Obama dragged by history

I’ve been trying to figure out how things will go in the Middle East under Obama, and have half-written a post about his Cairo speech, which I hope to finish very soon…… meanwhile, I’ll post this…


My half-baked view (which I’ll expand upon in my future post)  is that he knows that he has no choice but to continue what was begun under Bush.  Nothing else would make any sense.   I think the main clue to this was in his remarks about the necessity for a Palestinian State.  He was more forceful than I’d expected about this.

However,  the entire tone of his speech suggests that the Obama administration  is utterly lily liver’d when it comes to fighting tyranny and propogating the democratic revolution.    The bulk of what he said  was just  liberal waffle about  ‘understanding difference’,  ‘looking into our hearts’, ‘finding what we have in common’  etc etc.   Relationship counselling  stuff…

Obama wordlet

"The Holy Bible tells us "Blessed are the peacemakers…" ' (or was it 'cheesemakers')..

“In order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.”

“It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. “

Notably missing was any reference to the fact that the central problem in the ME   is lack of democracy.  Sectarian division among the people and “violent extremism” (Obama won’t use the ‘T’ word) are the inevitable consequence.   It won’t go away while people continue to live under repressive regimes which thrive on it.

Not surprisingly,  his remarks on Iraq were abysmal .  He believes  (of course!) “that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein..”  but after saying that he comes out with the remarkably empty  comment:

“I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.  Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

It was the Thomas Jefferson quote which got me.  When Bush quoted Jefferson (August 2006),  he  selected differently:

“We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather bed.” (Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1790. ME 8:13)

Out of interest  I began googling for some more Jefferson quotes and decided they were worth posting:

“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” ( (this was  Jefferson’s  his motto, printed on his seal … not his own words))

When patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. deStael, 1807. ME 11:282

“The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed.” –Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

“As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people.” –Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

“It is unfortunate that the efforts of mankind to recover the freedom of which they have been so long deprived, will be accompanied with violence, with errors, and even with crimes. But while we weep over the means, we must pray for the end.” –Thomas Jefferson to Francois D’Ivernois, 1795. ME 9:300

“In the struggle which was necessary [in France], many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as anybody, and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle.” –Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 1793. ME 9:9

“A first attempt to recover the right of self-government may fail, so may a second, a third, etc. But as a younger and more instructed race comes on, the sentiment becomes more and more intuitive, and a fourth, a fifth, or some subsequent one of the ever renewed attempts will ultimately succeed… To attain all this, however, rivers of blood must yet flow, and years of desolation pass over; yet the object is worth rivers of blood and years of desolation. For what inheritance so valuable can man leave to his posterity?” –Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1823. ME 15:465

“The way to Heaven… has always been said to be strewed with thorns.”
–Thomas Jefferson to the Duchesse d’Auville, 1790. ME 8:17

“The generation which commences a revolution rarely complete it. Habituated from their infancy to passive submission of body and mind to their kings and priests, they are not qualified when called on to think and provide for themselves; and their inexperience, their ignorance and bigotry make them instruments often in the hands of the Bonapartes and Iturbides to defeat their own rights and purposes.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1823. ME 15:464

“Alliances, holy or hellish, may be formed and retard the epoch of deliverance, may swell the rivers of blood which are yet to flow, but their own will close the scene and leave to mankind the right of self-government.” –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823. ME 15:490

“[In] the progress of society from its rudest state to that it has now attained,… barbarism has… been receding before the steady step of amelioration, and will in time, I trust, disappear from the earth.” –Thomas Jefferson to William Ludlow, 1824. ME 16:75

“Postpone to the great object of Liberty every smaller motive and passion.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Huntington, 1780. FE 2:298, Papers 3:289

Of course, Jefferson said many other things  (and yes, he was a slave owner).  My point in selecting these quotes  is not to play ‘the quote game’ but to contrast him with today’s bourgeois leaders, who know that they have to complete the democratic revolution,  but can hardly do it.  I suppose moribund is the word.  Heck, they can’t even write their own speeches.

It’s quite remarkable really  that  the Bush regime did manage to get the ball rolling in Iraq.    The development of a genuine democracy in an Arab country with a Shia majority will continue to have an enormous positive impact, not only on the Arab world but in Iran.

Obama clearly knows (as did Bush before him) that the crucial next step must be a Palestinian State.   Unlike people like Jefferson though, he won’t be making history, but just sluggishly obeying it.

gotta do it, I guess

gotta do it, I guess

82 Responses to “Obama dragged by history”

  1. 1 Barry York

    Obama’s speech makes for interesting comparision with that of Condoleezza Rice’s, also in Cairo, on 20 June 2005.

    Whereas Obama appealed to an undifferentiated ‘Muslim world’, Rice appealed to the peoples in the region who pursued democratic aspirations. Were I a regional autocrat, I know which message I’d prefer.

    While Obama sees the problem with US foreign policy in the region as being its supposed lack of diplomacy and consensus-building, Rice saw its flaws as existing for sixty years. Basically, she said the US had it wrong for sixty years. To quote directly:

    “For 60 years, the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy in the Middle East — and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people”.

    The truly historic speech by Rice received little publicity, especially in comparision to the excited headlines around the world for Obama’s.

    Full text of rice here: http://arabist.net/archives/2005/06/20/condoleezza-rices-remarks-and-excerpts-from-her-cairo-speech/

    Having said that, though, it is also true that Obama expressed sympathy with those seeking democracy. He said:

    “I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years. And much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear. No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people.

    “Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election.

    “But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice, government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people, the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas. They are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere”.

    As far as I can see, there is no real difference on Iraq and Palestine. Obama is implementing the Status of Forces Agreement reached by the Iraqis and the Bush administration and, on Israel/Palestine, he is supporting a Palestinian State (though not as yet raising the issue of ‘the right of return’, as Bush did toward the end of his presidency).

    The media reaction is just unbelievable – front page headlines about “a new course”, a ‘fundamental break with Bush’s approach’, blah, blah – and people seem to fall for it. The only good consequence from this is that the essential pro-democracy strategy now has much wider support.

    As keza has pointed out, the course is now set and Obama has little choice but to continue along it. The style and wording of his speech is designed to appeal to his particular constituency with a view to securing support for the ‘drain-the-swamps’ strategy adopted by his predecessor.

  2. 2 Arthur

    I like the Jefferson quotes and the photo caption. Jefferson reminds one of things in common to radicals even from different epochs that separate us from the most “advanced” conservatives and liberals of all tendencies.

    The enthusiasm for Obama contrasted with hysteria for Bush is remarkable. One aspect is the shallowness of mainstream politics and in particular the pseudos identification with “militant” liberalism. They are now left with nothing to say.

    Another less obvious aspect should also be stressed. The main danger to the shift from backing tyranny was and is the mainstream right (including corporate liberalism as opposed to the “liberal left”). Bush went out of his way to irritate the liberal left because their hysterical opposition helped demobilize the right. They never were capable of posing a serious problem because the genuine left (defined broadly) would not in fact seriously oppose a war of liberation by supporting reaction, no matter how stupidly they got taken in by the pseudo-left (ie they would make fools of themselves but not actually get in the way).

    Obama doesn’t have that problem because the mainstream right got committed by Bush. They cannot mobilize against wars their side launched. However he still has the problem of total unenthusiasm and a general preference (which he apparantly shares) for the much more cautious approach that started in the last years of the Bush administration after the backlash. Nevertheless, they are committed now with no turning back.

    I just wish things weren’t moving so slowly and the left wasn’t so completely absent from history!

  3. 3 Barry York

    Another very good quote comes from Michael McFaul of the US National Security Council who said: “In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.”

    I found it in a very good piece by Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian titled ‘Thirst for freedom takes root in dust’: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/janetalbrechtsen/index.php/theaustralian/comments/thirst_for_freedom_takes_root_in_dust/

    Talk about the pseudo’s being to the right of the right!!

  4. 4 jim sharp

    b.y. to paraphrase your femmme fatale
    pit lads labouring for air /
    lay roots of black lung /
    and silicosis be their /
    gawds will & nay compo /
    deathly freeedom /
    be no misfortune

  5. 5 Dalec

    Barry, the gang of clerics who rule Iran are in no way any better than the gang that once ruled in Iraq. The sooner they are overthrown by the democratic forces the better.
    Now, in the interest of being consistent you need to explain why the US should not mount a full scale invasion and occupation of the place or all your polemic will be seen as impotent raving.
    Or are you going to argue that the badness of the respective regimes is only a question of degree?
    I believe that in the struggle to overthrow the clerics and their repressive state apparatus the Iranian people will “drain their own swamps” (to borrow your really bad metaphor). They will make their own destiny.
    If you really believed your own argument regarding Iraq you would be calling for a full scale invasion and occupation by the US and its satraps. If you don’t your entire argument for the invasion and occupation of Iraq falls in a heap.

  6. 6 Barry

    dalec, as I have never argued that the US should invade militarily every country that is ruled by tyrants, I feel no need to respond to your ‘challenge’. What I will point out is that the “gang that once ruled Iraq” would still rule Iraq if you had had your way.

    The ‘draining the swamps’ theory has been proven correct by events that include the establishment of a constitutional democracy in Iraq after the overthrow of the old regime. You guys argued back then that the US would only allow either another dictator or a puppet regime. You have been proven wrong by history.

    I’m sure the people of Iran are inspired by the example of a developing democracy next door: it also makes life much more difficult for Iran’s hard-liners.

    It’s a basic rule of debating that one side should present the opposing side’s point of view in a fair and reasonable way. When you become capable of doing that, I might respond to future posts by you in this thread.

  7. 7 keza

    Dalec wrote:

    “..in the interest of being consistent you need to explain why the US should not mount a full scale invasion and occupation of the place or all your polemic will be seen as impotent raving.
    Or are you going to argue that the badness of the respective regimes is only a question of degree?”

    It is not a question of the “badness” of the regimes. We have never argued that the US (or any other foreign power) should militarily overthrow any regime which scores above a certain point on some sort of ‘evilness scale’. Each case is different.

    Since you seem to operate on the basis of abstract principles alone, rather than considering material reality (ie what is possible, rather than what you would *like* to be possible), I’m not sure whether you can even grasp this. I know I’ve responded to you (and others) on this question before, and that you’ve read it (or I assume you have since you were a participant in the discussion). So either you’re feigning misunderstanding of my/our position in order to be disruptive, or are just incapable of understanding it.

    I know that I’ve said again and again that it would make no sense for the US to invade Iran – indeed that it would be counter-productive. This is due to the fact that Iran is not Iraq (!)..surprise surprise. The people of Iran are in a very different position with regard to being able to overthrow their ruling regime than were the people of Iraq.

    Christopher Hitchens summed up the issues extremely well, back in 2002 in his article Machiavelli in Mesopotamia

    Go and read it and then come back with a reasoned argument as to why you disagree (if you still do).

    Otherwise just shut up and stop posting distortions of our position.

    As Barry wrote above “It’s a basic rule of debating that one side should present the opposing side’s point of view in a fair and reasonable way.” Knocking down straw men is cowardly.

  8. 8 Dalec

    Keza, in 2002 Hitchens called for armed assistance, not a full on invasion and occupation. “I believe that an armed assistance to the imminent Iraqi and Kurdish revolutions can not only make some durable friends, it can also give the theocrats and their despotic patrons something to really hate us for.”
    Later he became a rabid supporter of the classic Invade and occupy Imperial program. As he gradually moved from a “Pseudo Leftist” position to that of an Imperial sycophant. Hitchens in 2002 had enough remnant Marxism to understand my main point, that the nature of and the consequences of the impending internal revolt against the Fascist Saddam regime would be determined by the Iraqi people.
    The Bush regime for various strategic reasons, not the least (it would appear) being to protect the Saudi Regime, decided to invade and occupy Iraq. This was a long way from the position advocated by Hitchens.

    You assert that”The people of Iran are in a very different position with regard to being able to overthrow their ruling regime than were the people of Iraq.” I agree, as it happens, but you offer no analysis that supports this. The problem you have here is that some but not all of the arguments that support the Iranian ability to overthrow their fascist rulers could be applied to Iraq as well.
    Hitchens was probably correct in his estimation that the US should provide armed assistance to the overthrow of the Iraqi regime. I don’t think Hitchens at this stage was advocating a full on invasion and occupation. There is a difference you know.

    I would not get too triumphant about history and Iraq, it is not over yet I fear.

  9. 9 Steve Owens

    Dalek is correct in his understanding of Hichen’s position. Hichen’s states that “His (Saddam) regimen is on the verge of implosion.” Hitchen’s call is for armed assistance not invasion.

  10. 10 keza

    “Hitchens was probably correct in his estimation that the US should provide armed assistance to the overthrow of the Iraqi regime.”

    ooooooooh, you are such a war monger, dalec!

  11. 11 Dalec

    You really don’t get it.
    The proposition that the US (or any nation) should support a peoples uprising against a Fascist Dictatorship can be supported.
    I seem to remember that the US supported Mao against the Japanese invaders, for example. Progressives supported the Spanish workers against the Spanish fascists; with money, weapons and fighters.
    Your attempt to imply that my support for rebellion against tyranny is somehow support for the Imperial conquest and occupation that occurred in Iraq is very sad and pathetic.

  12. 12 Arthur

    1. Hitchens’ statement that the regime was on the verge of implosion was (typical) hyperbole. It wasn’t on the verge. The real point was that it had to implode eventually (most likely on Sadaam’s death), and the consequences would be as described.

    2. The article was published in November 2002 when the regime was on the verge of invasion. The die had been cast when Congress gave authorization the previous month. The debate had been very public since May 2002 when Cheney openly campaigned for it (with negligible support). Hitchens was (correctly) explaining a major aspect of the real debate which was, as he said, concealed in full view in the Straussian manner. The overt policy debate for the foreign policy establishment was mainly expressed in terms of the inevitable collapse of sanctions, while the line fed to the general public was pure bullshit about immediate threats from WMDs, and possible links with Al Queda.

    3. I was following the debate closely like Hitchens and had tentatively reached the same conclusions as Hitchens about June or July (but remained in doubt as to whether any such excellent policy proposals would actually defeat the overwhelming opposition from the foreign policy establishment).

    4. There was a proposal to present the planned invasion as in support of an Iraqi uprising up till about November or December when it became clear from the Iraqi Opposition conference in London that there was in fact nothing plausible about that pretence. Hitchens article was presumably in that context.

    5. The Kurds liberated Kirkuk and Mosul, while the US invaded from the south but there was no possibility of a Shia uprising since they had been massacred when the US refused support for their previous uprising following Sadaam’s defeat in Kuwait. The Shia parties (and the Iraqi Communist Party) all wanted the US to invade and prepared to cooperate, but flatly refused to risk taking any responsibility and issued formal statements that they were opposed.

    6. Although accurate, Hitchens explanation was of only one aspect of the real policy debate – the fact that a major catastrophe including a regional war would be inevitable when the regime did implode. Another aspect, not mentioned in the article, which Hitchens must also have been aware of, was always the effect of democratic change in Iraq in destabilizing the whole region. The Iraqi regime certainly picked up on it, with Vice President Aziz doing the rounds to explain to all the other autocracies that the US was planning “region change, not just regime change”. However, a public explanation of that aspect by the Bush administration would only have strengthened the foreign policy establishment’s opposition, whereas the aspect Hitchens mentioned, was less directly opposite to all previous US policy.

    7. There never was the slightest possibility of an “imperial conquest and occupation” of Iraq. Anybody who really understood who won the Vietnam war would understand that too. Pseudos pretending that was what was happening had to also offer the explanation that Bush was (literally) insane.

  13. 13 Arthur

    Keza wrote (re Dalek):

    Since you seem to operate on the basis of abstract principles alone, rather than considering material reality (ie what is possible, rather than what you would *like* to be possible), I’m not sure whether you can even grasp this.

    I’m quite sure he cannot grasp this. The essence of pseudo politics is posturing.

    In their world you show how “progressive” or even “revolutionary” you are by what “moral stands” you take. The fact that there is not the slightest possibility of a US invasion of Iran is simply irrelevant to their need to posture against it. The fact that there was a real proposal for a US invasion of Iraq and it would have a major positive impact was completely irrelevant to their need to posture against the US because of its previous directly opposite policies of supporting tyranny in the region.

  14. 14 Dalec

    Arthur, re Imperial conquest,
    If it walks like a duck quacks like a duck it most likely is a duck.
    If what happened in Iraq was not Imperial conquest and occupation, what was it? (I note that you left out the occupation bit).
    Perhaps it was the benign introduction of pure democracy? Warm cuddles from US troops and mercenaries, Abu Grhaib never happened?
    The massacre in Fallujah never happened ?
    The US troops and mercenaries have all gone home and not retreated into their bases in the country?
    How about you cool it on the abuse old chap.

  15. 15 jim sharp

    dalek; chap indeed!spot-on for an erstwhile comrade

    tribunes ever hopeful/

    When one hears windbag’s wiv two /
    blow holes from the “genuine left” /
    Grey thatched eggheads /
    off the stage actors /

    Griping on aboot their total absence /
    From “living” history they’re nowt but!/
    Blathering agents of the‘demise of’ /
    a proletarian consciousness /

    whereas on the daily knives edge of /
    production instinctive class-tribunes /
    struggle against a dominant paradigm /
    itchy for a materialist concept of history /

    tribunes ever hopeful by & by /
    proletarians’ come of age /
    we’ll prove our new days’ –baking /
    once the social continuum be upon us /

  16. 16 Dalec

    That’s a very good poem Jim,
    I am afraid it is probably a little lost on this site.
    They would say that poetry is for limp wristed pseudo leftists to declaim over their morning latte. Be thankful you don’t live in post war Azerbaijan.

  17. 17 Barry

    For what it’s worth: I write poetry for a hobby and sometimes perform it at poetry slams. I’ve even done well in competition so figure I can’t be too bad at it. I like to write poems that have a go at reactionary ideas and that promote ideas that challenge comfort zones.

    As usual, dalec is responding to voices in his own head when he says that people at this site regard poetry as for the limp-wristed, etc.

    He does this all the time, on the important issues, and still cannot (or will not?) fairly or accurately paraphrase the view of his left-wing opponents.

  18. 18 jim sharp

    jim sharp
    b.y. For what it’s worth: I write poetry for a hobby. how nleeding condescending of you! but! which blow hole did that put me down come out of? only words on a blog for the sec., but daleks counsel Azerbaijan.seem most apt.

    builder-uppers in dress rehearsal

    youse don’t like us anymore
    since we creep at a snail pace
    unwilling to hear your dogmatic
    school of lefty thoughts & actions
    as you like it! we don’t
    so you sigh like burnt out fireballs
    indisputively your stage as past away
    the mistress’s eyebrows glaringly frowns

    Indeed 21c class imperatives demand a
    spiraling of theory & practice’s yielding whichever
    relate to the real material conditions of the day
    marx engel’s & mao laid proletarian foundations
    yet again growing-up is never easy alone yet!
    we’ll build on whatever as we rehearse tomorrow
    the future tomorrow’s lives within call
    we’re builder-uppers “in dress rehearsal*”
    [*mike haywood]

  19. 19 Barry

    Sorry Jim, but this is getting too weird for me.

    PS – I like “so you sigh like burnt out fireballs” – it’s directly applicable to dalec and other pseudos.

  20. 20 jim sharp

    jim sharp
    if it’s too weird maybe one shud quote old mao
    “if one rides a horse to view the flowers …one cannot understand a problem even after a lifetime of effort”

  21. 21 Dalec

    Just to return to the topic for a moment. Barry, in his first response on this thread expresses some surprise that the policies of the Obama administration are at core little different from those of Bush. ” As Keza has pointed out, the course is now set and Obama has little choice but to continue along it.”

    Barry for over 100 years the US has been following an aggressive Exceptionalist Imperial trajectory. No matter who gets elected President he or she cannot change this. That’s the deal – no it’s not a conspiracy its just the status quo. Bush was just a more open and exposed operative.

    US notional support for “Independence” for other states goes back to 1823 and the Monroe Doctrine, this was intended to keep Europe out of the Americas. Later as the US grew more powerful it was abandoned esp during the Spanish war when the US went on an Iraq style adventure in the Phillipines – among other places. Korea and Vietnam followed on, in Vietnam the catch cry from the US was “Democracy” remember? Was it so different from the situation in Iraq?
    Thr US attempt to install democracy in Iraq came after the Invasion and occupation when the Bush administration came to realise that they were trapped there. The problem for the US is that it has devalued “Democracy” it only offers it when either it is too weak to rule in its oewn right as in the Americas in the 19th century and later in Vietnam and Iraq.
    When it gets into trouble the US calls for “Democracy”. On the other hand the US has no problem being best buddies with aome of the most opressive regimes in the wortld. Iran under the Shah (now who installed him I wonder?) Iraq under Saddam.
    Today the US supports Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan etc. All shining lights of democracy.
    Obama has no choice but to follow the Imperial path.
    No Barry it’s not about the US being a shining light of freedom on the hill, its about just another grubby Imperial power gradually succumbing to the fate of all Imperial powers. It’s about a rabid Imperialism that cloaks itself with “Democracy” as it rapes and pillages across the globe.
    The best that Obamah can do is soften the edges a bit- maybe.

  22. 22 Steve Owens

    Dalek I agree that the US will do what it wants tempered by what it can get away with. Really with Obama at the head or Crusty the clown its still the same machine.
    Where I think we disagree is that democracy is an organic demand of the people of Iraq (with the exception of the anti democrats and I dont care too much for them)
    I agree with you that the Iraqi story is a long way from finished and at times I despare at the present Iraqi governments level of corruption but this is a question for the people of Iraq.
    Before the war I thought that the Iraqi people (as far a I could gather) were against the war and I was happy to support their position about their country. I now think (again as far as I can gather) that the Iraqi people want democracy and I cant see another valid position in the absence of the Iraqi people calling for something different.

  23. 23 Dalec

    I agree Steve, Democracy is an imperative for any sufficiently developed people, the people of Iraq jumped at the chance to install a democratic regime. Also witness the events in Iran. There is a huge pent up demand for representative secular government there. Probably far more in fact than there was for Iraq.
    My point is that the US has been adroit at exploiting this demand – when it suits them – ask your Greek or Spanish guy next door about exceptions.
    The US in not on a mission to bring democracy to the globe. It is on a mission to rule the globe.
    The US is adroit at using “democracy” to cloak its imperialism, has been for 200 years, some people are not bright enough to see this.

  24. 24 keza

    Once upon a time, before he felt compelled to call himself Dalec, he was young and rebellious. He thought about the world around him, and concluded that a major problem was something called “US Imperialism”. There was pretty good evidence for this because the USA was engaged in a war of aggression against a small country called Vietnam. It had refused to allow elections to be held, appointed a series of ruthless puppet governments and invaded the place. The world situation was a lot more complicated than that of course, but what was happening in Vietnam illustrated various things about the nature of capitalism, leading the future dalek (FD) to dip into a bit of Marx, and Mao. He began thinking about capitalism,socialism and class struggle, and took part in some important struggles against reactionaries. The biggest one was against the US imperialist invasion of Vietnam.

    And the US was defeated in Vietnam. Indeed it was very thoroughly crushed by the people’s war there, and at the same time undermined world-wide by a mighty wave of fighting opposition from young people like our own FD. It was a decisive victory by the people of the world and has meant that the US has never since been prepared to risk invading another country in order to impose its own puppet.

    But in the years following this victory, something terrible happened. FD’s brain began to seize up. He became more and more stuck. As time wore on he became increasingly unable to think any new thoughts ….and worse he began to think that his old thoughts were still new and fresh.

    Whenever anything happened in the world, all he could do was spit out the words “US !imperialism!, or sometimes “US !mperialism is the number one enemy”(when he got on a roll). Later he began to also snarl out “Empire” or “oil!!!!“. He had a few other phrases as well, but all of them came from the same groove in his brain .. a groove which became etched deeper and deeper as the years passed by.

    That wasn’t obvious at first because for quite some time, US Imperialism continued down the same track and in a pretty similar way, oppressing people, using stealthy methods to control governments in various places, and so on. However it had been so thoroughly defeated in Vietnam, that it didn’t try any more outright invasions. So no-one noticed at first that FD’s brain had seized up. He was saying what seemed to be the right things, perhaps in a somewhat staccato way, but they still made some sense.

    But the world changed, and as it did, FD morphed into a fully fledged Dalek.

    US imperialism, already severely weakened by having been defeated in Vietnam, began to reap what it had sown in the rest of the world. It could no longer do just what it liked. For FD, this didn’t really compute. The US had to remain a mighty super-power, forever expanding the Empire because that is how things were meant to be.

    But the new reality was that across the planet people had stood up and wouldn’t take it any more. The US was in a difficult spot.

    At the same time, there was a new problem brewing. Large swathes of the world which had been held back by its policies (and by those of its rival, the USSR) were living under various dictatorships and very nasty autocracies. This provided exactly the sort of swampy conditions which favour the spread of reactionary ideologies of the very darkest type. Movements sprang up which encouraged young men to hate the USA for all the wrong reasons. Once these had taken root, they waged a campaign of oppression and terror against the people in their own countries and began to also engage in attacks on “the West”. Eventually one of these groups launched an attack on the USA itself, killing thousands of innocent Americans, and many overseas visitors as well.

    The US imperialists were now in a really sticky spot. They knew that their old policy had not only failed, but had come back to bite them. So they began to change tack and institute a policy of actively promoting democracy, especially in the Middle East. However there were many, many zombified dalek-types within their own foreign policy establishment, so this was quite difficult to do.

    Previously they’d been on the side of stability and stagnation in that region, propping up the various dictatorships and autocratic regimes which had done a very good job of wiping out communists, left wingers and progressives in general. At times they had backed one reactionary regime against another, but their policy had always been one which was directly opposed to any movement for democratic revolution in that region. Their own daleks had a great deal of difficulty in seeing that history had moved on.

    By the turn of the century however, the non-daleks among the US imperialists knew that their old policy was no longer working and began pushing for a shift. After the USA itself was attacked, they were able to marginalise their own daleks, at least long enough to get the ball rolling. As a consequence the US overthrew one of the worst dictatorships in the MIddle East and occupied that country so that the people there could elect their first democratic government. When counter-revolutionary anti-democrats and the old ruling class, tried to take advantage of sectarian divisions and whip up a civil war, the US army took the side of the democrats.

    Unlike in Vietnam there was no people’s war against this US occupation because it was a quite different type of occupation.

    For dalec (as he had now begun to feel absolutely compelled to call himself), none of this computed. His frozen brain just couldn’t understand what was going on. All he could do was to continue to make staccato utterances about US imperialism. When questioned by others, he would just gesticulate, while his brain clicked and whirred. Then he would begin to froth out that it was just obvious that the world was as it had always been and “US-Imperialism (E_M_P_I_R_E) is the main (E_M_P_I_R_E) enemy E_M_P_I_R_E) oil SAUDIS, OIL E_M_P_I_R_E) imperial CON-QUEST“.. but of course he had a frozen brain, so I guess he couldn’t think anything else.

    Others could see that things had changed and that the US now had a real interest in destabilising those stagnating parts of the world and promoting democracy as an antidote to the murderous, reactionary creatures which such conditions had produced. But our poor old frozen Dalec just couldn’t see that this would be a wonderful, liberating thing for the people of those parts. His locked down brain hadn’t even retained its earlier belief that the whole point of being a leftwinger was to make the world a better place ….or if he did have some distant memory of all this, he had certainly forgotten that bourgeois democracy is incomparably better than fascism and autocracy.

    He just kept repeating “US Imperialism is the main enemy E_M_P_I_R_E …oil)” sometimes adding a bit more from one of the frozen recesses in his brain such as “democracy is a bourgeois fraud .. E_M_P_I_R_E ..!oily cloak of Empire “. At times his brain lock became so bad that he lapsed into gibberish … “these-people-aren’t-ready-for-democracy-I-know-I’ve been-there-in-my-dalec-ship“. He became more and more convinced of his own grandeur and began to claim personal expertise and knowledge of almost everything. This of course is a well known symptom of a locked up brain… the world doesn’t make sense so you have to remake it to fit, even if that involves a great deal of confabulation.

    re Imperial conquest,
    If it walks like a duck quacks like a duck it most likely is a duck.
    If what happened in Iraq was not Imperial conquest and occupation, what was it?

    Dalek can be mugged by reality a million times and just pop up, apparently unfazed, continuing to repeat the same old stuff. That’s the wonder of being brain dead.

  25. 25 Arthur

    i see u are feeling much better keza 😉

  26. 26 Steve Owens

    I agree with Keza, since Vietnam the US has invaded no one.
    Except maybe Grenada.
    The US has invaded no one except Grenada.
    And Panama.
    OK the US has invaded no one but Grenada and Panama.
    OH and Hati
    OK the US has invaded no one except Grenada, Panama and Hati.
    YES Yes I know they invaded Afghanistan.
    OK the US since Vietnam have invaded no one except Grenada, Panama,Hati,Afghanistan, Yes a partial invasion of Somalia yes and they bombed Lybia, Lebanon, Sudan, Serbia,Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Oh I see Keza has added a rider that the US since Vietnam has invaded no one so as to install their puppet. Maybe since the end of the cold war we are no longer in need of puppetry. Maybe the end of the cold war is the significant date rather than Sept 11

  27. 27 Arthur

    Steve, the full quote was:

    That wasn’t obvious at first because for quite some time, US Imperialism continued down the same track and in a pretty similar way, oppressing people, using stealthy methods to control governments in various places, and so on. However it had been so thoroughly defeated in Vietnam, that it didn’t try any more outright invasions.

    I noticed too that the wording wasn’t quite accurate. Specifically the pathetic invasion of tiny Grenada was hailed by US imperialist die hards as an “end to the Vietnam syndrome” ie proof that they were still a mighty superpower that could do what they liked – proving in fact that they were a minor regional bully still stuck with the “Vietnam syndrome” of not being able to risk anything like the Vietnam war again.

    The others you mention are all well within the context of a declining superpower no longer able to act like it did in Vietnam.

    A lot of what happened was in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Empire before 9/11. eg US policy favoured a shift from the “gorilla” military dictatorships to parliamentary rule in most of Latin America and their involvement in Haiti and Panama was in that direction.

    The US cowardly withdrawal from the United Nations Special Operation in Somalia left Somalia at the mercy of warlords and greatly encouraged Al Queda.

    Bombing Serbia was at least better than the European failure to protect the people in the Balkans from barbarous conflicts including the disgraceful failure of Dutch peacekeepers to protect Bosnians from Serb massacres, though it would have been better if they had sent troops to protect Kosovars.

    But the decisive shift of policy towards seriously supporting democratic change in the Middle East came only with 9/11.

    I don’t recall much mobilization from the pseudos against the various incidents you mention. Perhaps that is because there was no significant mainstream right-wing opposition that could draw attention to them also opposing, but with “left” sounding verbiage.

    Are you saying you stood proudly against removing Noriega from Panama, letting Milsoevic et all have their way in the Balkans etc etc?

    Is it really the case that we only noticed your heroic stand to keep the Taliban in power in Afghanistan and the Baathists in Iraq because it was so absurd, but you have been there on the side of ALL the various vicious tyrants that the US has reluctantly joined with UN forces to suppress over the years since Vietnam?

  28. 28 Steve Owens

    I was in Italy at the time of Grenada and attended a large demo in Florence. I also participated in demos against intervention in the Balkans. The atrocities in Kosovo were in response to US intervention rather than as the cause of US intervention. If I remember correctly I saw the Panama affair as a falling out between gangsters and did not support US actions.
    So Arthur did you support the invasions? If so what about the bombing of Lybia, Sudan and Lebanon. Surely if US bomers can bring democracy to Serbia US bombs must be good for Lebanon. And Somalia really was the problem to have not killed enough people?
    Keza previously you have supplied us with a definition of an ad hominem argument are you now demonstrating by example?
    Arthur have you ever estimated how many people would be killed in the invasion of Iraq and if so could you tell us your pre invasion estimate.

  29. 29 Barry

    Awesome post, Keza. More power to your pen!

  30. 30 Steve Owens

    Thanks for refreshing my mind about Panama, yes following the invasion were weeks of unanticipated looting (sound familiar) thousands of civilian dead 20,000 people made homeless, is it any wonder that the UN General Assembly condemded the invasion, is it any wonder that the man who replaced Noriaga went on hunger strike to protest the lack of US post invasion help.
    Yes I took a stand against this, only a person with great skill in manipulating the truth could suggest I was somehow against removing dictators rather than exercising concern for the thousands of dead and homeless that were to pay the price.
    Again I ask you Arthur how many dead were acceptable in the liberation of Iraq what was your estimate before the invasion surely you made an estimate.

  31. 31 John Greenfield

    It is high time that folks woke up to the fact that Obama has neither the power, authority, or inclination to create another “Palestinian” state.

    These are decsions for Jordan, Isreal, Egypt, and Syria.

    It is none of the Yanks’ bloody business.

  32. 32 Arthur

    John, only the Palestinians can create a Palestinian State – not the USA, nor Israel, Jordan, Syria or Egypt.

    Nevertheless Israeli occupation is the primary obstacle to the Palestinians establishing their own State. Jordan remain as secondary obstacles guarding Israel’s back, but basically accepted the authority of the PLO as sole representative of the Palestinian people some time ago. The Syrian regime once had a major disruptive influence among Palestinians and remain hypocritical allies but they have essentially been sidelined.

    The US remains the main support enabling Israel to continue holding out for “concessions” long after it has become obvious to all (including a majority of Israelis) that the war for “Greater Israel” launched in 1976 has in fact been lost and they will have to fully withdraw from the West Bank as well as Gaza and stop preventing the establishment of a Palestinian State.

    The critical role of the US in enabling Israel to hold out against the world is what makes it important for the US to withdraw that support and insist on allowing the Palestinians to get on with it.

    Your statement would be more accurate if it said: “Obama has neither the power, inclination or authority to continue propping up the Israeli occupation regime.

    PS I may respond to Steve later. No time now and not much inclination as unlike the Palestinian situation the others are matters of historical rather than current affairs interest.

  33. 33 Arthur

    ps that was meant to be “Jordan and Egypt remain as secondary obstacles…”

    also obviously 1976 was a typo for 1967

  34. 34 John Greenfield

    We need MORE imperialism not less. The biggest disaster post-WW2 is all these sub-social/civilised groups have actually been made independendent nation states, when they can’t even tie their own shoelaces. East Timor? Puhleez!

    How many members of the UNGA are there now? About 345,563?

    We would be better off with 45.

  35. 35 Arthur

    There were “about 45” independent nations and empires in the heyday of colonialism and only 58 at the peak of the League of Nations. “We” weren’t better off and that system produced two world wars compared with the relatively peaceful period since.

    Its so typical of the right to pine for the “good old days”.

  36. 36 Dalec

    Well Keza that would have to be the best ad hominem rave I have ever read. It was incoherent and self contradictory, but totally brilliant.
    I guess that you have entirely forfeited your claim to the moral high ground of reasoned and civil debate – well done.

    The US is following the path that is trod by all decaying Imperiums. It uses its unprecedented military might and its various hegemonies to force the rest of the world to support it.

    You imply that somehow the US has a higher purpose. (Is this what they mean by manifest destiny?) There is no moral or ethical content in US foreign policy, never has been never will be and never can be. The appeal to manifest destiny that was there from the very beginning is total metaphysical bullshit. It has been used to justify the most appalling atrocities and banal self interest.
    Appeals for democracy for conquered states by US imperialism are nothing new, they wax and wane as tactics dictate.
    The Bush regime has been a total disaster for the US, US Imperialism has been isolated as never before. It has lost all remnants of moral authority. While you were cheering on the slaughter of innocent civilians in Iraq the rest of the world looked on in horror and wondered if the US army storm troopers would be smashing in their doors, raping their women and taking their sons off to be abused in the local equivalent to Abu Ghraib. An Administration that will use white phosphorus on the civilian population of Falluja is no better than the Saddam regime.
    These are the lessons that the world draws from Iraq. Not the establishment of a totally corrupt democracy there.
    I doubt if this reality can be easily pasted over by the charisma of Obamah.

    Self evidently the world is not buying this crock. But why would it?
    It is entirely populated by pseudos – not real people at all.

    Perhaps that is why people are not flocking to your standard?

  37. 37 John Greenfield

    Arthur given that the Palestinians do not have sovereignty over ANY land, I think you might be getting a bit excited by putting them in the driver seat before those UN member legitimate nation-states that are actual sovereigns – Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.

  38. 38 Arthur

    John, given that the Israelis occupy the whole West Bank they are clearly in the driver’s seat. Given that they cannot maintain that occupation without US support that puts the US in the driver’s seat too. Syria, Jordan and Egypt are largely irrelevant.

    The Palestinians will be in the driver’s seat in setting up their state when the Israelis have driven away.

    I still expect that process to begin in the relatively near future (though I have had that expectation for far too long now).

    PS It is surprising that both Steve and Dalek still do not understand the meaning of the term ad hominem attack. Keza’s excellent analysis of Dalek was not an attempt to refute his arguments by demonstrating that his brain has stopped functioning, which would be an ad hominem attack. It was a direct personal attack on Dalek demonstrating that his brain has stopped functioning by reference to his arguments, which are so devoid of content as to not need refuting.

  39. 39 Steve Owens

    Arthur you accuse me of standing beside various vicious dictators that the US has reluctantly joined with the UN to suppress.
    Given that the UN General Assembly condemed both the Panama and Grenada invasions Im unsure what your talking about. Milosovick was opposed by NATO.
    The US didnt reluctantly join with the UN against Saddam or Mullah Omar so who do you mean?
    Either there are various vicious dictators that Im unaware of or you are making stuff up.
    Since Vietnam America supported Pol Pot, Pinoche, Samosa, Saddam, The Sha, Sharon, Mullah Omar (they gave him $40 mill just prior to 9/11)just who are the dictators that they reluctantly suppressed?
    Please tell me that your not just making stuff up.

  40. 40 jim sharp

    my reply to your bio of dalek did he desert you at the alter?or perhaps he excommunicated from the red eureka sect?

    Vintage’s ‘68

    The classes were full of dope hope
    & capitals’ vintager’s ‘aven’t afore
    lost a vintage thru hyperbole
    they watch over laying down
    their purest red in high status
    french oak casks
    opportunists labeling ‘em
    rrrr-red ‘68 revolutionaries

    alas! the dominant class chemistry
    spoils the brew by virtue
    of seemingly puerile Marxian views
    & yet! once those 20thc …celestial-pilots
    uncork their ’68 trove they found nowt but!
    sour vinegar savoring their Mickey Mouse
    mechanical taste buds
    such & such high voltage fuel
    wiling “new agey” ‘sophisticate’s! ‘

  41. 41 Barry

    How they beat their chests
    those prolies so owd
    yet it makes no difference
    in this world –
    just an empty beat
    devoid of soul.

    Unable to argue
    they merely assert
    or posit a formula
    instead of doing some work.

  42. 42 jim sharp

    my stroke addled grey matter won’t allow me to recall whether it was engles or lenin who said to me how important our class instincts & sensuall feeling were & to dismiss us owd prolies as nowt but! chest beating souless owd gits! reads to me as if your a reactionary boozh-wah agist & thats being kind too
    especially coming from “celestial boffin” wiv no obvious runs on the board to speak of. yet you try some power over tactics ta shut me-up
    i feel, it’ll be a sure done thing by the time you’re wearing shitty nappy daks prolies will be resolving contradictions & not be engaged in celestial arguments, but caring for each-other comradely

    “struggling for democracy?”

    owd & crook of no further use to the gaffers
    we may still pick food scraps from street tidy bins
    we’re so poor that only st vinnies gives credit
    and their holy hand-me-downs shoes
    gives one devilish cold feet.
    our premature wrinkles & veins
    be a palmist’s dream read.
    nothin’ left of our life’s labourin’
    we spend half our days bemused
    after all! ….. ‘tis sed
    we live in a “democracy?”

  43. 43 Barry

    Far from trying to shut you up, my point was that you don’t argue a case but merely make assertions through poetry. You’ll find that most people at this site really do want to debate.

  44. 44 jim sharp

    you shud learn to acquire far better comradely persausive skills perhaps you shud read & learn from owd mao’s on the correct handling of contradictions amongst the people.

    a gude teacher always learns from their students & workers

    anyway it seeems that this poem by a great poet & paractising revolutriomary mao cud be seem by his detractors as an asertion thru poetry?


    Winter clouds snow-laden, cotton fluff flying,
    None or few the unfallen flowers.
    Chill waves sweep through steep skies,
    Yet earth’s gentle breath grows warm.
    Only heroes can quell tigers and leopards
    And wild bears never daunt the brave.
    Plum blossoms welcome the whirling snow;
    Small wonder flies freeze and perish.

    another of my assertion

    Reply ro b.y.
    i’ve heard it said
    when the owd get the shits
    they posit their turds an’ flush
    the rest being history

  45. 45 Barry

    Well, I wouldn’t know what kind of contradiction it is but I do know that this thread is meant to be about Obama’s speech and US strategy in the middle east.

  46. 46 jim sharp

    ’tis true that keza started this thread aboot obama’s speech,but then things rarely turn out the way you plan ’em do they.
    i’d always thought that that was an abc truism of the mazterialist concept of history.
    then along came you & arthur as cheer leader
    when kaza had absolutely no need of either of youse to back her line of thought.
    then low & behold you throw in your femmme fatales pearles of wisdom ‘Thirst for freedom takes root in dust’ “when all & sunry know wiv out say ‘ts ashes to ashes i.e. infinite atoms & new live in waiting”
    and then keza put dalek on her psychologists couch & bugger me if she don’t betray all patient psychologitst privacy.
    it wud seeems to me, all use want on this site is for a lead monolog so his/her accolades can pat them on their shoulders
    shit! their must be some awfully large calloused tra·pe·zi·us amongst you lot it must be your recognition sign of the cross

  47. 47 Dalec

    Thanks Jim,
    It is a sad thing indeed to see once fierce opponents of US Imperialism capitulate.
    Do they really believe that the US has lost its Imperial spots and changed into some benign force for good, bent on bringing democratic change to the world?
    Can they not see that the Imperial imperative remains for so long as they are the dominant world power?

    That for them it’s all a question of the tactics required to maintain dominance over the globe. They know and we know that the moment they lose this domination is the moment they come apart. This has been the history of all Empires. The US will not be an exception to this.

  48. 48 Steve Owens

    Dalek I think that the US has changed. Where I differ from the other contributors is that I date that change at the end of the cold war. Before 1989 the US was prepared to back any anti soviet regimen no matter how odious. To think that they would support Pol Pot is the best example I can think of.
    Once however they became the only superpower the imperatives changed and what do we see, dictatorships all over the world fall due to the US failure to garantee the dictators survival hence we witnessed changes of government in Indonesia,South Africa, all through Central and South America. These were monumental changes that call for an explanation.
    This doesnt mean that I think America has essentually changed but it is now operating in a changed world. Any Imperial power tends to replicate it’s system in the area it influences. I think that its “natural” for the Americans to promote democracy unless theres an over riding reason not to.

  49. 49 jim sharp

    dalek i’m as bemused as you!so in the meantime here’s an assertion in verse

    eerie … celestial boffin’s
    allus blame adverse
    prolies & students
    as being pseudo’s

    whencesoever will
    the penny drop?
    coz behold!
    ‘it’s a boozh-wah world

  50. 50 Barry

    This is like something out of a Doctor Who episode – a dalek uniting with a friggin’ pirate!

  51. 51 jim sharp

    sorry b.y! there’s nowt for second prizes today

  52. 52 Dalec

    Steve, what exactly was the US invovement in the overthrow of the South African Regime? Did I miss something? I really thought the South africans did it themselves. The US talked the talk but basically did nothing to help. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1989/GAL.htm

    I must have missed the invasion and occupation that overthrew Pinochet.

    Injdonesia is a home grown really corrupt democratic Feudal amalgam I don’t recall a US invasion there either.
    My main pouint being that people of any given country – onvc=ce they reach a certain stage of economic development find the democratic form of government agreeable. They don’t need US troopers and mercenaries on a killing rampage to bring it into being.

  53. 53 Steve Owens

    My point is just as the East European dictators fell when Gorbachov refused to garantee them so it was in the West. Once it was clear that the US wasnt going to save dictators many saw the writting on the wall and opened up talks for transition governments. You are right they did nothing to help which was exactly what they had to do for many marginal dictatorships to fold. Every country in South America went from dictatorship to democracy, do you think this just happened?
    I also think you are right in that if China becomes a rival superpower America will resort to supporting any type of regimen that opposes China. As I said if the world changes the US will adapt for good or ill.

  54. 54 Steve Owens

    Dalek if you look up the Anti Apartheid Act of 1985 and the legislation of 1986 you will see laws that prohibit trade with South Africa and mandate complete dis investment after 180 days. To the bastards that ran South Africa this was no joke.

  55. 55 Steve Owens

    This is how I think it works. For years the US supports SA because they need an attack dog in southern africa to stop the Soviets gaining influence. This is a stable relationship until the soviets loose interest in africa and the US starts to distance itself from this settler state that had been so useful. If your the leader of a country that trades with the world having the US turn its back on you is is well ask Fidel.

  56. 56 jim sharp

    the real life eyed friggin’ pirate! is back! wiv his desire for a materialist-terrestrial conception change’ sorry abooot that.

    desire for change

    Crystal celestial clarity

    “can be ‘ones’ ideological

    Crime” you know!

    particularly when dogmatists

    fight mind- games

    with our desire for change

  57. 57 Dalec

    Steve, I really think the the adoption of democracy is a matter of the internal development of the country. Internal economic and cultuiral developemnt reaches a certain stage where the old mostly feudal relations impede progress, the external conditions will have the effect of impeding or assisting this process but they will not effect its nature. At this point you tend to get internal regime change brought on by the struggle of the people themselves. This happened throughout the Americas and in many countries across the world. It did not happen because the US invaded them.
    Inless the internal conditions are supportive, any imposition of democracy from the outside is bound to fail or at the very least take a very long time to settle down. Witness Indnesia where a notional democratic state fits over a really backward and feudal system that to this day weilds immense power. The feudal fascist regime of Suharto was established with US backing and was overthrown by the people themselves – against the wishes of the US.
    Iran is a classic case, here a corrupt feudal priest caste rules over a rapidly modernising population. These people desperatly need a modern bourgois democracy. Does any-one really seriously suggest that an invasion and occupation by the US or say its puppet Iraq would assist this process? The Iran war with US backed Iraq (remember that) was a major set back for democracy in both countries.
    Did the subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq establish a modern thriving bourgois stste there? Not exactly. So far the US invasion and occupation has obscured the internal contradictions, it has installed yet another totally corrupt regime in the ME as well as kleptocratic mercenary force and an occupying army that has retreated into cantonements. Worst of all the unerlying contradictions in Iraq are unresolved and the very presence of the US there has guaranteed Jihadist madness for years to come. Well done oh superpower sycophants.

  58. 58 Steve Owens

    Dalek Im not arguing for the invasion of anywhere.
    However I do think that its possible to invade a country and then have that country develop a democracy, Japan being the case in point.
    I dont think that the US invaded Japan to promote democracy any more than I think they invaded Iraq to promote democracy however Im not blind to the opportunity in both Japan and Iraq.(plus its a demand of the Iraqi people)
    In the wider world prior to the cold wars end the US was activly holding back democratic forces in many countries, after the cold war they at least changed to neutral in many countries. Just look at South Africa could you really imagine the US allowing a Communist Party supported ANC to govern South Africa during the height of the cold war. Well obviously no, so something must have changed. South Africa didnt come to a new level of economic or social development, quite the reverse the sanctions from the US threw them into an economic crisis.
    I agree with you that the internal contradictions in Iraqi society make the outcome very much from clear and if you have been reading my stuff here you will know that I have unsuccessfully trying to encourage debate about the nature of Iraqi political parties their undemocratic ideas and practices for instance.(God they have a parliament that passed the death penalty for homosexuality)

  59. 59 Dalec

    Steve, I understand that you are not arguing for invasions.
    I don’t think the examples of Japan and Germany are arguments for the Invade Occupy and Democratise thesis. They were invaded and occupied as part of a global war against fascism the democratisation was a inevitable outcome as the fascist forces were vanquished in the particular circumstances of those two countries (took a bit longer in East Germany. There was no way the old Fascist regimes could rule there again. In both countries the internal contradictions and the internal aspirations were good for the institution of democratic rule.
    The US was very happy to have the minor fascists stay in place after the war; Spain and Greece come to mind, so it was never a matter of principle.

    In my view the US has demonstrated a great ability to use lip service to democracy as a tool for domination. Whatever it takes.

  60. 60 keza


    Your brain just continues to whir, click and then spit out bits and pieces of correct-line phrases absorbed many years ago.

    eg “the adoption of democracy is a matter of the internal development of the country. Internal economic and cultuiral developemnt reaches a certain stage where the old mostly feudal relations impede progress, the external conditions will have the effect of impeding or assisting this process but they will not effect its nature. At this point you tend to get internal regime change brought on by the struggle of the people themselves. This happened throughout the Americas and in many countries across the world. It did not happen because the US invaded them.”

    Well, obviously the bourgeois revolution in “the Americas and in many other countries across the world” didn’t happen “because the US invaded them” ….. I’ll leave that silly phrasing to one side (although I do think that it demonstrates the deep etching of the “US imperialism” circuit in your brain.)

    The English revolution did in fact involve an invasion at one point(1688 … William and Mary). If you study that revolution you’ll see that it was never a graceful process in which “economic and cultural development” had “reached a certain stage” and “internal regime change” was smoothly brought about “by the people themselves”. The level of ‘economic and cultural development’ differed wildly across the entire region (England, Scotland, Ireland). Sectarian divisions among the people were rife. It was all pretty crazy, in fact.

    The Scottish tribes were entirely uncivilized – there’s no other way of putting it. They were dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era – it was brutal on both sides – but we know who won. (And of course the massacre of Glencoe lives on till this day) Nothing pretty or simple about this “internal regime change”, and some of it makes Iraq look like a dinner party. And that’s just one example.

    The democratic revolution (as with all other revolutions) occurs when it becomes possible which is not at all the same thing as saying “when economic and cultural conditions have reached a certain level”. Although economic development obviously matters and at a certain point begins to create cultural conditions which favour revolutionary change, there are no mechanical relationships here. In fact, it’s the revolutionary process itself which tends to create the necessary cultural/social attitudes, rather than the other way around.

    I know you feel absolutely compelled to keep up these empty rants about the US Imperial Order on which the sun never sets, along with the idée fixe that what’s happened in Iraq is nothing more than an old style invasion and occupation by the US. As far as I can see, evidence to the contrary just makes you whir and click even more.

    ’tis a pity … dalecs are extremely tedious.

  61. 61 jim sharp

    keza said:
    ’tis a pity … dalecs are extremely tedious.
    O! keza,kaza!… that’s brilliant piece boozh-wah behavioral phychology; me feels

    the ? i’d ask you & the other “genuine materialist boffins’ on this site. why not use your given celestial & terrestrial skills to try & understand the processes of resolving the ideological contradiction as to why the daleks & his one eyed prolie pirate mate, can be apart along with all other pseudos in organising & mobilizing millions to bridge- march for black oz & street-march against the u.s. invasion.
    stop playing silly buggers, coz “tis your class duty to try & understand the cultural & the material conditions which daleks one & all seeemingly towards being, “as youse say” pseudo materialists.

    Its an absolute imperative for “the imperiums suction tube” to constantly keep om sucking from its periphery, by & by all its
    deceitful & adroit means that’s necessary

  62. 62 Arthur

    Yes, we do need a better understanding of why more people are influenced by pseudo-left ideas than by ours.

    It might help us understand if jim or dalek were actually willing to engage in substantive argument rather than emote.

  63. 63 Dalec

    Hey Keza try this for some whirring and clicking.
    Actually read it for a change.

    If that is not a militaristic imperial program what is it? Oh and here;
    Spending over 3.7% of its gross domestic production to its military or USD 478.2 billion in 2005, the US has the highest military expenditures in the world. This constitutes half of the USD 1 trillion spent on military worldwide and more than double the budget of the EU combined (USD 217 B) and nearly 5 times larger than the budget of the next country in the list (China USD 80B (est 2005). [1]
    Currently 385,941 troops or 27% of all US military personnel are deployed outside its territory. The US maintains military presence in more than 155 countries and territories (30 of which have a hundred or more US servicemen and 14 with more than a thousand). [2] Under the new Unified Command Plan (UCP) instituted in 2002, the US has five geographical commands to cover and direct the US military forces overseas: the EUCOM for Europe, CENTCOM for the Middle East, PACOM for Asia-Pacific, SOUTHCOM for Latin America and NORTHCOM for North America. The STRATCOM or the US Strategic Command covers space and early missile warning systems [3]. The various commands supervise and is responsible for military relationships with countries in their respective regions in areas of security cooperation and military coordination.
    The US maintains the most extensive foreign basing structure in the world. The US Department of Defense itself acknowledges the extent of their bases assets in 2005 (buildings, structures and utilities): more than half a million facilities (571,900) on more than 3,740 sites occupying nearly 30 million acres (over 12 million hectares). Overseas (in territories and foreign soil), there are 117,951 facilities occupying 318,819 hectares. These are in 769 sites in 39 foreign locations and 7 US territories [4] not including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Hence the deep etching of the “US imperialism” meme in the brain.

    Obama is stuck with all this and has no option but to go along with it. You don’t have to that’s the difference.

    Oh and here http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

    It certainly walks like a duck, quacks like a ducK eh?

  64. 64 jim sharp

    never heard the word emote before. my merriam dic.sez: to give expression to emotion & as said before in what i’d wrongly presumed to be a dialog. i can’t recall which of my mentors said whether it was engles or lenin who said to me how important was to take A/C of prolies class instincts & their sensual feeling
    arthur i’m of the w/class & ‘ave struggled for a lifetime in every possible way i know how against the social power over i.e. P.A.D. presently enjoyed by capital against billions wage slaves.sure i’m guilty of ‘aving class passions or a boffin wud gig for not ‘aving swallowed the dic.word emote. at least you did give me some brownie points over bettter under standing

  65. 65 Dalec

    Jim,don’t be too hard on Arthur and co, they have never recovered from the whipping we gave them when they lost control of 3CR a million years ago. Hence the bitterness that you detect.

  66. 66 jim sharp

    thanks; i hear what you say! i.e. cut the sarky-sharpy-stuff!
    maybe this stuff by avigail over at http://www.avigailabarbanel.me.uk/grief.html
    wud help heal the schism

    Diagnosing and Dealing with Grief in the Aftermath of a Change
    More>> http://www.avigailabarbanel.me.uk/grief.html

  67. 67 Steve Owens

    Christopher Hitchens has a peice in todays Australian online arguing that the current pro democracy movement in Iran is being influenced by the holding of democratic elections in Iraq.

  68. 68 Barry

    Hitchens’ article text: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25769695-7583,00.html

    Sampler: “Contrary to the simplistic distinction between the “liberal urban” and the “conservative rural” that is made by so many glib commentators, Iran is a country where very rapid urbanisation of a formerly rural population is being undergone, and all good Marxists ought to know that historically this has always been a moment pregnant with revolutionary discontent. In Saddam’s Iraq, the possession of a satellite dish was punishable by death; everybody knows that the mullahs in Iran cannot enforce their own ban on informal media and unofficial transmission. And yet, precisely because they are so dense and fanatical, they doom themselves to keep trying”.

  69. 69 Dalec

    Stev, Barry,
    I thought Hitchens refernce to Iraq and democracy was so hedged about that it hardly desrved your desperate spin.
    Barry- of course – omitted the qualifier in his quote “There are, no doubt, other determining factors.”

  70. 70 Barry

    dalec, how could you see it any other way? Your course would have left the Iraqis under fascism. Now we are seeing not only a developing democracy in Iraq, something qualitatively better than the old regime, but also its influence on a democratic movement in a neighbouring state with which the old regime went to war, at the cost of a million lives.

    From a left-wing point of view, it’s win-win. And it confirms the analysis at this site.

    But you will no doubt just continue to whirr on, dalec. Whirr on, whirr on, while the Iraqis continue to build a better future and the Iranians are about to be in a better position to do so.

    By the way, I’d like to reiterate my view that it’s best to avoid getting too bogged down with the likes of dalec. For much of this year, I’ve been sending in comments to a range of blogs, sometimes using my own name, sometimes using a pseudonym. It really is possible to challenge the assumption that Andrew Bolt, Robert Manne and John Pilger’s understanding of what it means to be on the left is an accurate one.

    It’s fun confusing and challenging people who find it hard to think outside the box but I feel I have made some (very) small progress in proving the point.

  71. 71 Arthur

    Hitchens hedging struck me as reasonable – ie he concluded that recent events were a harbinger of the beginning of the end, ie not yet even the beginning of the end but merely a sign of that beginning being now on the agenda.

    BTW, like other reports he mentions the importance of the stand taken by an association of clerics in Qom without mentioning that the particular group is a reformist association not speaking for the majority there. What’s significant of course is that they (and other more important regime figures like Khatami and Rafsanjani) have come out in open opposition of a type that is clearly intended to bring the regime down whereas their previous stance helped consolidate it by holding out hopes of reform. This split among the clerics is enormously significant, leaving the regime little more credibility than any other military dictatorship.

    Obviously the enormous pilgrimage traffic between Iran and Najaf, the world center of Shism led by Ayataollah Sistani must have had enormous influence on this split in the regime, ignored by most of the media solely due to their blind spot about Iraq.

    Also BTW its interesting that Obama’s speech about the kleptocratic tyrannies of Africa was much sharper than the Cairo speech. No doubt there will be lots of reminders from the pseudos about the well known record of colonialism in Africa with the same sort of smugness as quoting the well known fact that the US remains, despite its decline, the only military superpower and hopefully the last one.

  72. 72 Steve Owens

    Dalek I think that Hitchens has raised an important point about Shia politics. The rulers in Iran have a view that sovereignty comes from god and is mediated by the priesthood. Parties close to Iran like Iraq’s SCIRI had this view where as the Dawa party argued that sovereignty came from god but is expressed through the mandate of the people. One view is theocratic the other democratic. I was deeply pessimistic about the possibility of democracy winning as the Dawa were smaller and unarmed whereas the SCIRI was larger and ran a sizable and very ugly militia. The provincial elections were a triumph for Dawa and a set back for SCIRI. I cant see why any democrat would not be pleased by this.
    One view is that elections are window dressing the other side argues that elections are central.
    There must be some truth in what Hitchens says how could freedom of expression not have some effect when freedom of movement also exists?

  73. 73 Dalec

    Yes he has, the internal situation for democracy in Iran has been improved a lot by recent events inside Iran. I just find it pathetic when the Imperial Sycophants rush to ascribe it all to the example set by Iraq.
    They are two different countries that share certain religious beliefs and sects – so what? European countries fought and battled for years both because of and in spite of sectarian differences. Hitchens BTW, is too smart to openly propagate “the shining beacon of democracy in Iraq” meme.
    What is required in both Iran and Iraq is a massive conversion to secular views.

    The Iranians I know tell me that this is happening in Iran. They are amazed by the rapidity of change. The same people also tell me that the cause of Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq and Iran has been furthered by the US Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. (One of these people is just back from participating in the insurrection so I am getting this information first hand.

    So far there is no high profile secular leadership group in Iran,or even a progressive one. Mind you, I would be keeping my head down too.

    Note that Obama came under immense fire from the Conservative Right in the US for not claiming the insurrection in Iran as US inspired.
    He is too smart for that, he does not want to provide grist to the “great Satan” mill that the clerics wind so well.

  74. 74 jim sharp


    the pirate is back!
    i feel ’tis rather a tad strange that one never sees S/T’s give any cover to a bunch of Maoist active revolutionary women but then one cud ‘ave misssed reading about this truly democratic movement on the strange people site. one suspects they feel a tad guilty coz they’re doing nowt in the land of Oz but perform celestial gymnastic around there empty heads’ while their sisters are down dirty where real revolutionary action is ‘appening, but then one aspect of RAWA’s life & death struggle is against the imperium

    The Killing of Women Is Like Killing a Bird Today in Afghanistan’
    Stephen de Tarczynski interviews Afghan women’s rights activist MALALAI JOYA
    IPS: Are there many other individual women and groups who fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan?

    MJ: Let me tell you about RAWA [Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan]. This is a woman’s political organisation whose leader Meena – in my opinion she is a hero of my country, my people love her a lot – was killed by the fundamentalists. Still they have projects and underground activists too. The same problems [exist] as under the Taliban.

    But only one time they had a function in public, many people came to their hall. At that time I was here [in Australia] when they invited me. They weren’t afraid even though a bomb to kill them all was possible. But they gathered openly and exposed the mask of these warlords.


    RAWA”S site http://www.rawa.org/index.php

  75. 75 Dalec

    Jim, I don’t think they talk much about Afghanistan here.

    Don’t exactly know why. There must be reasons.


  76. 76 Barry

    Neither dalec nor Jim show any genuine interest in debate. Jim hasn’t yet shown that he knows how to debate. The reason for lack of engagement on their part is that they cannot really defend their position against the draining-the-swamps theory nor against the concept of a pseudo-left.

    It’s helpful to have them reveal themselves in such a way – indeed, if they didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them – but I feel there should come a time when their mutual admiration posts and continuing failure to engage in debate results in a bit of ‘sin-binning’.

  77. 77 jim sharp

    i wondered when you’d get back to your owd form, coz i remember you sin-binning the pirate & RonP. from the vic ACFS news letter when you were it’s editor. but then no matter how well you work your celestial magic “one can’t turn lead into gold! ”
    it was in in the late ’40s & early’50s that i encounted varsity type debaters in the pub on a suday ev’ in the mining/steelo’s village were i lived & worked & the proliesamongst us wud constantly remind ’em that for all their gobbing on. it was the pit & steelo lads + the sparkies the then most militant factions of the working class in the u.k. who were in Real struggle that came from actions when no amount of celestial debate divorced from our lives will lift these words of yours from this screen

  78. 78 Barry

    Jim, you demean yourself with the constant references to your class background, as though that experience gives you superior knowledge or wisdom to others. Again, it seems you do this as a substitute for debating. You still show no genuine interest in debating here.

    PS: It’s news to me that I was ever editor of the Victorian ACFS newsletter.

  79. 79 jim sharp

    comrade? if you desire be heard
    & be in the leading Van.
    ‘tis an ab-so-lute must

    You cultivate your hearing
    & listening approach
    & listen while you can!

    otherwise you’ll be way out front
    whilst the people
    ‘ave turned the corner

    coz comrade?
    nobody listens
    Ta perpetual pontificators

  80. 80 Barry

    There’s no pontification in expecting someone with a contrary view to have the integrity to enter into debate.

    You were being ironic, right?

  81. 81 jim sharp

    teacher thanks for showing up the illiterateness of my prolie ways of me learning thru experience.
    but then others perchance ‘ave simular ways of expressing themselves?? well at least be fore thy’ve attained a varstiy degree

    Barry York: For years, I’ve told people the story of my first riot, which was at Festival Hall in 1964. And as I remembered it, it involved the Italian hero, Dominic De Nucci who was the World Heavyweight Champion for our region, being attacked from behind by a chap called The Mongolian Stomper, who had a bald head with this pointed sort of bit of hair and a long, Fu-Manchu type moustache, and who used to stomp his opponents into submission.
    more>> http://fulltext.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/1997/sports/sf970711.htm

  82. 82 Barry

    It’s not about ways of expressing oneself but about willingness to debate.

    More of my writings on pro-wrestling can be found at the site of the National Centre for History Education: http://www.hyperhistory.org/index.php?option=displaypage&Itemid=716&op=page

    Wrestling was very popular when I was a kid, especially maong fellow-migrants in Brunswick.

    I won’t be posting off-topic again, nor responding to Jim, unless he actually starts debating. So, Jim, your next say on this will be the last for me. Enjoy….

  1. 1 Obama in Cairo (therapy for liberals) at STRANGE TIMES

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