Ask Auntie Pinko
March 24, 2005
By Auntie Pinko
With Egypt announcing plans for democracy and new upraising
in Lebanon, the United States is giving itself tremendous amounts
of credit for creating a "domino democracy effect." However,
these new developments may be very separate from the Iraqi invasion.
How much of this is due to the war in Iraq, and when, if ever, do
we start giving Bush credit for this?
A fair question, I think. Auntie will try to resist cynical comparisons
to stopped clocks and how often they are right in the course of
my response. Oops. Guess I blew that one, didn't I?
The effort of citizens in the Middle East to achieve political
self-determination is an unequivocally positive trend, although
it may have negative consequences for American interests. The obvious
one is that they really don't seem to like us very much (many decades
of America propping up, in the interests of oil profits, the dictatorial
regimes they are trying to replace might account for that, don't
So if they do achieve such self-determination, the resulting governments
might end up in the same category as the Venezuelan government on
the State Department ledger.
However, as the world has come to realize, "elections" do not
always equate to political self-determination. And in countries
with many deeply divided factions (like Iraq) political self-determination
will not necessarily result in a functional and effective government.
I do not know exactly what factors differentiate a successful
reorganization, like the division of the former Czechoslovakia into
Slovakia and the Czech Republic, from a bloodbath like the breakup
of Yugoslavia. The artificial political boundaries and national
distinctions forced upon the peoples of the Middle Eastern region
in the wake of World War I make it inevitable that if the "domino
democracy effect" continues and succeeds, there will be many such
The levels of chaos, violence, and bloodshed accompanying such
reorganizations may cause many to re-think their opinion of the
desirability of political self-determination in the region.
However, I do believe that in the long run, there is no place
to go but up - especially if we can limit the self-interested (and
even the well-intentioned) meddling of outside parties. Such meddling
would be least harmful under the aegis of a multi-national body
like the UN, which includes some level of participation from all
of the outside parties with all of their competing interests, and
achieves some level of balance amongst them.
To what extent has Mr. Bush's meddling in the region already been
a controlling or catalytic factor in this process? That will be
for history to decide. We do not have enough perspective to judge
where that particular factor stands in the overall picture. I think
it is undeniable that it is a factor. To that extent, we should
certainly acknowledge that Mr. Bush's actions in the Middle East
have had both positive and negative effects.
Mr. Bush's staunch advocacy of "liberty," "freedom," "democracy,"
etc., has probably had a positive effect on the pace and scope of
movements toward political self-determination, not just in the Middle
East, but around the world. Whether, in the long view of history,
this positive effect is a critical one or a lasting one is impossible
to say now. I would like to think that it could be. Auntie Pinko
would not like America remembered as an entirely negative or negligible
influence in world affairs during the first decade of the 21st Century.
Whether the impact of Mr. Bush's advocacy outweighs the damage
done, both domestically, and worldwide, by so many other actions
of his Administration is another question. Again, history will judge.
The law of unintended consequences works in all directions; who
can say where this chain of events will lead?
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