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POLITICS
Adnane Ben.
Boston USA
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Islam vs The West Part 4. The U.S. Empire
12:00:00 AM Monday Aug 4, 2003


Found on The Rolling Stone magazine issue 928, August 7, 2003
National Affairs section page 35.
? 2003 Rolling Stone


The Rolling Stone Panel
BENJAMIN BARBER
Professor and author of Jihad vs. McWorld
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Columnist for the New York Times and author of Longitudes and Attitudes
RACHEL BRONSON
Director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations
ROBERT KAPLAN
Foreign correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly and author of Blakan Ghosts
AHMAD CHALABI
Head of Iraqi National Congress
JOSEPH NYE
Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of government
HOWARD DEAN
Former Vermont governor and presidential candidate
DANIEL PIPES
Columnist and founder of the Middle East Forum
CHAS W. FREEMAN
Former ambassador to Saudi Arabia
JAMES ZOGBY
President of the Arab American Institute

Raioo selected some of the questions of this debate, more will come in the next political discussions, stay tuned.

Previous debate question: Islam vs The West Part 3. Beyond Religion in Iraq

Can democracy be force-fed by an occupying power, or must it be a homegrown, evlutionary process?

ROBERT KAPLAN: We must exert hard power, or we will be perceived as weak. We have to create a situation where the only people using guns are American troops. What we want in Iraq - as we want all over the world - is not necessarily an American-style democracy. We want a civil society, however it takes shape - even if it's under an enlightened despot. Freedom in the Middle East is impossible without authority. Then we can make that authority increasingly less oppressive.

ZOGBY: This idea that if we beat them up hard enough, they'll get the message, is an old, horribly obsolete British-colonial notion, and it will without a doubt put us on a collision source - a tremendous clash of civilizations.

But given the chaos in Baghdad, don't we have to forcefully restore order before we can begin working with Iraqis to build a self-sustaining government?

CHALABI: The U.S. military are very good soldiers but not good policemen. that's why immediately, the U.S. needs to begin training an Iraqi national security force and withdraw its forces from Iraqi cities, which are creating tremendous tension.

BARBER: Our imposition of force goes well beyond controlling banditry. Even as the U.S. is saying it eventually wants to create conditions in which the Iraqis can govern themselves, it is busy making, on its own, almost all of the significant decisions about the shape of the economy that a democratic Iraqi government would want to make for itself. It's already been decided by the U.S. that the Iraqi energy industry will be privatized, as will its telecommunications industry.

Isn't it clear by this point that we didn't go into this war simply for humanitarian or security reasons - that we have made this incursion into the Middle East chiefly to safeguard our own interests?

FRIEDMAN: This is am imperial project, and an imperial project requires an imperial sensibility - one that balnaces the will of the occupying power with the interests of the occupied civilians. You do want to give the message to Iraqis that it's a partnership but also that you will turn the power over to them at a pace by which they can receive it.

It seems surprising to hear the word empire tossed around without apology or euphemism

KAPLAN: It is a clich? these days to observe that the United States now posseses a global emppire; the question now is how the American empire should operate on a tactical level to manage an unruly world. As I argue in the current Atlantic Monthly, for the time being, the highest morality must be the preservation - and wherever prudent, the accretion - of American power. At this point in time, American power, and American power only, can serve as an organizing principle for the worldwide expansion of liberal civil society. A world dominated by the United Nations - would be infinitely worse than the world we have now. Two or three decades gence, conditions may be propitious for the emergence of a new international system. But until then, it is largely the task of the United States to maintain a modicum of order and stability.

JOSEPH NYE: Indeed, the word empire has come out of the closet. With the United States representing nearly half of the world's military expenditures, no countervailing coalition can create a traditional military balance of power. There are huge and difficult responsibilities that come with that power. For better or worse, having invaded Iraq, we now own it. And we have to put it back together.

DEAN: It is not the intention of the American people to have an empire. It is not in keeping without our democratic character.

So this is an imperial incursion, not a tidy scheme for "regime change" that will finance itself?

FREEMAN: The big joke is that the American taxpayer will pay dearly for it. There is no way that Iraqi oil will pay for everything: It will take a $6 billion investment to restore the Iraqi oil system to its prewar production rate, at which point Iraq will be earning about $15 billion a year from oil exports. Reconstruction costs are likely to run $25 billion a year for the next five years, at least. Plus, Iraq is just short of $398 billion in debt, which means that even if you get the oil flowing, you are still going to have a lot more money going out than coming in. We have gone out of our way to say that the international community is not welcome to contribute, so the U.S. taxpayer will end up footing this.

So what do you, Raioosters, think, about these interesting questions that are bringing this debate slowly to end.

..stay tuned for the last question from this debate coming up on the next political discussion, here on raioo!

The content of this page —graphics, text and other elements—is © Copyright 2007 prospective author, and Raioo, Inc., only when stated otherwise, and may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher.



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