Friday, January 05, 2007

Bush an Iranian agent? - Slavoj Žižek - New York Times

David Seaton's News Links
One of the positive effects of the failure in Iraq is that many people have begun to ask questions. Once they begin to ask questions, it's hard to know where they'll stop. Probably without the Iraq fiasco, someone as original, fertile and playful as the Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, wouldn't get space in the New York Times. In these dismal days we must take our pleasures where we can. If you haven't read anything by Žižek before, here is your chance to begin the adventure. DS
Denying the Facts, Finding the Truth - New York Times Abstract: One of the pop heroes of the Iraq war was undoubtedly Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the unfortunate Iraqi information minister who, in his daily press conferences during the invasion, heroically denied even the most evident facts and stuck to the Iraqi line.(...) Furthermore, sometimes, he even struck a strange truth — when confronted with claims that Americans were in control of parts of Baghdad, he snapped back: “They are not in control of anything — they don’t even control themselves!” What, exactly, do they not control? Back in 1979, in her essay “Dictatorship and Double Standards,” published in Commentary, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick elaborated the distinction between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regimes. This concept served as the justification of the American policy of collaborating with right-wing dictators while treating Communist regimes much more harshly(...) Her point was that, while one can deal with authoritarian rulers who react rationally and predictably to material and military threats, totalitarian leaders are much more dangerous and have to be directly confronted. The irony is that this distinction encapsulates perfectly what went wrong with the United States occupation of Iraq: Saddam Hussein was a corrupt authoritarian dictator striving to keep his hold on power and guided by brutal pragmatic considerations (which led him to collaborate with the United States in the 1980s).(...) One outcome of the American invasion is that it has generated a much more uncompromising “fundamentalist” politico-ideological constellation in Iraq. This has led to a predominance of the pro-Iranian political forces there — the intervention basically delivered Iraq to Iranian influence. One can imagine how, if President Bush were to be court-martialed by a Stalinist judge, he would be instantly condemned as an “Iranian agent.” The violent outbursts of the recent Bush politics are thus not exercises in power, but rather exercises in panic.(...) The problem with today’s America is not that it is a new global empire, but that it is not one. That is, while pretending to be an empire, it continues to act like a nation-state, ruthlessly pursuing its interests. It is as if the guiding vision of recent American politics is a weird reversal of the well-known motto of the ecologists — act globally, think locally.(...) And now the United States is continuing, through other means, this greatest crime of Saddam Hussein: his never-ending attempt to topple the Iranian government. This is the price you have to pay when the struggle against the enemies is the struggle against the evil ghosts in your own closet: you don’t even control yourself. READ IT ALL

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