George W. Bush has used this line in some of his speeches referring derisively to people who think that the Third World simply isn’t ready for democracy. Some liberal commentators have suggested that this is a straw man — that nobody is out there saying anything remotely like this. Well, you can add liberal pundit Margaret Carlson to the lineup of people who, in fact, believe this sort of nonsense. Here’s Carlson on this weekend’s Capitol Gang,
CARLSON: Bush said he knew nothing about it [Abu Ghraib]. I believe him because he’s been sublimely disconnected from so much of this, as if someone else is in charge of this occupation. And the occupation has been a disaster, and it just keeps getting worse. Iraq is not better off.
CANTOR: Oh, my goodness!
CARLSON: It is not…
O’BEIRNE: Than with Saddam Hussein?
CANTOR: How can you say that?
CARLSON: You know — listen, you know what I thought? Was Iraq the way it was because of Saddam, or was Saddam the way he was because of Iraq? Iraq is proving to be ungovernable. Our window…
Unbelievable, even for a liberal hack like Carlson who frequently doesn’t understand the basic facts of things she opines about). Seeing the problem with her comments, she did concede later in her broadcast that,
It is better that Saddam Hussein is gone, but America has not helped itself in the world by the way we’ve behaved since he’s been gone.
Hmmm…trying to build hospitals and schools while dealing with an anti-democratic insurgency and terrorists who target Iraq civilians apparently mean nothing to Carlson. A few soldiers who are being subject to criminal prosecution for their inexcusable actions are the end all be all of the occupation to Carlson and those like her in the media.
On the last point, that Iraq is proving to be ungovernable, I think this is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy. Politicians and pundits of all strips seem to have set this absurdly high standard — that Iraqis would be celebrating the occupation and sit around writing Jeffersonian treatises — and then proclaim the mission a failure because some sort of democratic utopia hasn’t broken out in a little over a year in Iraq. Combined with the media aversion to casualties (it’s amazing to me how many media pundits believe that the current death rate of American soldiers in Iraq is enormous or overwhelming) the message seems to be that all military operations must be as successful as such one-sided U.S. victories as the invasion of Panama or else they are simply not worth doing or seeing through.