10/20/2004: Bush will accept fundamentalist state in Iraq, he says....
"Itís very difficult for me to predict what forces will exist, although I will tell you that Iraqís leadership has made it quite clear that they can manage their own affairs at the appropriate time."Juan Cole has some choice comments about that:
If free and open Iraqi elections lead to the seating of a fundamentalist Islamic government, "I will be disappointed. But democracy is democracy," Bush said. "If thatís what the people choose, thatís what the people choose."
Given that Bush has ensconced the Christian right in many of his administration's policies, I suppose we should just check with Iyad Allawi as to whether "if free and open American elections lead to the seating of a fundamentalist Christian government," he would be willing to "accept" that.
Really, the president cannot help patronizing the Iraqis. A while ago he talked about them taking off their "training wheels," as though high-powered Iraqi physicists, lawyers and physicians were somehow reduced to little children just because the US has 138,000 troops in their country.
I think it can be fairly argued that the Bush "war on terror" has actually spread Islamic fundamentalism. (Bush coddling of Ariel Sharon's harsh policies in Palestine has also contributed).
Since Bush began acting aggressively in the region, the United Action Council of (often pro-Bin Laden!) fundamentalist parties in Pakistan has come to power by itself in the Northwest Frontier Province, in coalition in Baluchistan, and has 17% of the seats in parliament! Despite Pakistan's unwarranted reputation for "fundamentalism," in fact most Pakistanis are Sufis or traditionalists who dislike fundamentalism, and the latter parties seldom got more than 2-3% of seats in any election in which they ran. Until Bush came along.
In Iraq, a whole series of Muslim fundamentalist parties-- al-Da`wa, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Sadrists, the Salafis, and now al-Qaeda, have been unleashed by Bush. They seem likely to win any election held in Iraq, since the secularists remain disorganized.
In the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan now slated for spring 2005, the Taliban or the cousins of the Taliban are likely to be a major party, benefiting from the Pushtun vote.
We could go on (a similar story of new-found fundamentalist strength could be told for Indonesia, e.g.) The real legacy of Bush to the Muslim world will likely not be secular democracy, but the provocation of Muslim publics into voting for the Muslim fundamentalists on a scale never before seen in the region.
But then since Bush wants to subvert the separation of religion and state in the United States, with his theologically (!) driven stem cell policy and his hand-outs to cults like the Moonies, at least he is being consistent when it comes to his Middle East policy.
Len on 10.20.04 @ 05:00 PM CST