“Knowing what we know about the difficulties of our own history, let us always be humble in singing freedom’s praises. But let our voice not waver in speaking out on the side of people seeking freedom. And let us never indulge the condescending voices who allege that some people are not interested in freedom or aren’t ready for freedom’s responsibilities. That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad.”
Condi’s fanciful fib, weirdly inverting history, must have provoked more than a few guffaws. In the Condi Rice school of revisionist history, the antiwar movement of the 1960s did not come out of the civil rights movement, and, furthermore, the segregationists and their hero, George Wallace, didn’t disdain the protestors as Commie-pinko-hippie-queers.
The condescending saviors of the Bush administration couldn’t wait for the Iraqi people to seek and win their own freedom. Now they stand guard over a conquered province, delaying free elections until the Iraqis are “ready.” Washington rightly fears a truly democratic election will sweep radical Islamists into power, inaugurating a Shi’ite Muslim “republic” in the southern region of the country and leading to the break-up of Iraq along ethnic lines.
American blacks are in no way analogous to Iraqis: after all, the former are, in spite of George Wallace’s heirs and the Africanist rantings of “black nationalists,” Americans, while the latter are foreigners. One wonders why this even has to be pointed out.
Iraqis didn’t fight in the American Revolution, but blacks did, as schoolchildren are ceaselessly reminded. The Iraqis didn’t have a Jefferson, or a George Washington: their Founders were in the British Foreign Office, ours rose up in rebellion against that Office and established the first enduring constitutional republic on earth. Not that this would much impress Ms. Rice, who clearly has it in for the Founders, as she makes clear in her remarks:
“But Democracy is not easy. Our own histories should remind us that the union of democratic principle and practice is always a work in progress. When the Founding Fathers said “We the People,” they did not mean us. Our ancestors were considered three-fifths of a person. America has made great strides to overcome its birth defects but the struggle has been long and the cost has been high.”
The lies just keep coming. That the historic compromise reached by the Constitutional Convention was motivated by contempt for blacks is another of Ms. Rice’s “revisionist” bon mots. However, this left-wing fairy tale is not only a myth, long a staple of anti-Americana, it is certainly an odd way for an ostensibly conservative administration to justify its foreign policy.
Ms. Rice no doubt sincerely believes that the Constitutional Convention was the moral equivalent of a cross-burning, but history tells a different story. In the face of a threat by the Southern states to go off on their own, the convention took no position on the slavery question, neither recognizing it nor forbidding it. As Garet Garrett pointed out in The American Story (1956):
“The Constitutional Convention took refuge in the hopeful position that in time slavery would disappear of itself, provided it were left to states. In that mood the Convention performed the first great feat of documentary ambiguity in our history. The Constitutoin recognized slavery in an oblique manner without accepting it, and it never once used either the word slave or Negro. It referred instead to ‘persons held to service or labor.'”
Rice draws a portrait of the Founders familiar to the inmates of our universities, where an atmosphere of political correctness is all-pervasive and strictly enforced: they were white slave-owning property-owning men, and therefore evil to the max. How, then, did they come to found the freest nation on earth? Ms. Rice never does get around to explaining that conundrum. But her complaint about blacks being gerrymandered out of their full person-hood is particularly odd, considering the origins of the three-fifths formulation. As Garrett explains:
“When a slave state enumerated its population for purposes of representation in Congress it could count five slaves as equal to three free men. The purpose of this was to give the Southern states more seats in the House of Representatives than they would have been entitled to hold on the count of their white population alone.”
Since blacks couldn’t vote, equalizing this formula would have given the pro-slavery faction even more votes, granting the South a comfortable majority in Congress. The whole point of the three-fifths rule was to limit the power of the slave states. Employing this sort of demagogic rhetoric was, perhaps, merely pandering to the prejudices of her audience, but Rice’s apparent ignorance of the historical facts is astounding.
The idea that we Americans cannot rest until the “civil rights” of people the world over are secured is utter madness, and indicative of how far the “civil rights” revolution has usurped the original libertarian vision of the Founders, who abhorred the empires of Europe and charted for us a different course. No wonder Rice, the neo-imperialist, is denouncing them. Washington averred, in his “Farewell Address,” that
“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.”
Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, called for “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” The framers of the Constitution understood, as Madison put it, that “war is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement,” which is why they gave to Congress, alone, the exclusive power to declare war a power that has been usurped by the executive branch on account our foreign policy of global intervention..
America, said John Quincy Adams, “is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” Any attempt to export liberty at gunpoint would “involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assumes the colors and usurps the standard of freedom.”
Adams was a seer: he foresaw Ms. Rice and that gang in Washington a couple of centuries ahead of time, and then some. As we find ourselves involved beyond the power of extrication in an ever-widening, ever-more-costly war on the other side of the world, his words of warning haunt our policymakers’ worst nightmares.
This administration still refuses to provide Congress with a projection of long-term costs in Iraq. In reading Rice’s remarks, however, not a few jaws must have dropped on both sides of the aisle as they learned how
“We and our allies must make a generational commitment to helping the people of the Middle East transform their region.”
So we’re going to be in Iraq for the next fifty years or so: the truth at last, buried amid a mountain of lies:
The grandiosity of such a project is the best argument against it. History, too, is witness to its folly. But such traditionally conservative reservations about the limits of power fail to restrain the neoconservatives and their Washington accomplices, such as Dr. Rice. Perhaps they are even emboldened. That’s why they call it megalomania.
Utilizing Ms. Rice to announce that the U.S. will henceforth take up the White Man’s Burden may have been an unconscious strategy, but I doubt it. Nothing done by this administration is left to chance: the whole farce is carefully choreographed, down to the last photo op. Sending Ms. Rice to pander to this group’s well-developed sense of political correctness in order to justify the war is a typical tactic of the recent neocon “left” turn: the idea is to give the antiwar movement the Trent Lott treatment.
So, you oppose getting bogged down in Iraq for a generation, eh? You don’t want to sacrifice your sons and daughters, your hard-earned tax dollars, in a world crusade to ensure that everyone has the “civil right” to be occupied by American troops? Well, then, you’re a “racist” it’s as simple as that.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
Adams’ trope describing “all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice” brings to mind the case of Joseph Braude, recently caught trying to smuggle stolen Iraqi artifacts into the U.S. The author of The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for Its People, a book widely touted by supporters of the “liberation,” was found to be in possession of three 4,000-year-old stone seals looted from the Baghdad National Museum. Braude at first denied traveling to Iraq, but later fessed up, and is now facing a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. In announcing Braude’s arrest, a federal prosecutor crowed:
“This administration has sent a clear signal that we would not allow thieves to take advantage of the conflict in Iraq to pilfer its antiquities. This prosecution demonstrates that we are committed to preserving that archaeological heritage from looters and profiteers.”
But what Braude did merely reflects, on a microeconomic level, what the United States has done in a larger sense: Braude stole a few artifacts, but the War Party stole an entire nation. Braude is an analyst at Pyramid Research, a consulting company that analyzes overseas investment opportunities for American investors in high-tech communications, with particular emphasis on North Africa and the Middle East. His book is a sales pitch for American hi-tech companies to get on the “reconstruction” bandwagon. Braude is cited selling the war as good for business in a February 18 New York Times piece on “The Race to Rewire a Postwar Iraq“:
“‘A new government in Baghdad more favorably disposed to the United States could tilt the geopolitical favor of telecoms’ future contracts in the direction of American companies,’ said Joseph Braude, a senior analyst at Pyramid Research, a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that conducts international telecommunications research.
“Braude, who is also the author of ‘The New Iraq,’ a book soon to be published about rebuilding that country’s infrastructure, estimated that Iraq needed to invest at least $1 billion over the next several years to improve its basic fixed-line telephone system.”
Licking their chops before a shot had been fired, the slumping telecom giants were chafing at the bit, drooling over all those juicy government contracts. The looters and war profiteers are being collared for petty acts of pilfering, but as the occupation government and its Iraqi front-men hand out franchises to the favored few, the wholesale looting of Iraq is a crime that goes unpunished.