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After All, It's President George W. Bush: So "Attention Must Be Paid!"

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Linda: He's not the finest character that ever lived.
But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is
happening to him. So attention must be paid.
He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like
an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be
paid to such a person. You called him crazy-

Biff: I didn't mean…

(A bit later)

Biff: He threw me out of this house, remember that.

Linda: Why did he do that? I never knew why.

Biff: Because I knew he was a fake and he doesn't like
anybody around who knows.

--- Arthur Miller, Death of a Saleman

The "Willy Loman" of American presidents, George W. Bush, recently was out hustling for suckers again, trying to make a sale. Poor, pathetic George. Like Willy, "he's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back - that's an earthquake." [Death of a Salesman]

These days, most Americans are not smiling back. Especially when the sale is Bush's "surge" in Iraq - and especially when a suicide bomber can penetrate Baghdad's ultra-secure Green Zone and blow himself (herself?) up inside the Iraqi parliament. As the Los Angeles Times reported on April 13, 2007, the suicide bombing "struck at the heart of Iraq's struggling democracy and the U.S. security plan that is trying to bolster it."

A member of Iraq's parliament, Khalaf al-Ilyan, was even more emphatic: "The plan is 100% a failure. It's a complete flop…The explosion means that instability and lack of security has reached the Green Zone." [USA Today, April 13, 2007] And, as the director of the Security and Terrorism Studies program at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, Mustafa al-Ani, observed, "The claim that the security plan has sent insurgents scattering into the provinces has proven to be false." [Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 2007] Finally, as the Iraq specialist at the Congressional Research Service, Kenneth Katzman concluded: "If you add it all up, I don't see how you conclude the surge is working." [USA Today, April 13, 2007]

Sensing that the Green Zone suicide bomber would once again demolish yet another of his incessant Pollyannaish sales pitches (e.g., "Mission Accomplished"), Bush "strongly condemned the act and said it was an attack against a 'symbol of democracy.'" [, April 12, 2007] But, that very same day, Bush's inane assertion about Iraq's democracy received a sharp rebuke, when "an international panel charged with recommending invitations for an exclusive meeting of the world's democracies" excluded Iraq. ["Club Democracy Says Iraq Isn't Worthy of Invite," Washington Post, April 13, 2007]

Although it's bad enough for Bush to misunderstand "symbols" of democracy, what's worse is his actual manipulation of the American public, in order to incite them to support his evil war. Such behavior suggests he seriously misunderstands real democracy. So, too, does his resort to illegal wiretaps. And so, too, does his refusal to listen to the people, even after they gave his Iraq policy a new "accountability moment" in November 2006

In addition, our huckster president failed to mention two inconvenient facts about the Iraqi Parliament inside the Green Zone: (1) The Green Zone is widely viewed to be the "symbol" of America's hated occupation of Iraq and (2) the Iraqi Parliament probably wouldn't last one day without its protection. As Wayne White (Middle East Institute) has observed: "The legislature is dominated by 'militia-connected parliamentarians, does not include enough Sunnis, and beyond that isn't broadly reflective of even the Shiite community.'" [Los Angeles Times ] Zbigniew Brzezinski was blunter still: "A lot of guys in the Green Zone - not all, but a lot of them - will pack their bags and leave when we leave." [Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 2007]

Moreover, beyond repeatedly demonstrating a profound, probably willful, ignorance about what constitutes genuine democracy, Bush hasn't a clue about how democracies emerge or deteriorate. But, then, Bush has allowed himself to be tutored about democracy by America's neocons, whose uncritical and enthusiastic support for Israel appears to motivate their superficial and grossly optimistic assessments about the prospects for bringing democracy to Iraq -even at the point of a gun.

Prior to the neocon con about the ease with which democracy could blossom in the Middle East, other scholars had emphasized the unique conditions that had permitted democracy to grow and flourish in Europe and the United States. Brian Downing, for example, had concluded: "Unique characteristics such as elective representative assemblies, royal subordination to law, the independence of towns, a balance of power between kings, nobles, and clerics, peasant property rights, and decentralized military forces, 'provided Europe with a predisposition toward democratic political institutions, a predisposition that can never be repeated in the modern developing world.'" [Quoted from Walter C. Uhler at ]

Additionally, a new book by the eminent scholar, Charles Tilly, renders the manure flung by Bush and the neocons (about democracy) even more odoriferous. Briefly, Professor Tilly concludes: "The fundamental processes promoting democratization in all times and places…consists of increasing integration of trust networks into public politics, increasing insulation of public politics from categorical inequality, and decreasing autonomy of major power centers from public politics." [Charles Tilly, Democracy, p. 23]

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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