Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Those Purple Fingers

I've been thinking about those purple Iraqi fingers and what it all means. Naomi Klein has nailed the cynical interpretation. Since the Iraqi's will "...have that vote completely ignored", it's all, what, a waste? Bring back Saddam? Naomi doesn't say.

What's happening isn't that George W Bush is a great man, or that the Iraqis love him. The Iraqis see that this is one chance to get democracy. A chance that won't come again. And they are grabbing it with both hands. Clearly, Iraqis mostly hated Saddam. It is now possible that Iraq will end up as a genuine democracy. This would be a stupendous achievement. Of course, as Klein told us in 2004 "The idea that the United States could bring genuine democracy to Iraq is now irredeemably discredited." I think it's been re-credited. Not guaranteed, of course.

Democracy is a very imperfect system. In 1964 the US voted for the peace candidate, Lyndon Johnson, over the hawk Barry Goldwater, and the peace candidate won. I think we can safely assume that the US citizenry did not get what it wanted. The Americans elected and then re-elected Nixon and didn't get what it wanted then, either.

The Muslims of Iraq undoubtedly have the "Right" to live as Muslims. Of course, this means women do not have the same "Rights" as men. Do the women of Iraq have the "Right" to live as second-class citizens? As you can see, I am in a difficult area here. I guess the Iraqi men have the right to oppress, as we would quaintly call it, the Iraqi women. As in Saudi Arabia, for example. There, by the way, it is illegal for any Saudi citizen to be a Christian or a Jew. I guess they have the right to do that. But I won't grant them that right.

If we believe that the Iraqis have the right to not be murdered and to vote to select their leaders we are certainly putting our values onto their society. Why then don't we force them to grant women's rights? Or equality for other religions? One reason may be that the Iraqis agree with us on the issue of voting and staying alive, but not the others. Women are only 50% percent of Iraq but the Kurds and Shiite are more like 80%. If Iraq were 80% women the whole story would be different. Quite different. This could only happen after some horrible war or bio-engineering disaster. Or both. But you'd sure see some feminism out of the Bush White House, wouldn't you?

Anyway, to get back to the topic of the post, it is apparent that to do great things you don't necessarily have to be a great person. Just do what George W Bush did; tie himself to the coattails of a great historical force -- the will of the people to rule themselves. And it is apparent to me that George W Bush, whom I voted against, is doing a great thing in Iraq.

There are those who would naively define a great person (or great man) as one who accomplishes great things. I think we are all above that now.

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