Tunisia and Iraq

The analytical gymnastics Jennifer Rubin is forced to perform here to defend the invasion of Iraq are pretty impressive. If the Tunisian revolution spurs reform in neighboring countries, her line of reasoning goes, Iraq’s quasi-democratic political process must be having a similar effect in the region. I know little about the Middle East and less about Tunisia, but let me suggest one important distinction: If the “Jasmine Revolution” inspires emulation in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it will have something to do with the fact that Tunisia’s political upheaval was a genuinely organic, popular movement that isn’t perceived as the result of outside meddling. Whatever the merits of Iraq’s new government, it will never enjoy that type of currency in the region, which is why overblown claims about the positive regional consequences of our invasion remain so unpersuasive.

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37 thoughts on “Tunisia and Iraq

  1. Well, that was the neo-con argument from the first, that all men yearn to breathe free. Topple the dictators, the people will fill in the blanks. In the immediate aftermath, which went poorly, it seemed to be a manifestly risible proposition.

    Whether Tunisia has anything to do with toppling Saddam, I do not know whether we can say right now. [That it got Khadafi in line, bigtime and in a hurry, is a live proposition. Shed his WMDs, not as of yet on the end of the hangman’s rope. Worked out for all and sundry.]

    Cuba, after the Castros are gone, might be probative.

    I prefer to take the long view, per Chou-en-lai’s [apocryphal] response to whether the French Revolution was a good thing:

    “It’s too soon to tell.”

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    • Whether Tunisia has anything to do with toppling Saddam, I do not know whether we can say right now.

      I think it was the Giants winning the World Series, myself. There’s precisely as much evidence for one as the other.

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    • Given that Iraq is still plagued with widespread violence and a generally unpopular, though “democratically elected” and, to date at least, largely ineffective government, it’s surprising that more Arab states haven’t seen how wonderful democracy-by-force has worked out for Iraq and decided to try it themselves. I mean, we can all see that Libya wouldn’t be the democracy it is today if it hadn’t been for the size of George W. Bush’s testicles (one wonders what Tom knows about what was going on in Libya prior to the invasion of Iraq).

      Personally, I can’t decide which was the bigger influence in the decision of the people of Tunisia to effectively overthrow their government: the 8 years of horrific violence and foreign military occupation that “democracy” has given Iraq, or the fact that people in Tunisia were spending 60, 70, even 80% of their income on food, as food prices continued to rise while a corrupt government did little more than sit back and watch. It could be either one.

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      • Sorry Chris, I just can’t read your silliness and ignorance regarding Iraq and Tunisia, and not think of the inestimable, Baghdad Bob. I have to do some research–you must have lifted this from Chomsky or Navajo Chief Ward Churchill. Any chance you’re hiding former Iraqi Baath party members in your basement? You really should have been Saddam’s Propaganda Minister–you would have succeeded masterfully at pulling the wool over the world’s eyes. And to denounce and ridicule the attempts of this country and our allies, to give Iraqis a chance to live in peace and freedom is simply shameful. You are one heartless dude. So what did you most enjoy? The mass graves? Throwing people into packs of vicious dogs? The rape rooms? Feeding people, feet first into shredders? Mengele type medical care? You remember that, don’t you? I’ve seen the videos–cutting out tongues, cutting of fingers, ears, toes. Raping children in front of their parents? How about the use of chemical weapons in Halabja that killed 5,000 unarmed men, women, and children and severely injured thousands more. You leftists just repulse me.

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  2. “If the “Jasmine Revolution” inspires emulation in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it will have something to do with the fact that Tunisia’s political upheaval was a genuinely organic, popular movement that isn’t perceived as the result of outside meddling.”

    It makes sense that a yearning for democracy must be part of the zeitgeist in order to take hold. Of course, we and the other democracies could always provide assistance.

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  3. Whether Tunisia has anything to do with toppling Saddam, I do not know whether we can say right now. [That it got Khadafi in line, bigtime and in a hurry, is a live proposition. Shed his WMDs, not as of yet on the end of the hangman’s rope. Worked out for all and sundry.]

    I had lunch the other day with someone who has friends working in Lybia and was telling me that there are anti-government protests there that aren’t getting reported.

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  4. But if Tunisians democratically elect a theocratic Muslim government, will the neocons admit that they were wrong?

    More likely, they’ll deny and keep cheering.

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    • True, Jason, that’s the fly in the ointment, particularly Fukuyma’s “End of History,” that man yearns to live in a secular neo-liberal democracy.

      However, the choices aren’t as stark as Western secular democracy on one hand and Muslim theocracy on the other. It’s perfectly reasonable that a majority Muslim country would reject secularism and indeed westernism, and still come up with something like Malaysia, that suits their Islamic ethos.

      And something like Malaysia catching on the the Muslim world [incl Iraq] might work just fine. Not quite the Western mind’s cup of tea, but close enough for rock’n’roll.

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  5. I think the jury’s still out on whether the Jasmine Revolution is going to spur actual reforms in Tunisia, much less on the surrounding countries. That said, I’ll ask my sister if she’s heard any rumblings in Rabat (Morocco).

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