I know and respect Daniel Tauber, head of Likud Anglos, despite my tone in this rebuttal. He has gotten farther than I have in politics, though I suspect that’s because I hate politics. We agree on many things, but foreign policy is definitely not one of them. This is my response to his Jerusalem Post article that can be seen here. My responses to each paragraph are in bold.
Not long after September 11, US president George W. Bush declared “a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.” No longer would the US support dictators, but would actively push Arab states to become democratic.
So since 9/11, the US has not supported any dictators, but has instead actively pushed Arab states to become democratic? There are two problems with that statement, both of which have to do with reality. First, since 9/11, the US has supported almost every Mideast dictator with US taxpayer money. Both King Abdullahs (Saudi Arabia and Jordan) Qaddafi (when he did stuff Bush liked), Mubarak, Karzai in Afghanistan, who America basically installed by force of big bombs on airplanes (“democratically” I suppose), the guy in Qatar (a dictator who Bush really liked because they let him put bombs in their country to promote freedom in the Middle East), Bahrain, Kuwait, but I’m sure all this dictator support was in order to promote democracy and a free middle east.
If by “actively push Arab states to become democratic” Tauber means “actively push Arab states by force to do whatever America wants them to do” then he’s right.
The policy was based on two primary conclusions: first, that under authoritarian regimes, the Middle East “will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export”; second, the tenets of liberalism were universal and the “peoples of the Middle East” are not “somehow beyond the reach of liberty.”
The Middle East IS a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export precisely BECAUSE America cannot resist collecting oil fiefdoms and annoying Arabs with military bases on their land that they use to manage their ludicrous empire.
Inspiring words, but elections in Lebanon and in the Palestinian Authority (which Bush brought about) led to victories for Hezbollah and Hamas. While some advocates of the “freedom agenda” have hailed the Arab Spring as confirming Bush’s vision, in Egypt, Islamist parties won the parliament and presidency. But that doesn’t mean president Bush was wrong in principle.
Bush wasn’t WRONG in principle. Bush didn’t HAVE a principle. He was simply LYING. He didn’t care about liberty. He was just using the word “liberty” because he wanted to have Saddam Hussein’s handgun framed in the Oval Office as a war prize to show to his daddy so he’d be proud of him for finishing the job. It would have been cheaper to send him to a good shrink so he’d find his father’s approval in a way that wouldn’t cost $1 trillion and thousands of American lives for NO reason.
His argument was essentially a reformulation of the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal” and “are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” The “freedom agenda” merely applied US support for democracy abroad to the Middle East, where a pro-stability philosophy governed its foreign policy.
This one’s a real kicker. Yes, all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Like the right not to be bombed by foreign countries one did not provoke in any way. What the heck did Saddam Hussein ever do to the United States except unsuccessfully try to defend himself against them in 1991 and 2003? Sure he was a schmuck, but I can’t think of a single Mideast dictator that isn’t. The US has no pro-stability philosophy. If they did they’d leave other countries alone and just trade with them. They have not a pro-liberty philosophy, but a pro-empire philosophy, and will use any excuse to expand. 9/11 was a rather good one. Instead of going after Osama bin Laden directly with a few special forces, killing the guy and calling it a day, they followed the USSR’s example and obliterated all of Afghanistan and decided to make it a US colony.
For those who were indeed inspired by the “freedom agenda,” who, as liberals and humanitarians, still desire the success of democracy in the Middle East, the question is not whether democracy was meant to come to the region. The question is how, in light of subsequent developments, the “freedom agenda” could be modified to ensure that democracy is not merely the rubber stamp on an Islamist takeover.
The scholarly tone of this paragraph really drives me up a wall. Besides democracy itself being a horrible thing (the majority can always vote to kill the minority or take all their stuff in a democracy), no one who calls himself a liberal or humanitarian votes to promote liberal and humanitarian values by slaughtering innocent Arab children. NEVER forget that over half a MILLION Iraqi kids died after the first gulf war due to sanctions against the country that prevented food and medicine from entering Iraq’s borders. In the name of democracy I guess. Madeleine Albright called this a “worthwhile sacrifice” in an interview with 60 minutes in the mid 90’s. Does Tauber believe it was worthwhile as well? I can only assume so. No wonder Bin Laden was able to gather up so much support and enthusiasm for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
First, it should be recognized, as it has been by many, that elections alone do not establish democracy.
Yes, they do, and that’s precisely why democracy is evil. Tauber is confusing democracy with liberty. The latter is the ultimate good. The former is very bad. Democracy is effectively rule by the majority, which is precisely why pushing it in a culture that does not value individual life very highly is a sincerely stupid idea. In a country like the US where liberty is culturally respected at least in theory, democracy is less dangerous, though still pretty bad.
An election can be merely the one-time tool of an anti-democratic group in seizing power. Elections can also be rigged, either by outright electoral fraud or because those in power don’t allow for real opposition. The symbolic power of an election, which Bush realized could draw people to democracy, can also be misused as a method of legitimizing authoritarian regimes.
Yes, this is all true. Which is why Tauber’s “freedom agenda” is inane.
INSTEAD OF merely calling for or endorsing elections, the focus should be on establishing a democratic political culture by offering direct assistance to democratic organizations and pressing states, including new democracies – and pressing them hard – to establish and protect those institutions such as a free media and (non- Islamist) opposition parties.
If you want to press “new democracies” hard, why don’t you go do it yourself with your own money? How do you want to “press them hard”? By bombing them some more? More sanctions that will just end up killing more children? How much is this going to cost? Has it ever succeeded in history? Where is the money going to come from? The Federal Reserve? In case you haven’t noticed, America is the most bankrupt institution in human history.
Second, the collapse of authoritarian regimes in the region tends to unleash extreme anti-Israel forces, which may have even been fostered by the former regimes. This is not just a threat to Israel. If democracy enables those forces to wreak havoc on their neighbors as well as their own citizens that democracy will be artificial and worthless.
All democracies imposed by guns and bombs on cultures that do not value liberty in principle, are ipso facto artificial and worthless. The biggest threat to Israel is actually America itself, while they are busy pissing off so many Arab countries and Israel sits there as the easier target to lash out against in response.
So as part of its push for a democratic culture, the US should make clear, to Egypt especially, that state institutions must be free of anti-Israel rhetoric, that anti-Israel terrorist groups must be eliminated, and that “reviewing” peace treaties, leaving Israeli embassies unprotected from violent mobs and arresting Jewish tourists as “spies,” are all unacceptable.
And how is the mighty United States going to enforce all this? With more bombs and sanctions that will cost the global economy, already in recession, hundreds of billions of dollars? Will taxpayers be forced to subsidize secret CIA and NSA forces in Egypt making sure no Egyptians say anything bad about Israel or they’ll be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay, yet another outpost of the US Empire?
Third, the US itself must not feed the obsession over Israel with repeated attempts at reviving the peace process. This shifts regional attention away from the various states’ many internal problems. These misguided efforts also divert US attention and capital from actually promoting democracy.
Now THIS is a good paragraph. I agree with this paragraph 97.72%, given that there are 44 words in it and I only disagree with one of the words – democracy. Change it to “liberty” and I’m all with Tauber. If only he applied the same logic of America leaving Israel alone to leaving everyone alone who does not attack them, then we’d be in business. It is indeed sad that the only country Tauber wants America to stop meddling with is the very country Tauber himself actually lives in. What about everyone else? Don’t they deserve to not be meddled with as well?
The final and most important reform to the freedom agenda is shifting focus to Iran, the preeminent anti-democratic force in the region. During our conversation, Abrams said it would have been “ludicrous” to think about democracy in the Middle East with someone like Saddam Hussein “sitting in the middle of it.” It seems equally ludicrous to think about democracy in the Middle East when the mullahs are sitting on high in Iran.
Iran WAS a democracy that respected liberty before America decided to get involved in 1953 and depose their leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh, due to an oil dispute with Great Britain and install the dictatorial and brutal Shah. It is ludicrous to think about democracy in the Mideast by forcing it with armies on cultures that do not value liberty.
It goes without saying that Iran must be prevented from developing nuclear weapons.
Yes, but what does this have to do with America? Has Iran ever threatened America? America has certainly threatened Iran. Iranian nukes are Israel’s problem. Israel is the one being threatened, not America. So let’s deal with it.
Whether or not Israel unilaterally strikes Iran and regardless of how much damage it does to Iran’s nuclear program, the US must ensure that sanctions are kept in place and be overtly willing to use force itself.
With WHAT money? Sanctions against innocent Iranians for WHAT? Have sanctions EVER stopped governments from doing what the US didn’t want them to do? Can he cite an example? One would be enough. Just one.
The sanctions and military, cyber, covert and other attacks will take their toll on the regime. The mullahs cannot hold out forever as their airplanes threaten to fall out of the sky for lack of replacement parts, food prices rise, their currency is devalued, they are unable to export their most lucrative commodity, and cannot insure their commercial shipping, while also silencing all opposition.
In case you haven’t noticed, food prices are rising everywhere, currencies are being devalued globally, and America doesn’t export anything except papers called “dollars” and “treasuries”. See the chart below. That’s the US trade deficit. What plugs up the hole to bring it back to zero? Paper. When everyone realizes that the paper is actually worthless because America is not good for its debts, the Empire will come crashing down and Tauber will have to follow my advice to leave everyone alone due to complete lack of any alternative.
2 thoughts on “Responding to Likud Anglos’ Daniel Tauber’s “Freedom Agenda””
It is indeed all about the Bushes. The dance today is the benign support for Romney while the Bush establishment hopes for a second Obama semester so to run Chris Christie as the family front man in 2016 with Jeb Bush as VP and dominate the Middle East in the rising century. They had Kissinger and Barbara Bush calling Christie and even his wife to get him to challenge Romney and promised billions of NY money which they had on hand. But somebody caught on to their scheme (I wonder who) and wrote it up and he pulled out at the last minute. A Romney win now should kill the Bush dynasty and a Mormon president might be interesting: He tends to see issues clearly and has no personal investment in Arab oil or dynasties. What else is said about him (dog on the roof of his car) he appears to be a man of honor. (Note: When he became governor of Massachusetts I wrote him a letter and asked him to fire Billy Bolger, president of U. Mass. where I went to college because Billy, Boston Irish as I am, was given the job as a political favor by a previous Republican governor. Romney fired him.) Israelis might be interested in the TV documentary “The Mormons” with Yale’s Harold Bloom in commentary. I was mesmirized: Mormons understand the need for a temple in a ritual connection to the ancestors and to God. Like Torah-based Israelis they are personally governed by deeper lore than the legalities of the constitution. In that regard I believe they authentically appreciate Israeli not only as the root of civilization but as a model state on a higher moral, ethical and spiritual basis; in other words, they recognize that Israel is timeless and it is Jewish. American influence there will be ephemeral.
You always bring an interesting perspective I haven’t heard. I suppose Romney would be less catastrophic than Obama, but at this point I don’t think it makes much difference. Mormons are definitely more interesting than atheists, which is what I believe Obama is. I’m not sure even if he loses that the Bush/Christie plan will have a chance because by then, the real collapse will most definitely be underway and the country will be screaming for someone like Ron Paul.