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POETRYETC  2003

POETRYETC 2003

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Subject:

Re: 1st and last channeling

From:

Frederick Pollack <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 10 Apr 2003 07:56:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

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Christopher Walker wrote:
>
> <snip>
> Those unruly mobs don't realize that the most important thing in the world
> is the feeling that one's own hands are clean [...] GOOD people must go on
> being GOOD, with clean hands, i.e., passive and impotent. [...] But not
> nasty guns and bombs and tanks and POLITICS, because that runs the risk of
> blurring the difference between being GOOD and being BAD [FP]
> <snip>
>
> The casus belli for Bush and Blair was that SH had WMDs and was an urgent
> and puissant threat. Given the brevity of this war (so far), the apparent
> ease with which it's being won and that WMDs haven't (yet) been found, they
> were either grossly mistaken or dishonest. Unless it was simply good
> fortune.
>
> The removal of SH, in other words, is epiphenomenal, rather as the
> emancipation of Iraqi women (one might note) was greatly assisted by
> Ba'athism but not its most notable feature. And it's hardly unexpected or
> unwelcome _in itself_.
>
        That's nice to hear.

> But it's not 'in itself', of course. It was preceded by earlier US support
> for Saddam; then two wars, one of which included a war crime and terrible
> after effects for the Southern Shia communities. And it will be followed by
> something unknown, the omens for which do not look very promising.
>
> This isn't what you disparage as hypothesis, simply opening the other eye.
>
        But it is the cheap wisdom of Unintended Consequences.  As for Bush's
motives, I've more than admitted they are not mine.

> Although you share his unilateralism, you affect to 'despise' Mr Bush. So,
> for you, the war has been a 'useful accident'. (The term is mine, but you
> accepted it.) You don't support Bush's intentions. You don't (necessarily)
> support the consequences (intended or otherwise) of what he does, merely
> those that strike you as 'useful'. Because 'useful' is a particular sort of
> dispositional (gaining its meaning from conditions or hypotheses that are
> underspecified, constantly being updated by new contexts) you treat this war
> and the politics of which it's a part _precisely_ as you accuse others of
> doing, taking refuge in passivity, viewing it ('making use of people you
> despise') rather as you might a rather strange game of chess in which the US
> is the only player, cherry-picking the good, leaving behind the bad.
>

        Shrewd point, and a valid one.  I've never claimed, however, to be
actively political.  My points remain: 1) moralistic whinging is neither
political action nor a substitute for it.  2) Bush's motives may help to
create a situation more benign than they are.  With the help of
practical political, i.e. opportunistic, action.

> For an indication of how your instrumental view of international politics
> may work in practice -
>
> <snip>
> I'm hoping for, first, a net gain in freedom in Iraq and the Mideast;
> second, geopolitical advantage for the West against radical Islam; third, a
> precedent for getting rid of tyrants; four, a more fluid political
> situation. [FP]
> <snip>
>
> - let's go back to Iran under the Shah.
>
> Whilst the Shah's reign drew unpeacefully and too slowly to its close, a
> friend was based in Meshed: days spent teaching English, evenings drinking
> with the local secret police. Meanwhile (not out of greater moral
> sensitivity but because I liked the music) I was attending highly emotional
> expat concerts here in London, being leafleted by frightened dissidents
> wearing IRA style balaclavas.
>
> Once the Shah did finally go, the expats and the dissidents returned. The
> result was popular at first and may have been, in your terms, 'a more fluid
> political situation'. But was it either a 'net gain in freedom' or 'a
> precedent for getting rid of tyrants'? And when SH took over from Ahmed
> Hassan al Bakr (supported by the US and later specifically by the divine Mr
> Rumsfeld) did that increase the West's geopolitical advantage against the
> 'radical Islam' of Shi'ite Iran or was it more complex than that?
>
> CW

I don't see what you think you're proving.  The US ruling class, having
stupidly supported the murderous Shah (who antagonized people in part by
deshadorizing women), then stupidly backed SH for 8 years against him,
while even more stupidly making use of militant Islamists against the
Soviets in Afghanistan.  I think one of the assumptions of the US ruling
class is that with their kind of wealth and power they can afford to
make long-lasting mistakes and learn only slowly from them.  I certainly
do wish they'd asked me, the people I read, your expat friends in London
or the ones I knew in Berkeley - they owned most of the restaurants
along Telegraph.  But you know, it looks like the mullahs have alienated
the bulk of the youth, inheritors of the bourgeois education and
infrastructure the shah installed and which Khomeini could not fully
dismantle.  So the USRC - and, opportunistically, freedom - has another
chance.  You're Brit, aren't you, Kent?  You know how stupid Top People
can be.

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