Monday, March 29, 2010

Health Care Redux

I'm still pondering what to say about the health care bill that's now law. Plenty of pundits have weighed in, and I'd rather not repeat what they've said. That said, I can't help but note 1) no one cared when Congressman Stupak received threats when he was voting against the bill, 2) if this is such a great idea, why does the majority of the American people oppose it, 3) how on Earth can spending a trillion dollars decrease the deficit? (Unless, of course, we're massively increasing taxes...?)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Democracy in Iraq

This month, Iraqis went to the polls, again. Key word, again. There's an old saying about authoritarian regimes, "One man, one vote, one time." Iraqis have now voted in as many elections as many adult Americans. (Given the 62% voter turnout in this latest election, they've voted in more elections than many Americans. Or Europeans, for that matter.)

It was just a few years ago that the intelligentsia spoke smugly about how silly George W. Bush was to believe that democracy could survive, let alone flourish, in the Middle East. This foolish man simply didn't understand that...well, these people just didn't have a culture that could support democracy. There were plenty of highbrow explanations--decades of living under dictators, the belief among some (radical) Muslims that a government created by Man was questioning God's will, or some other story.

It really came down to one thing: many of these elites didn't think (whisper) Arabs were up to it. The soft bigotry of low expectations doesn't stop at the water's edge, sadly. I was ready to celebrate how obviously wrong they've been proven, until I read the comments posted online following a New York Times article about the Iraqi election. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

Overwhelmingly, the posters ridiculed the notion of Iraqi democracy. They were apparently still living in 2005, when the Iraqi army and police forces resembled Barney Fife more than competent organizations. Bush Derangement Syndrome was on clear display. (How long has he been gone?) Even after Newsweek acknowledged that victory in Iraq is finally close at hand, the smug, self-proclaimed, smarter-than-you-because-I-read-the-Times were insisting that the US military is still in the lead, it still occupies the entire country, and Maliki is a hand-picked stooge.

Ask any vet who's been to Iraq since the surge, and he or she will tell you the Iraqis have been in the lead for quite a while, the army and police are getting there, and Maliki is nobody's stooge but Maliki's (Basrah, anyone?). Frankly, a lot of them probably wish he was ours, because he causes them a lot of grief (albeit nothing like Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai). Of course, what would they know? They've only been there. They aren't writing comments from Massachusetts or California, so how could they know anything?

The really sad part wasn't the leftover BDS, or the tired claims we went there for the oil. (Wow, that worked out well, didn't it?) The sad part was the continuing, subtle racism on the part of these leftist elites. I say leftist based on the overall context of their comments, and I mean racism. The notion that these people could possibly understand democracy still seems absurd to them. These people are just fools under America's imperialist boot; fools who would reelect Saddam if he hadn't been hanged.

Which, of course, is the point--these people are religious (doesn't matter which one); these people are obviously right-wingers (Saddam and W were both dictators, right?); these people don't understand they aren't smart enough to govern themselves, and should be living obediently under their masters like the rest of the Middle East. Yet, some of the smuggest writers couldn't even keep straight which sect of Islam is the majority in Iraq (Shia, for the record) and which one Saddam belonged to (that would be Sunni).

Fortunately for the Middle East, and the world, these people don't listen to the naysayers. Last I checked, they had a civilization 5000 years ago. Iraqi democracy may or may not survive, but I seem to recall some European countries that have had similar problems. I think the Iraqis will do just fine.