I don’t think it is appropriate for Mr. Hanson to patronize here about Arab brotherhood. If he is trying to make a point about Arab and Saudi corruption, then he is correct. Corruption has been one of the serious problems plaguing the Saudi political system. But then, and unfortunately, using political and financial briberies is part of the international political game. How much did the U.S. pay Turkey to open its border for the American forces during the war, and to send in its troops during the occupation? Finally, any money that would go to Iraq now would be going to the American authorities, and not to ‘brother Iraqis.’ So let’s not play such a game.
Hanson: It is no game; remember carefully what I said. I argued that a successful Iraq will, in fact, end patronizing of Arabs. The irony of this entire debate is that the only process that will truly give Iraq or the Middle East autonomy and pride – in the manner of Asia or Latin America – and freedom from American patronizing is the process now underway in Iraq. The only solution is a free economy and society that will end the present pathology of these unfree regimes channeling their own failures in closed media against the Americans and the ‘Jews’…. We need not be utopians; critics can bicker over methods and slights, but at some point observers of good faith cannot miss the central issue of our times: one of the worst fascist killers of the age was disposed – and would never have been disposed of had the UN or Europe been in charge – and something much better is now a real possibility. And the U.S. is at least listening and not in some Pavlovian fashion supporting the old autocracies on the basis of oil and anti-communism.
So despite questions of pride and stature, surely the transition from Baathism…is a good thing. We wish it were possible without our help, but then we wished that were true too for the Germans and the Japanese. As for the current crisis, read accounts in 1945-6 – our less hysterical media of the age still ran daily reports about resurgent Nazism; Polish terrorists killing Germans; hunger; murdering of Americans; and the hopelessness of it all.The real story will be in the next year or so, when elections are held, the economy is freed from past statism and Baathist corruption, and the people are broadcast on al Jazeera enjoying a degree of freedom unthinkable elsewhere in the region. It will be burdensome for many intellectuals in the Middle East to see that reform was foreign induced, but that is no reason out of pride, envy, or pique, not to at least grasp that reform was sorely needed and the only hope for the region.
Finally, all this is inexplicable without 9/11 and the central truth that for nearly twenty years terrorists from the Middle East, often aided, sheltered and abetted by both enemies and friends of the United States, killed Americans routinely, without consequences, and often to the applause of the Arab street. People should realize that Americans now regard such killing as war and are prepared to finish what others have started.