win the election and that their party will
      dominate parliament (even if space is made for minority parties to
      win a few seats). Second, their regimes have no accountability to the
      public. No one in Hosni Mubarak's government has ever had to resign
      because he performed his duties poorly. He might have to resign
      because he fell out with the president. But if he is buddy buddy with
      the head of state, then he can do no wrong.

      You really wonder whether the Bush plan to Americanize the Middle
      East isn't being turned on its head. We now have an unaccountable
      government not elected in accordance with the will of the majority of
      Americans, which victimizes critics like Joe Wilson and engages in
      torture. Bush and Co. are emulating the worst aspects of the military
      governments of Egypt and Yemen. They have no credibility to push the
      latter toward democracy.

      Bush says he is annoyed with Rumsfeld for not informing him about
      those photographs of tortured Iraqi prisoners. I personally find it
      difficult to believe that Rumsfeld did not brief him on them at a
      time when Gen. Richard Myers was discussing the timing of their
      release with Dan Rathers! But if this is true, it demonstrates that
      Bush is not really president. He has allowed Cheney, Rumsfeld and
      others to usurp his presidency, hide key information from him,
      manipulate him, and tell him what to do. Bush says he
      won't fire Rumsfeld. That gives the Democrats one more thing to run
      on.

      By the way, the US press is reporting that Bush apologized for the
      torture of Iraqi prisoners at his news conference Thursday with King
      Abdullah II of Jordan. The moderate Saudi daily published in London,
      al-Hayat, however, points out that all Bush said was that he was
      sorry the incidents had happened. That isn't really apologizing for
      them, the newspaper insisted. Asharq al-Awsat did a story in which it
      argued that while some Iraqis appear to be somewhat mollified by
      Bush's statements, most in the Arab world are not. Not all Iraqis
      are, either. It quotes one man who complains that of 50 Iraqi
      parties, not one has mounted a demonstration against the US over the
      photos, because they are all in America's back pocket. (This
      allegation is not entirely true. The Board of Muslim Clerics, a
      fundamentalist Sunni group, did hold a demonstration at Abu Ghuraib
      on Tuesday).

      http://www.juancole.com/

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