FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Confessions of a Despairing Voter

by TARIF ABBOUSHI

Until last Monday, I was an undecided voter. I agreed with friends, Republicans and Democrats alike, that Iraq is the central issue of this election. But I teetered nonetheless, as put off by the Bush administration’s determination to stay the course when the course has proven so disastrous, as I was suspicious that the Democrats lacked a credible alternate plan to stem the hemorrhage.

Republican friends tried to convince me–albeit in hushed tones–that I should vote for President Bush because although he won’t say so, he knows his trusted circle of advisors have let him down on Iraq. He knows they were wrong when they told him we would find weapons of mass destruction. He knows, as the bipartisan 9-11 commission report has confirmed, there is ‘no credible evidence’ that Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda to target the United States. And as the costs continue to escalate beyond 1,000 Americans dead, 7,000 Americans maimed (no need to mention Iraqi casualties, we don’t count them) and $200 Billion evaporated, he knows that Iraq wasn’t the slam-dunk rice-and-petals cakewalk they assured him it would be. He knows, the wisdom goes, but he won’t hold them accountable until after the election, because admitting egregious judgment now would be bad politics. (I think not admitting it now is worse). It’s a timing thing, I’m told: A second-term president free of re-election concerns is beholden to none. I don’t agree, because the party isn’t. I don’t believe this leopard will shed his spots; instead I picture a leopard’s fate amid a pack of hyenas.

My Democrat friends didn’t know what to tell me because their party hadn’t told them. They were rudderless, certain only of turbulence on the right, but unnerved by wind shifts on the left. I’m thinking: if you can’t dazzle them, baffle them.

It all ended on Monday, when John Kerry articulated his grand strategy du jour for Iraq: Convince other nations to get more involved, do a better job of training Iraqi security forces, provide benefits to the Iraqi people and ensure democratic elections will be held next year. Sounds to me he wants to do what Bush wants to do, only better.

Facing a decaying forest, our two candidates focus on reviving a select few trees; they only differ on how much water to use. They both appear to realize we cannot re-invent Iraq in our image without first winning the battle for hearts and minds. But neither seems to understand that the hearts and minds do not divorce our behavior in Iraq from our policy in the region as a whole. Bush and Kerry have yet to grasp that in the Middle East, selective democratization by American force is a doomed enterprise for a simple reason: the widespread universal belief that a person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person. Set aside the question of just how ‘nice’ America has been to Iraq. As long as we defer to Israel, as long as we sanction Syria for not withdrawing its troops from Lebanon even as we bankroll Israeli troops occupying Syrian land, as long as we befriend authoritarian Arab dictators who bow to our will, our peals for democracy in Iraq ring hollow. It would be hard enough selling democracy to our friends, let alone imposing it on our enemies. Imagine trying to convince the Israelis and Saudis to abolish their state-sanctioned laws and practices that discriminate on the basis of religion or sex!

We can waste thousands more American and Iraqi lives and untold additional hundreds of billions of dollars, but given the track record, how many of us really believe Iraq will be a stable pro-American democracy by, say, the election of 2008?

Of more immediate concern is the race of 2004. The strategic Middle East policy tilt of the Republican party will continue to cater to its base of fundamentalist right-wing Christian Zionists (no small irony that the word ‘Qaeda’ means ‘base’), its tactics charted under the corrosive influence of pro-Likud neoconservative ideologues. As for the Democrats, I might have been tempted by a paradigm shift toward an American-centric foreign policy in the Middle East.

Given what is at stake for our nation, it is not Iraq per se, but our Mid-East foreign policy that is the central issue of this election. Until last Monday, I was an undecided voter. Now I’m a despairing one.

TARIF ABBOUSHI lives in Houston. He can be reached at: TAbboushi@aol.com

 

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail