Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Arab youth are demanding reform

'It is about time. For the last 50 years, America (and Europe and Asia) have treated the Middle East as if it were just a collection of big gas stations: Saudi station, Iran station, Kuwait station, Bahrain station, Egypt station, Libya station, Iraq station, United Arab Emirates station, etc. Our message to the region has been very consistent: “Guys (it was only guys we spoke with), here’s the deal. Keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t bother the Israelis too much and, as far as we’re concerned, you can do whatever you want out back. You can deprive your people of whatever civil rights you like. You can engage in however much corruption you like. You can preach whatever intolerance from your mosques that you like. You can print whatever conspiracy theories about us in your newspapers that you like. You can keep your women as illiterate as you like. You can create whatever vast welfare-state economies, without any innovative capacity, that you like. You can undereducate your youth as much as you like. Just keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t hassle the Jews too much — and you can do whatever you want out back.”

It was that attitude that enabled the Arab world to be insulated from history for the last 50 years — to be ruled for decades by the same kings and dictators. Well, history is back. The combination of rising food prices, huge bulges of unemployed youth and social networks that are enabling those youths to organize against their leaders is breaking down all the barriers of fear that kept these kleptocracies in power.'

--Thomas Friedman

26 comments :

Maury said...

Friedman is so full of shit.

"You can deprive your people of whatever civil rights you like."

They were told just the opposite. The State Dept. is always pressing these regimes for more civil rights. Don't believe me. Read the Wikileaks. Friedman would have you believe we put Chavez in power and keep him there. Because he keeps the gas pumps open.....LOL.

K said...

This is so offensive, so cliché, so pompous, so revisionist, so racist, so backward I am truly sickened.

Maury is right. Friedman is so full of shit.

Iraqi Mojo said...

It's not quite true the way he says it. I think his statements are more true for some countries (like Egypt) than others (like Iran).

But I think he makes a good point, even if his generalizations are flawed. The US has great influence over many of these countries, giving them billions of dollars every year for various reasons. Although there has been some progress over the years in some of those countries, a lot of it due to US influence (like in Kuwait), it has not been enough. KSA may be the best example of the US govt ignoring what goes on in KSA, and sometimes working with them to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, without really caring about what goes on inside those countries. The US has had a special relationship with those Wahhabi assholes for decades, buying billions of dollars in oil from them, ARAMCO, allying with them against communism and not caring much when they paid for madrasas in Pakistan to teach Wahhabism. Did that not come back to bite us in the ass? Have you seen Charlie Wilson's War?

What he says about "don't bother the Israelis too much" is so true about the special relationships.

But I don't think the US attitude was the only thing that enabled to be "insulated from history" and to be ruled by kings and dictators.

I gotta run, will follow up later.

K said...

"KSA may be the best example of the US govt ignoring what goes on in KSA, and sometimes working with them to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, without really caring about what goes on inside those countries." -Mojo

The US fighting the Soviet Union from unchecked expansionism is not "Keep the pumps open."

The Soviet Union was a very serious strategic threat to the entire world including the Mid East equal to, if not far greater than, all the Arab dictators combined. This is another thing those so-called leftist leaders that defend dictators still refuse to acknowledge. The Soviet union murdered tens of millions of people and threaten the lives of billions.

I don't have time to go any further, Mojo, maybe we can chat about it sometime and I can explain why I find it so awful and harmful to the cause of promoting democracy.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I think it was a noble thing of the US and KSA to work with Pakistan and Afghani freedom fighters to defeat the Soviets. After the Soviets retreated, the US also retreated, not caring much about aid to Afghanistan. That was a big mistake. I betchya the Saudis spent more money on Wahhabi madrasas in Afghanistan in the 80s than the US spent on the entire country. If the movie Charlie Wilson's War is accurate, that Congressman, who did so much to get the US and KSA to fund the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan, wanted funding for Afghani schools after the war, and yet the rest of Congress laughed at him. The war was won, they thought. And there's other things to spend our money on!

The US govt must have known that KSA was funding the spread of Wahhabism throughout the region, yet they didn't seem to do much about it. Until 9/11.

In other parts of the world, I believe the US went way too far in fighting communism, like in Vietnam, for example. I would say the Vietnam war was not worth 50,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives.

In the 1950s in Iran, the US and British govts supported the overthrow of Mussadaq, who had nationalized Iran's oil fields. In Iraq the US supported the likes of Saddam Hussein to overthrow Abdul Karim Qasim (a communist) after he nationalized Iraq's oil fields. In both those countries, the result was a disaster.

The history of WWII is very interesting, and the subsequent Cold War also shaped world politics and systems of government. I would not have wanted to live in the USSR, and I'm glad we saw the peaceful end of communism and dictatorship (mostly) in Europe. But it's clear enough that US foreign policy was sometimes just plain wrong after WWII. There's nothing wrong with admitting that, I don't think.

Have you seen the movie Dr. Strangelove?

Iraqi Mojo said...

Wikipedia spells it Mosaddegh, another one of those spellings that I think is wrong.

Iraqi Mojo said...

"Mosaddegh was an author, administrator, lawyer, prominent parliamentarian, and politician. During his time as prime minister, a wide range of progressive social reforms were carried out. Unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords' estates. Twenty percent of the money landlords received in rent was placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control.[4]"

Wow, Joe McCarthy must have thought the guy was EVIL! I wonder if some Republicans would still consider him evil. LOL

K said...

He may have been very popular. He may have done all sorts of noble things. And he did managed to get a whopping 79 people to vote for him. He may have played a great Persian Robin Hood against the big bad oil company who built all those shiny new oil wells. But lets be honest: Mosaddegh was just another Royal dictator.

This is the problem, Mojo! Not US foreign policy. Not America's numerous strategic and moral mistakes. The problem is this constant selective victimology. This selective defense of anyone who opposes the U.S. or other liberal democracy without real forethought - this persistent redirection and misattribution of the true causes of dictatorship.

I don't think Mosaddegh was evil, mojo. I don't think communism is evil either. I don't even think the Soviets were evil. I have plenty of communist friends who grew up just fine in America. But there is still no way in hell I'm ever going to live in a world where anyone who doesn't think a certain way approved by the state gets murdered. That road has lead to the death and suffering of hundreds of millions of people. It is nothing to laugh at.

Sure, I've seen both those movies and I am an HUGE Kubric fan. You know damn well I'm not a Republican. This is not film school. This is reality.

But it sure bugs the shit out of me that people can fall for the same damn trick over and over: "Lets blame the most powerful democracy in the world and the most prolific democracy advocate in the world for the lack of our democracy. Meanwhile, keep using that misdirected anger to fight democracy." How the fuck does that trick keep working? It drives me crazy.

That is what has happened for 50 years. It doesn't have a god damn thing to do with oil.

Iraqi Mojo said...

OK let's not blame the USA for what what turned out to be dictatorship in Iran and Iraq, so that Americans are not offended, lol.

"On 28 April 1951, the Majlis (Parliament of Iran) named Mosaddegh as new prime minister by a vote of 79–12. Aware of Mosaddegh's rising popularity and political power, the young Shah appointed Mosaddegh to the Premiership. On 1 May, Mosaddegh nationalized the AIOC, cancelling its oil concession due to expire in 1993 and expropriating its assets. The next month a committee of five majlis deputies was sent to Khuzistan to enforce the nationalization."

Iraqi Mojo said...

Let's not blame anybody. Let's simply recall history:

'Still enormously popular in late 1951, Mosaddegh called elections. His base of support was in urban areas and not in the provinces.[26] This fact was reflected in the rejection of Mosaddegh's bill for electoral reform (which no longer disqualified illiterates from electoral participation) by the conservative bloc, on the grounds that it would "unjustly discriminate patriots who had been voting for the last forty years".[27]

According to Ervand Abrahamian: "Realizing that the opposition would take the vast majority of the provincial seats, Mosaddegh stopped the voting as soon as 79 deputies – just enough to form a parliamentary quorum — had been elected."[28] An alternative account is offered by Stephen Kinzer. Beginning in the early 1950s under the guidance of C.M. Woodhouse, chief of the British intelligence station in Tehran, Britain's covert operations network had funneled roughly £10,000 per month to the Rashidian brothers (two of Iran's most influential royalists) in the hope of buying off, according to CIA estimates, "the armed forces, the Majlis (Iranian parliament), religious leaders, the press, street gangs, politicians and other influential figures".[29] Thus, in his statement asserting electoral manipulation by "foreign agents", Mosaddegh suspended the elections. His National Front party had made up 30 of the 79 deputies elected. Yet none of those present vetoed the statement, and the elections were postponed indefinitely. The 17th Majlis convened on February 1952.
Tension soon began to escalate in the Majlis. Conservative opponents refused to grant Mosaddegh special powers to deal with the economic crisis caused by the sharp drop in revenue and voiced regional grievances against the capital Tehran, while the National Front waged "a propaganda war against the landed upper class".[26]

On 16 July 1952, during the royal approval of his new cabinet, Mosaddegh insisted on the constitutional prerogative of the prime minister to name a Minister of War and the Chief of Staff, something the Shah had done hitherto. The Shah refused, and Mosaddegh announced his resignation appealing directly to the public for support, pronouncing that "in the present situation, the struggle started by the Iranian people cannot be brought to a victorious conclusion".[30]

Veteran politician Ahmad Qavam (also known as Ghavam os-Saltaneh) was appointed as Iran's new prime minister. On the day of his appointment, he announced his intention to resume negotiations with the British to end the oil dispute, a reversal of Mosaddegh's policy. The National Front — along with various Nationalist, Islamist, and socialist parties and groups[31] — including Tudeh — responded by calling for protests, strikes and mass demonstrations in favor of Mosaddegh. Major strikes broke out in all of Iran's major towns, with the Bazaar closing down in Tehran. Over 250 demonstrators in Tehran, Hamadan, Ahvaz, Isfahan, and Kermanshah were killed or suffered serious injuries.[32]
After five days of mass demonstrations on Siyeh-i Tir (the 30th of Tir on the Iranian calendar), military commanders, ordered their troops back to barracks, fearful of overstraining the enlisted men's loyalty and left Tehran in the hands of the protesters.[33] Frightened by the unrest, Shah dismissed Qavam and re-appointed Mosaddegh, granting him the full control of the military he had previously demanded.'

K said...

And just for fun, here is a fact for you Mojo:

Turns out the EVIL free market and the EVIL communists have provided way too much fluoride to our teeth. It causes fluorosis when there is too much in the water, and in tooth paste, and in bottled water, and in mouth wash and...

Anyhoo, the U.S. Department of Health decided to step up and curb the maximum concentration of fluoride almost in half to 0.7ppm.

Many scientist still don't think this was enough... go figure.

Iraqi Mojo said...

'The government of the United Kingdom had grown increasingly distressed over Mosaddegh's policies and were especially bitter over the loss of their control of the Iranian oil industry. Repeated attempts to reach a settlement had failed.

Unable to resolve the issue single handedly due to its post-World War II problems, Britain looked towards the United States to settle the issue. Initially America had opposed British policies. After American mediation had failed several times to bring about a settlement, American Secretary of State Dean Acheson concluded that the British were "destructive and determined on a rule or ruin policy in Iran."[38] By early 1953, however, Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidential election in the United States and a change in US policy toward Iran ensued.

Despite Mosaddegh's open disgust with socialism, Winston Churchill told the United States that Mosaddegh was "increasingly turning towards communism" and was moving Iran towards the Soviet sphere at a time of high Cold War fears.[39][40][41][42]

Acting on the opposition to Mosaddegh by the British government and fears that he was, or would become, dependent on the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party at a time of expanding Soviet influence,[43] the United States and Britain began to publicly denounce Mosaddegh's policies for Iran as harmful to the country.

In the meantime the already precarious alliance between Mosaddegh and Kashani was severed in January 1953, when Kashani opposed Mosaddegh's demand that his increased powers be extended for a period of one year.'

Iraqi Mojo said...

'In October 1952, Mosaddegh declared Britain an enemy, and cut all diplomatic relations.[44] In November and December 1952, British intelligence officials suggested to American intelligence that the prime minister should be ousted. The new US administration under Dwight D. Eisenhower and the British government under Winston Churchill agreed to work together toward Mosaddegh's removal. In March 1953, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles directed the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was headed by his younger brother Allen Dulles, to draft plans to overthrow Mosaddegh.[45]

On 4 April 1953, CIA director Dulles approved US$1 million to be used "in any way that would bring about the fall of Mosaddegh". Soon the CIA's Tehran station started to launch a propaganda campaign against Mosaddegh. Finally, according to The New York Times, in early June, American and British intelligence officials met again, this time in Beirut, and put the finishing touches on the strategy. Soon afterward, according to his later published accounts, the chief of the CIA's Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. the grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to direct it.[46] In 2000, The New York Times made partial publication of a leaked CIA document titled, Clandestine Service History – Overthrow of Premier Mosaddegh of Iran – November 1952-August 1953. This document describes the point-by-point planning of the coup by agent Donald Wilbur, and execution conducted by the American and British governments. The New York Times published this critical document with the names censored. The New York Times also limited its publication to scanned image (bitmap) format, rather than machine-readable text. This document was eventually published properly – in text form, and fully unexpurgated. The complete CIA document is now web published. The word ‘blowback' appeared for the very first time in this document.'

Iraqi Mojo said...

'The secret U.S. overthrow of Mosaddegh served as a rallying point in anti-US protests during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and to this day he is said to be one of the most popular figures in Iranian history.[55] Despite this, he is generally ignored by the government of the Islamic Republic because of his secularism and western manners.[56]

The withdrawal of support for Mosaddegh by the powerful Shia clergy has been regarded as having been motivated by their fear of the chaos of a communist takeover.[57] Some argue that while many elements of Mosaddegh's coalition abandoned him it was the loss of support from Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani and other clergy that was fatal to his cause, reflective of the dominance of the Ulema in Iranian society and a portent of the Islamic Revolution to come. The loss of the political clerics effectively cut Mosaddegh's connections with the lower middle classes and the Iranian masses which are crucial to any popular movement in Iran.[58]'

Iraqi Mojo said...

But let's not blame the USA! America doesn't make mistakes!

I love Wikipedia.

K said...

I think it's sweet of you to not want to offend me (uh hem, I mean the Americans, LOL) but that's really not the point. It the cause of promoting democracy I don't want to see offended Mo. You once told my buddy that I was "very pro-American" and I sure didn't like that. It made me sad to see you misread me so badly. I am pro-democracy. I'm trying to convince (clearly, quite poorly) that this type of victimological thinking is harmful to the democratic "end-game" itself, to borrow a phrase from the Charlie's War movie.

K said...

"I love Wikipedia." -Mojo

Not seeing where you are going with this Mo. Is there some fact I got wrong that Wiki can set me straight on, in your opinion?

K said...

"But let's not blame the USA! America doesn't make mistakes!" -Mojo

Hardly!

You are an American and I AM accusing YOU of making a mistake of sorts. At least in MY opinion.

But hey. I'm guessing 300 million people probably make about 3 billion mistakes a day.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I remember a girlfriend in Boulder telling me that there's too much fluoride in tap water. I didn't realize the water fluoridation controversy has been around since the 1940s.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I thought the Wiki article clearly showed that the US and UK subverted democracy in Iran. Do you disagree?

Iraqi Mojo said...

I think there's nothing wrong with saying that the great country of the USA made a mistake in supporting the overthrow of the popular Iranian leader Mussadeq. It's history, water under the bridge, just like Saddam.

Iraqi Mojo said...

"The complete CIA document is now web published. The word ‘blowback' appeared for the very first time in this document."

So even the CIA essentially admitted they made a mistake, which caused blowback.

K said...

That's weird. Cause it's in the movie. I learned about it in a class I took at a local collage in high school when I found out the chemical reaction that allows fluoride to help your teeth.

Mo, maybe the other stuff would be better discussed over a drink?

Iraqi Mojo said...

It is in Dr. Strangelove, but I thought it was a joke.

Yes let's meet for a drink soon.

K said...

"I thought the Wiki article clearly showed that the US and UK subverted democracy in Iran. Do you disagree?" -Mojo

Yes. I disagree. A tactical mistake of the U.S. to fund a coup? Sure. Subverted democracy? No. Because Mussadeq was not a democrat. He was another popular Royal dictator just like the rest. He was elected by 79 people. He declared emergency rule. He confiscated property that was not his. He dissolved Parliament. He suspended constitutional rights. He abolished the secret ballot. Iran has NEVER known true democracy. I hope it will be soon.

Iraqi Mojo said...

I see where you're coming from, K. Maybe too many people think Mossadeq was a true democrat, when he really wasn't. Too many people blame the US for all the bad things that happened in Iran. It's like saying Saddam's WMD was all made in the US. I actually saw an Arab American woman say exactly that on facebook the other day.

My aim is not to blame the US. I just want to get the history straight, and I still believe it's ok to acknowledge mistakes in the history of US foreign policy. It doesn't mean America is a terrible country. America is still a great country, and I'm sure the US govt would support true democracy in Iran today.