It’s odd how uncontextual much of the Left is these days. I suppose it’s because their views / policies don’t make much sense if one actually considers them in a realistic situation. And of course, the context most frequently elided is any that would reflect favorably on the USA.
As case in point, we have via Bagnews Notes, a video of Naomi Klein discussing an article of hers in Harper’s magazine concerning her experiences in Iraq. Alledgely Klein is considered one of the better voices of the Left on this issue, which certainly makes me feel sad for the rest.
She harps on the idea of a “neocon utopia”, by which she seems to mean some kind of lassiez-faire Hong Kong like system. One of course is left wondering why the prosperity of British ruled Hong Kong would be such a horrible fate to visit on the Iraqi people, but let that pass by as the actual goal of the invasion was to replace the Ba’ath regime with something resembling a liberal democracy. Klein elides that bit of context, one of many she drops in order to get her story arranged.
Klein does manage to hit a couple of good points.
The first is that the CPA didn’t do a good job of hiring locals, that it in fact imported non-skilled workers from other countries or giving sub-contracts to local firms. I remember this being a source of complaint from the conservatives at the time. It’s a case of being penny-wise and pound foolish, but it seems to be far more rooted in the whole “accountability” issue that permeates the beauocracy and is heavily promoted by the same factions that complain of this. We see a repeat of this in Klein’s second reasonable point, which is the slow pace of spending by the CPA. It’s another point on which conservatives have complained as well, but at least the conservatives aren’t simultaneously complaining of no-bid contracts and Halliburton. Spending the money fast to achieve policy goals can only be done by accepting a higher level of waste and fraud and far more no-bid contracts given to firms with a proven record, e.g. Halliburton. It is precisely this kind of dream world, contradictory demands that makes it so tiring to argue with much of the Left these days.
But after hitting these points, Klein descends in to the valley of no context. At the highest level, Klein seems to believe that the Iraqis would be better off with either the previous Ba’ath regime or the national socialism that has done so much for Africa. She talks disapprovingly of “smashing Iraq” and “every government building decimated”. Of course, Iraq was run down far more by the Ba’ath and sanctions than the war, which in historical terms did phenomenonally little damage (woops, there’s that context thing again). It was the Ba’ath regime that was smashed, not Iraq. Does Klein not think the Ba’ath regime deserved to be smashed?
The oddest bit is her view of the “resistance”. I find it unarguable that the primary cause of lack of infrastructure, death and delay of full Iraqi sovereignity is the actions of the violent caliphascists terrorizing Iraq. Yet Klein seems to think well of these people, that they’re a natural outgrowth of frustrated citizens rather than the foreign agents, dead end Ba’athists and religious extremists that they are.
Klein doesn’t bother with wondering why, if the Iraqis are upset with the slow pace of infrastructure reconstruction, an organic resistance would spend its time blowing it up.
Klein doesn’t wonder why, if the Iraqis was the Americans out of Iraq, an organic resistance would slaughter Iraqis wholesale and deliberately target those organs of government necessary for self rule, with out which the occupation will continue.
Klein herself brings up that the continuing unrest has diverted billions from reconstruction to security. But she blames the USA, not those causing the violence.
The questions would require context and not just faulting the USA which seems to be why they haven’t occured to Klein. And once you wonder about that kind of thing, most of her case falls apart. I think she could have made a good one if she’d just consider a bit of the context in which our actions in Iraq take place and the trade offs required.