Iran

The Return of Persian Ameriphilia?

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Yesterday, the Washington Post ran this fascinating story by Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad and Time magazine's Iran correspondent, tracking Iranian's ever-shifting attitudes towards America and Americans. Long considered the most pro-American country in the region—world's tallest midget, obviously—opinion towards The Great Satan, Moavenu argues, has ebbed and flowed during the Bush years. Back in 2004, Nicolas Kristof wrote that he had finally "found a pro-American country." The twist was, of course, that he was writing from Tehran. Kristof spoke with an inordinate number of Iranians who were "exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States, and often for President Bush as well." Well, that was 2004.

According Moaveni, public opinion turned against Bush and America the following year: "Starting in about 2005, Iranians' historic esteem for the United States gave way to a deep ambivalence that is only now ending. President Bush's post-9/11 wars of liberation on both of Iran's borders—in Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east—rattled ordinary Iranians, and Washington's opposition to Iran's nuclear programa major source of national pride—added to their resentment." But the sands, she argues, are again shifting:

"I used to hear similarly pro-American sentiments frequently back in 2001, when Iranians' romance with the United States was at its most ardent. A poll conducted that same year found that 74 percent of Iranians supported restoring ties with the United States (whereupon the pollster was tossed into prison). You couldn't attend a dinner party without hearing someone, envious of the recently liberated Afghans, ask, "When will the Americans come save us?"

It's highly unlikely that this is a widely held sentiment these days. But, Moaveni writes, the incompetent and corrupt rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shifted the focus from problems in countries that border Iran (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq) to more pressing economic problems at home:

"I lived in Iran until last summer and experienced all the reasons why Ahmadinejad has replaced the United States as Iranians' top object of vexation. Under his leadership, inflation has spiked at least 20 percent, according to nongovernment analysts—thanks to Ahmadinejad's expansionary fiscal policies, which inject vast amounts of cash into the economy. My old babysitter, for example, says she can no longer afford to feed her family red meat once a week. When I recently picked up some groceries—a sack of potatoes, some green plums, two cantaloupes and a few tomatoes—the bill came to the equivalent of $40.

Full story.

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  1. Our good name is our most powerful tool for promoting freedom, and we should bend over backwards to keep it pristine.

  2. I am Iranian and I hate the USA (but I do not hate all the American people, just those Jew lovers, ignorant, low intelligent and un-educated ones!) Do I need to name Bush by name?

  3. I am Iranian and I hate the USA (but I do not hate all the American people, just those Jew lovers, ignorant, low intelligent and un-educated ones!) Do I need to name Bush by name?

    well atleast you dont hate jews, douchebag

  4. This website isn’t blocked in Iran? Really?

  5. Wait, you mean that if you elect a saber-rattling religious nut you might get shitty economic policy?

    Damn, good thing that we Americans would never…oh, shit!

  6. At least Kiumars admits it’s the Jews he hates and not just “zionism,” as his leaders insist.

    I’m skeptical of this story. It reminds me of stories of how we’d be treated as liberators in Iraq. For years we’d hear from Iraqi expatriates how much the Iraqi people love us and want us to free them.

  7. -Receiving several thousand dollars a year in remittances from your relatives in Irvine will make you pro-American.

    -Not having any American troops or any US government presence and very few American businessmen in your country will make you pro-American.

  8. I am Iranian and I hate the USA (but I do not hate all the American people, just those Jew lovers, ignorant, low intelligent and un-educated ones!) Do I need to name Bush by name?

    You’re just jealous we can afford red meat and cantaloupes.

  9. Wait a minute, what is all this anger with Ahmadinejad’s “policies” and “rule?” Haven’t we been told over and over again that he’s not in control in Iran and that it is safe to ignore his anti-Israel rhetoric? Is he a figurehead that Bush uses to make points against, or does he, in fact, run Iran?

  10. creech-

    From what I understand, the Ayatollahs decided to make the office of the President just powerful enough so that he could create diplomatic problems and put incompetent cronies in domestic offices, but not powerful enough to actually control the security services (which they retain authority over).

    This wouldn’t be the first time that some people who pull strings behind curtains let an idiot shoot his mouth off and give patronage jobs to cronies.

  11. My Iranian friends tell me that the populace is apathetic and cynical about the political process in general; sounds like a lot of us here!!

    Can’t afford red meat and melons, sounds like the country I know and live in!

    It is interesting that Ahmaninjad and Bush’s political fortunes are sinking together. We often despise the most those whom we are most alike. They’re birds of a feather, those two.

  12. Its worth it to point out, because of the hand-wringing over the “wipe Israel off the map” statement that the Iranian President is not, and never has or will be, the Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian armed forces. Even if Iran had 100 nukes he couldn’t “wipe Israel off the map” because he isn’t authorized to give that order any more than Nancy Pelosi here could launch nukes.

    The Supreme Ayatollah is, and hes already made it clear Iran would not take the first shot in a war with Israel. I’m not saying you should take him at his word, but at least in public he says doesn’t want to do that.

  13. How seriously can you take an article purporting to describe Iranian public opinion that contains this ridiculousness: “President Bush’s post-9/11 wars of liberation on both of Iran’s borders-in Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east, rattled ordinary Iranians.”

    Can anyone but the most deluded Bush apologist claim the war in Iraq has had anything to do with “liberation”? As far as I can tell it was in illegal war of aggression, but then I’m not a discredited hawk — and writer for the Weekly Standard — like our man Moynihan.

  14. charlie makes a good point. Mr. Moynihan, how can you call the invasion of Iraq a “liberation” with a straight face?

  15. Under his leadership, inflation has spiked at least 20 percent

  16. thoreau :charlie makes a good point. Mr. Moynihan, how can you call the invasion of Iraq a “liberation” with a straight face?

    It’s not that hard. While the invasion/occupation/rebuilding may have been bollixed, bungled, fumbled, frazzled, the pooch generally screwed, and with an eye towards having some bases handy, you know, “just in case”, what would you call it? Doesn’t look to me like a war of conquest, a police action, or a punitive expedition. Well, you could make a case for the last.

  17. Good point, Jammer. Even if it was completely botched and even if it did fail to deliver much meaningful freedom and even if it does seem to conveniently lead to some permanent bases, the idea that it could be anything other than a liberation is absurd.

    My bad. Mr. Moynihan, I apologize for ever holding a low opinion of you. You obviously have a very keen perception of the situation in Iraq, and the next time there’s a difficult foreign policy question I will defer to people like you. What could possibly go wrong?

  18. thoreau

    Well, what should one call a war of liberation that fails? It is still hardly a war of conquest. What do you think it was about? Liberating wars need not be without advantages accruing to the liberators, though it might offend our sensibilities.

    I’m guessing you think it was more of an imperial venture, though its hard to tell through all the snark.

  19. Hey kids, “wars of liberation” is a quote from Moaveni, and from the context sounds a little tongue-in-cheek.

  20. Its worth it to point out, because of the hand-wringing over the “wipe Israel off the map” statement that the Iranian President is not, and never has or will be, the Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian armed forces.

    Isn’t there a significant chunk of the Iranian armed forces that operates outside the military command structure? The Revolutionary Guards, perhaps? Who do they report to?

  21. Rather than just get a cheap shot in at Moynihan for allowing the “liberation” comment to go unchallenged, I should also point out that the article is pretty much garbage.

    First off, how many dinner parties did our enterprising Time magazine reporter attend where people expressed their yearning for an American liberation? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that she probably didn’t attend too many parties at the homes of Islamic fundamentalists — Ahmadenijad’s base of support since becoming mayor of Tehran — and maybe, just maybe, her contacts weren’t representative of the people of Iran as a whole.

    I also find it interesting that the reporter considers hoping for a U.S. invasion to be an example of “pro-Americanism” akin to liking Britney Spears and Coca Cola. Iranians have liked American goods for a long time — that’s not news — yet that doesn’t mean there is increasing support for a U.S. “liberation,” which the reporter defined as “pro-Americanism” in the beginning of the article. Clearly one can like materialism without liking the U.S. government — as evidenced by the posts at Reason every day.

    Also, notice that the reporter reduces all opposition to U.S. polices as coming from “a pious bazaar merchant” and “liberal college kids in designer parkas” (any guesses as to what the Time magazine reporter was wearing?).

    Plenty of Iranians that I’ve encountered are still pissed about the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadeq, and we’re expected too believe that only the fundamentalist crazies and those darned liberals in “designer parkas” are the ones who disapprove of U.S. foreign policy? Please.

    And, typical of a reporter at an establishment publication like Time or the Post, the reporter never once even bothers to mention just why so many Iranians may be tempted to view the U.S. as the “Great Satan.” There’s certainly no mention of the U.S. backed dictatorship of the Shah, so we’re left to view this people as silly fundamentalists, rather than, perhaps, people with legitimate grievances about U.S. policy in the region.

    We are also led to believe that only those few backward reactionaries who still support the Iranian government are the ones that could possibly still hate the U.S. government, when clearly one can hate both.

  22. You’ll notice that Kiumars has a U.K. email address.

    Hey, wait a minute. That’s not an Iranian; it’s the maid who had to clean up after Mr. Creosote!

  23. “Isn’t there a significant chunk of the Iranian armed forces that operates outside the military command structure? The Revolutionary Guards, perhaps? Who do they report to?”

    The Ayatollah is also considered the head of the Revolutionary Guards. In fact, they began as the first Ayatollah’s personal bodyguards and later grew into a kind of shadow army. But they still report to the Ayatollah as their Commander-in-Chief.

  24. This is why in short the Iranian President is just not that scary. Hes a figurehead who can make a lot of noise, and then hes gone when his term ends in August 2009. This stuff about how he is a “dictator” (the Ayatollah is the real dictator) and “the next Hitler” is sickeningly overblown.

  25. Persian chicks are so fucking hot ungghggn

  26. What kind of name is that anyhow? Kiumars? What is that five o’s or two u’s?

  27. Drat! I was expecting this to be about Soda Stereo’s recent reunion tour (on which they indeed performed “Persiana Americana”).

  28. Hey kids, “wars of liberation” is a quote from Moaveni, and from the context sounds a little tongue-in-cheek

    I think thoreau’s sarcasm detector is acting up today.

  29. Goddamn. I haven’t slept enough lately. I can’t even notice a quotation mark.

    My deepest apologies, Mr. Moynihan.

  30. Starting in about 2005, Iranians’ historic esteem for the United States gave way to a deep ambivalence that is only now ending. President Bush’s post-9/11 wars of liberation on both of Iran’s borders-in Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east-rattled ordinary Iranians, and Washington’s opposition to Iran’s nuclear programa major source of national pride-added to their resentment.

    Uh, if that’s the explanation, shouldn’t that change of attitude have occurred in 2003 — you know, when the invasion and “Axis of Evil” status took place? Or are Iranian reflexes sluggish?

  31. What I don’t get is why it can’t be possible to some that much of the Iranian populace actually DOES hold America in high regard (or at least the IDEA of America) much of the time.

    There’s a couple of generations of Iranians now who knew little to nothing of the overthrow of Mossadegh and who ONLY know theocracy. Iran was never a particularly religious society, and in many ways has always had a pretty cosmopolitan flavor. They’re a very diverse people who try their damnedest to exercise what little political freedom they’re allowed. Hell, Tehran alone has something like 50 daily newspapers at any given time (granted, they get shut down constantly, only to reappear later).

  32. You couldn’t attend a dinner party without hearing someone, envious of the recently liberated Afghans, ask, “When will the Americans come save us?”

    Shhh!

    Jesus, Allah and Jehovah, what the hell are you trying to do to us — to yourselves. Shut the fuck up before the neo-cons hear you…

  33. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, there were massive protests in the streets of Iran, demanding democratic reform. They grew so large, and rattled the mullahs so much, that they had to jail some of their own security personnel for murder after some student leaders were killed.

    That all went away when we invaded Iraq.

  34. “Hes a figurehead who can make a lot of noise, and then hes gone when his term ends in August 2009.”

    In other words the “liberators” are running out of time. The drums sound louder everyday.

  35. It’s almost axiomatic that the friendlier we are with an autocratic government, the more the people there hate us, and vice versa.

    There’s a lesson there.

    That all went away when we invaded Iraq.

    And now they’re holding elections in Iraq.

  36. And now they’re holding elections in Iraq.

    I’d change the subject, too. How’s that “Arab Spring” going? The answer is, exactly the wrong way.

    Note the date.

    Yes, the last story you can find about the protests is three months after the invasion. That’s my point.

  37. Uh, if that’s the explanation, shouldn’t that change of attitude have occurred in 2003 — you know, when the invasion and “Axis of Evil” status took place?

    Exactly.

    Colonel H.R. McMaster has the best explanation of what happened from 2003-2006, and why it changed from 2007 onward.

    http://www.aei.org/events/filter.,eventID.1722/transcript.asp

    Point number five would be the militias are increasingly discredited, its linked to the point made earlier just like Al-Qaeda was rejected from the communities in which they were operating, we are now seeing militias rejected by the populations in which they had been operating. A friend of mine who writes about these things has said that everybody has to sweep in front of their own house in Iraq, and we’re now able to see within the Shiite community that kind of sweeping in front of the house that the Sunni community was able to do with improved security by legitimate, trusted security forces operating in areas which had been previously safe havens for either Al-Qaeda or for militias.

    When I traveled through the south on a last couple of visits, what I heard – and this is again on the point of militias being increasingly discredited, and this is from Iraqi Shiite leaders who were saying things like Iran is the true occupier of Iraq. They would say jokingly that the Iranians are now all Iraqi nationalists, which is a thinly-veiled swipe at some of the militias in some of these areas.

    And so whereas before about a year ago, you wouldn’t really hear Iraqi leaders, especially in these areas in the south, offering criticism of Iran and the parties and communities within Iraq who were playing host to Iranian influence but you hear that almost all the time now among Shiite Arab leaders. And also a connection to Iran, and this again affects the militias, is becoming a liability much like being connected to Al-Qaeda was a liability for so-called resistance movements in the Sunni Arab community. These are again changes that I’ve seen in the last year.

    The contradictions of Iranian policies I’ve mentioned at the beginning have been exposed and Iraqis have to deal with them now. They have to deal with them again partly because of that pressure on the political parties, who are embarrassed by the connections to Iran and what Iran is doing. So the sixth thing is, no big surprise, the exposure of Iranian activity and Iran’s true intentions. There are some people in this room who have been way ahead on that and I think we’ve been way ahead on it but of course I think we recognize the fact, our government, our military, that the key thing is to work with Iraqis on this problem and here you have effort between us and Iraq leaders is critical to addressing the destabilizing actions and influence of Iran in Iraq.

    Now related to that, point seven is that U.S. intentions are much more clear to Iraqis. One of the things we were transitioning is it turns out too rapidly, not to blame anybody for that, but I mean, interaction with the enemy is that we also were vacating the battleground of perception. And Iraqis were confusing our activities with our intentions as we left them behind and their neighborhoods were taken over by terrorists and militias who were victimizing the people in those neighborhoods. So people were thinking, you know, maybe America wants us to fail.

    And also, of course, the enemies’ propaganda whether it’s Al-Qaeda or the militias, is they try to blame people other than themselves for their own murderous and oppressive acts. So you had this really strange situation where you have Al-Qaeda conducting mass murder attacks and saying, you know, the Americans made me do that or the Jaysh al-Mahdi controlling basic services in Sadr City in effect controlling the $800 million budget of the Baghdad Ahmanat and then saying, well, you know, we have better basic services here if it wasn’t for the Americans.

    Because we have vacated those battlegrounds of perception essentially, as well as physical battlegrounds, we lost a lot of ground. But by going back in there by the courage, determination, compassion that our soldiers demonstrated alongside Iraqi security forces, that helped clarify our intentions. And the risks that we took to save Iraqi people’s lives, to make their lives better, registered with them and then removed, I think, a key element of the enemy’s propaganda from their retinue or what they are able to say about us to discredit our efforts.

    The light footprint was a disaster because we removed Saddam so easily that everyone assumed everything happening in Iraq was what we wanted to happen (and of course, our enemies were happy to promote this idea). As power coalesced around the ruthless sectarian militias and we didn’t stop them, people become disillusioned.

  38. Yes, the last story you can find about the protests is three months after the invasion. That’s my point.

    They obviously didn’t stop because of the invasion, or one would have expected them to end in April.

  39. How’s that “Arab Spring” going?

    Sunni Arab Iraqis have embraced the political process and are raring to vote in the next elections (they boycotted the last ones).

  40. Also:

    In 2005, the first Saudi Arabian municipal elections were held,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Saudi_Arabia

    It’s a start.

  41. They obviously didn’t stop because of the invasion, or one would have expected them to end in April.

    LOL! Yes, because the political consequences of actions always occur within a day or two.

    I guess the American withdrawal from Vietnam didn’t cause any of the post-war bloodshed after all, since it largely took place year later.

    Right, TallDave?

    It’s a start.

    That’s funny, because three whole years ago, you were telling us that the events happening THEN were not just a start, but Arab Spring coming to fruition.

    I guess the Surge hasn’t started yet, either.

  42. LOL! Yes, because the political consequences of actions always occur within a day or two.

    So your argument is that the Iranian students said “Oh no! The U.S. has invaded Iraq! We’re so disillusioned now! Let’s have a few more months of protests, then we’ll stop!” Doesn’t make sense.

    The Iranians were celebrating Saddam’s fall.

    The invasion itself had little or nothing to do with the. The chaos that arose later might have diminished enthusiasm, along with Iranian truncheons.

    That’s funny, because three whole years ago, you were telling us that the events happening THEN were not just a start, but Arab Spring coming to fruition.

    I can’t be held responsible for your delusional recollections. Obviously municipal elections are only a start.

  43. One can recognize that Iraqi elections are a good thing, without blinding one’s self to the facts that 1) the Iranian democratic uprising that began around the year 2000 disappeared after we invaded Iraq, and 2) the promised “Arab Spring” the Iraqi elections were supposed to bring about never happened.

    If you want to make the case that the invasion of Iraq was good for democracy, you’re going to have to limit your analysis to Iraq, because Iran and the rest of the region don’t help the case.

  44. EGYPT: Elections
    Author: Esther Pan

    August 31, 2005

    When did Egyptian election law change to allow opponents?
    In February, Mubarak announced the presidential election would be open to multiple candidates. Previous presidential polls featured only Mubarak’s name on the ballot, and Egyptians voted only yes or no. A parliamentary vote on the measure May 10 was followed by a May 25 public referendum, in which voters approved the change to Article 76 of the Egyptian Constitution to allow multiple candidates to run for president. Experts say the move came in response to pressure from the United States and from within Egypt to open up Egyptian society and allow democratic reforms.

  45. So your argument is that the Iranian students said “Oh no! The U.S. has invaded Iraq! We’re so disillusioned now! Let’s have a few more months of protests, then we’ll stop!”

    Nope, my argument was that American invasion of Iraq and threats towards Iran caused a “rally ’round the flag” effect which squashed the pro-American movement and gave the government a freer hand in crushing the much smaller protests.

    Which looks remarkably like, The invasion itself had little or nothing to do with the. The chaos that arose later might have diminished enthusiasm, along with Iranian truncheons. except my version doesn’t pick and choose between consequences of the invasion, as though the “chaos that followed” had nothing to do with the invasion.

    Obviously municipal elections are only a start. As were the parliamentary elections in the UAE, which took place before the invasion. Like the long-planned Saudi Arabian municipal elections, they weren’t the consequence of the invasion, either. Although slow, democratic reform efforts in the Middle East have been going on for quite some time. Let’s hope this little adventure has harmed them too much.

  46. EU urges Turkey to continue adopting reforms Print

    Wednesday , 28 May 2008

    EU Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn said Turkey should continue adopting reforms especially the judicial reforms, n?ting that the existence of a neutral, independent, reliable and a transparent judiciary in Turkey was indispensable.

    Rehn praised efforts of Turkey to amend articles that limit freedom of expression, saying, “We are pleased with Turkey’s adoption of Law on Foundations and amending article 301 of Turkish Penal Code. Turkey should also revise other articles that limited freedom of expression.”

    http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=55700

  47. Experts say the move came in response to pressure from the United States and from within Egypt to open up Egyptian society and allow democratic reforms.

    That’s odd, nothing about inspiration from the sight of post-war Iraq? Hmm.

    It’s too bad the aftermath of the Iraq invasion has so hindered our efforts to push for democracy. That is one of the few areas that the Bush administration actually saw some success.

  48. Nope, my argument was that American invasion of Iraq and threats towards Iran

    That’s a function of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and has little to do with Iraq.

    as though the “chaos that followed” had nothing to do with the invasion.

    They occupation and invasion are obviously related, but also obviously not the same thing. Iranians could both cheer the invasion and be dismayed at the conditions that followed.

  49. It’s too bad the aftermath of the Iraq invasion has so hindered our efforts to push for democracy

    On the contrary, Iraq proved we are deadly serious about expanding liberal dmeocracy in a way nothing else could have.

    Remember, the idea we would promote liberal democracy in Iraq was widely scoffed at, even here at home. Juan Cole said in 2004 that we would more likely impose some kind of friendly strongman.

  50. EU urges Turkey to continue adopting reforms Print

    Wednesday , 28 May 2008

    Yet another example of pro-democracy foreign policy having nothing to do with the invasion of the Iraq.

    EU expansion, and their willingness to condition new membership on democratic and liberal reforms, is another good example of pro-democracy foreign policy that isn’t a miserable failure.

  51. Yet another example of pro-democracy foreign policy having nothing to do with the invasion of the Iraq.

    Well, you asked how the Arab Spring was going.

  52. If you want to assume all this progress just happened to occur around the same time we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion.

    Turkey to adopt reforms even if EU-entry blocked

    http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/turkey-adopt-reforms-eu-entry-blocked/article-163243

    A Turkish reform plan to complete EU-accession talks by 2013 has been cautiously welcomed by the Commission, with Turkish officials saying that the reforms would be carried out even if the country is eventually refused EU membership.

  53. That’s a function of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and has little to do with Iraq.

    You do remember the Axis of Evil speech, right?

    The administration was sabre-rattling and denouncing the Iranian regime, while its proxies talked about “onto Tehran” and “onto Damascus” immediately after the fall of Baghdad.

    They occupation and invasion are obviously related, but also obviously not the same thing. Iranians could both cheer the invasion and be dismayed at the conditions that followed. Agreed, and that’s precisely what happened, in my view. Had the consequences of invading Iraq only been the toppling of the regime and the wonders that were supposed to follow, the reaction throughout the region would likely have been very different.

    But, of course, the consequences of that invasion were what we’ve seen for the past five years.

    On the contrary, Iraq proved we are deadly serious about expanding liberal dmeocracy in a way nothing else could have.

    And this is where you differ – you think that “nothing else” but American guns can bring about democracy in a Muslim society, and we liberals disagree. We think they can do it on their own, and look to the popular uprising in Tehran as an example.

    Remember, the idea we would promote liberal democracy in Iraq was widely scoffed at, even here at home. Juan Cole said in 2004 that we would more likely impose some kind of friendly strongman.

    You are talking about “would,” that is, your intentions. I’m talking about “could,” that is, our capacity. I think that at least some people in the adminstration were actually serious about democratic reform. They weren’t just using pretty words to justify a Mesopotamian power grab, but genuinely did want to turn Iraq into a warm version of Minnesota, politically.

    They just weren’t able to, because democratic reform just doesn’t work that way.

  54. Well, you asked how the Arab Spring was going.

    Yes, and you responded by pointing to the process of EU membership expansion, which both predates and is wholly unrelated to the invasion of Iraq.

    Perhaps we’re talking past each other – “Arab Spring” was supposed to be the wave of democratic reform and uprisings that were going to take place as Middle Easterners saw what was happening in post-war Iraq and decided they wanted some of that.

  55. If you want to assume all this progress just happened to occur around the same time we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion.

    The Iranian uprisings didn’t happen “around the same time we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan.” They began before we launched those invasions, and died after we went in.

    Turkey has been a democratic republic since the 1920s, and its current reform movement dates to its efforts to gain EU membership in the 1990s.

    The parliamentary elections in the Gulf states, including the election of female MPs in some countries, also tookk place before the invasions.

  56. Lebanon, of course, has been a democratic republic since the 1970s, and its once-strong pro-western/anti-Syrian movement was galvinized by the murder of Hariri and the diplomatic response by the US and France. Just to head off another post hoc argument.

    BTW, the Bush administration’s diplomacy in that matter was quite well done, including its cooperation with our traditional allies. I wish Bush had used his political capital in the region after the toppling to the Taliban to pursue more of that, rather than launching the Iraq War.

  57. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45575-2005Feb22.html

    Jumblatt dresses like an ex-hippie, in jeans and loafers, but he maintains the exquisite manners of a Lebanese aristocrat. Over the years, I’ve often heard him denouncing the United States and Israel, but these days, in the aftermath of Hariri’s death, he’s sounding almost like a neoconservative. He says he’s determined to defy the Syrians until their troops leave Lebanon and the Lahoud government is replaced.

    “It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,” explains Jumblatt. “I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.” Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. “The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”

  58. http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2005/May/middleeast_May851.xml&section=middleeast&col=

    PARIS – Syrian dissident parties – some close to former Syrian Deputy President Rifat Al Assad – have called for demonstration against the country’s policies. They also urged the foreign ministries of the European Union countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Syria.

    The Arab People’s Democratic Party (APDP), whose secretary-general is Somar Rifat Al Assad, and the Washington-based Alliance for Syria, headed by Dr Mohammed Al Jubaili, and the German-based Modernity and Democratic Party, issued in Paris on Wednesday a statement in which they criticised “the continuous arbitrary arrests, the suppression of general rights under the state of emergency, the reckless security policy, and terrorism in Syria by the arrest of members of the Attasi Forum for National Dialogue and Mohammed Radoun, a renowned lawyer.”

  59. Well, you asked how the Arab Spring was going.

    Yes, and you responded by pointing to the process of EU membership expansion, which both predates and is wholly unrelated to the invasion of Iraq.

    Again, if you want to believe all this progress coincidentally happened while we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, you are free to do so.

  60. I expect the 2008 and 2009 elections in Iraq will also have a salutary effect.

    Are we going to see a wave of uprisings that topple Arab regimes, a la Eastern Europe? Unlikely; there was always an uncelebrated nationalistic component to those revolutions. But people are going to start asking why Iraq has elections and they don’t. It could look something like S Korea’s influence in liberalizing Asia, where S Korean pop culture has become disproportionately dominant.

  61. Walid Jumblatt is a very crafty fella, who knows where his bread is buttered.

    Again, if you want to believe all this progress coincidentally happened while we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, you are free to do so.

    Just as you are free to pretend that the EU/Turkey negotiations, the Iranian student uprisings, and the incremental growth of gulf-state democracy started in 2003.

    Those of us who can read the date lines on news stories will continue to rely on our reality-based, linear understanding of time.

  62. But people are going to start asking why Iraq has elections and they don’t.

    I think it’s the car bombs and ethnic cleansing, myself. The problem with imposing democracy at gunpoint is that it turns the society in question into a battlefield.

    I wonder, why didn’t the 2005 elections have this effect? I wonder, why didn’t the decades of Turkish elections have this effect? I wonder, why didn’t the decades of Lebanese elections have this effect? I wonder, why didn’t the Palestinian elections have this effect?

    I wonder, why do you think that Arab people weren’t asking that question in 2001?

    It could look something like S Korea’s influence in liberalizing Asia, where S Korean pop culture has become disproportionately dominant. Korea isn’t under foreign occupation.

  63. Just as you are free to pretend that the EU/Turkey negotiations, the Iranian student uprisings, and the incremental growth of gulf-state democracy started in 2003.

    Well, again, you asked how the Arab Spring was going. I don’t know how anything is supposed to be tied to Iraq other than by statements such as those made by Walid, which are opinion. I don’t really care either; success is success, and war critics can tell themselves whatever they like.

    The problem with imposing democracy at gunpoint is that it turns the society in question into a battlefield.

    No, in fact quite the oppposite. It was the absence of pro-democracy security forces that led to chaos. See the occupations of Germany, Japan and S Korea.

    Korea isn’t under foreign occupation.

    Then neither is Iraq.

  64. I wonder, why didn’t the 2005 elections have this effect?

    They did. Der Spiegel was asking “Was Bush Right?” Walid made his statements shortly thereafter. The Cedar Revolution followed.

    I wonder, why didn’t the decades of Turkish elections have this effect?

    Progress in Turkey has been slow and fitful. Progress in Iraq was incredibly rapid by comparison.

    I wonder, why do you think that Arab people weren’t asking that question in 2001?

    I’m sure some were, but now suddenly they see tens of millions of Arabs and Afghans voting in free elections.

  65. Goddamn. I haven’t slept enough lately. I can’t even notice a quotation mark.

    My deepest apologies, Mr. Moynihan.

    It happens.

    http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2007/12/10/7535

  66. Alternative fuel source for the fossil fuel by making use of the oil extracted from jatropha curcas seeds, which is then converted into biodiesel for industrial and automotive uses.

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