Monday, November 13, 2006

"So if foreign leaders are celebrating, I think they underestimate the American democratic system."

-Tony Snow, 11/10/06

He may not have Bush's way with words, but this tidbit will be fun to bat around, trust me. It will only take a few minutes.

He meant that the congressional makeover won't cripple our ability to deal with 'enemies' and 'threats'. This was the response that occurred to him when a reporter suggested that leaders of Iran and al-Qaeda had expressed joy at the Democratic victory. He assumed that they were celebrating because they could now behave more violently without as much danger of blond crusaders shooting them up. And I suppose I believe that there are some Arabs out there who probably do think so. But the Iranians, and I believe most members of al-Qaeda, have a very different rationale for celebration.

Iran is pretty concerned about what's going down to their left, but I don't believe that they have any real hostility towards the US. They are worried by the lack of respect that has been shown to other nations by the US and Israel. This concern is the progenitor of questions like why the 6 million figure and holocaust concept are so favored when the death toll of the war was many times this. This does not amount to denying the holocaust, as some have suggested. We don't seem very dignified when we keep close count of our own dead, and 'overlook' thousands of the natives who've been lost. The 600,000 figure may be very heavy for Bush to think about, but he should pay a little respect to the victims of his re-election strategy by admitting that it may be accurate. His dismissal sends the message that he could run roughshod over many many lives without even realizing, let alone reconsidering, the consequences.

For Iran, the Democratic takeover is a signal that less paranoid hawkish attention will be directed their way (well, there will still be a fair amount, but a smarter, more respectful policy would quickly change their behavior to a form that wouldn't sustain the fearmongering that the republicans are apparently still not satisfied by). I know it will be tricky for our leaders to accept that sanctions are pointless, and Iran's nuclear program will continue. Yet I think that the planned ouster of Bolton is a step in this direction. If we manage to show respect to Tehran, they may decide not to spend the obscene amounts needed to develop nuclear weapons (for the time being, their program appears to be totally focused on the nonviolent applications of nuclear tech). And this is one good reason for them to celebrate the Democratic election.

For al-Q@da, the comprehension of their feeling begins with the admission that despite pretty good intentions, the US is not a consistently 'good' state without a history of grave mistakes. Some of 'our' past decisions, like for example, the empowerment of Saddam, Osama, and the Taliban, and the 1953 oil-grab whose consequences included the dismantling of Iran's democracy, have had some sad side effects on the people who live there. I really believe that a young man could join a cell without any "hatred of freedom", or any desire at all to see anyone hurt, simply because he was sincerely concerned that the US government badly needed a forceful reminder that it can't simply get away with what it please. Such a fighter could celebrate a Dem win as one that could obviate a lot of violence, a lot of 'reminders'.

Unless I'm seriously mistaken, every foreign leader should vigorously celebrate the election.


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