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February 06, 2005

It's 'Ask The "Expert'", With Richard Clarke...

I believe I may have observed before that Richard Clarke is, not to put too fine a point on it, an asshat.

Now that he's out of the limelight, Mr. Clarke fears we shall forget this important fact and so he hastens to remind us of it:

Last month, the self-appointed head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, railed against ''this evil principle of democracy'' and said he would send his fighters to kill people who tried to vote. Days before, in Washington, President Bush delivered an inaugural address focused almost exclusively on promoting democracy, which he portrayed as an antidote for ''our vulnerability.'' His theory was that ''resentment and tyranny'' simmer in undemocratic nations, breeding violent ideologies that will ''cross the most defended borders'' to pose a ''mortal threat.''

Given these statements by Zarqawi and Bush, Americans might well conclude that Al Qaeda's primary aim is preventing democracy. Following the president's theory, they might assume terrorism cannot grow in democracies and that the best way to deal with it is to create more democracies. Unfortunately, both beliefs may be mistaken.

Not since the 9/11 Commission Follies have we been offered entertainment of this magnitude. Perhaps only ancient Rome's Circus Maximus afforded a like spectacle. Prepare to be enlightened, America. We who are about to laugh, salute you.

In the wake of the successful Iraqi elections he poo-poo'd, the man who advised then-President Clinton not to bother attending those "tiresome CIA briefings" is about to tell us how it really is. We can hardly wait. What will the always-inventive Mr. Clarke pull out of his hat this time?

Zarqawi and his followers do oppose democracy in Iraq, but they do so partly because they believe that the continuing electoral process (a constitutional referendum is planned for October of this year and a national election for December) is an American imposition. In this they are joined by the many Iraqis who simply want an occupying army to leave. In addition, Zarqawi's group seeks support from the Sunni Arab minority, which in any democratic process will lose power as compared with what it had in the decades of Baath Party rule.

Ah! So "many Iraqis" want us to leave! Well if democracy is established, and al-Zarqawi isn't opposed to democracy, then it shouldn't be too hard for him to simply use the democratic process to foment simmering resentment against US 'imperialism' and vote himself or his puppets into office, n'est pas? Or am I going too fast? But wait! there's more!

Beyond Iraq, in the greater Muslim world, opposing democracy is not uppermost in the mind of Al Qaeda or the larger jihadist network. (In Saudi Arabia, for example, Al Qaeda wants the monarchy replaced by a more democratic government.) Radical Islamists are ultimately seeking to create something orthogonal to our model of democracy. They are fighting to create a theocracy or, in their vernacular, a caliphate (a divinely inspired government administered by a caliph as Allah's viceroy on earth). They are also seeking to evict American influence from nations with a Muslim majority (or even, as in Iraq, a Muslim minority, given their view that Shiites are, as Zarqawi put it, part of a ''wicked sect'' and not true Muslims). In pursuing these goals, today's loosely affiliated Islamic terrorist groups are part of a trend dating back to at least 1928, when the Muslim Brotherhood was founded to promote Islam and fight colonialism.

What's wrong with this picture? A caliphate doesn't sound all that democratic to me. And let's examine just how "democracy" grew and prospered under Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Because we all know that was the primary aim of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan: democratic governance. The will of the people. The Taliban were all about inclusiveness and democracy, weren't they? Now that I think of it, wasn't there a Taliban Carebear? Or was that My Little Pony - I can never remember...

In case we're not completely confused, Mr. Clarke now takes us on a tour of history, but unfortunately he can't resist the temptation to stop and cherry-pick a few examples:

This trend hasn't abated with the spread of democracy. In Indonesia, which just achieved its third democratic transfer of power since Suharto's rule ended in 1998, the jihadist movement is growing stronger, as it is in other Asian democracies. In Algeria, free elections in 1990 and 1991 resulted in victories for those who advocated a jihadist theocracy. Throughout Western Europe, the jihadists are becoming deeply rooted among disaffected Muslim youth. Free elections, in short, have not dimmed the desire of jihadists to create a caliphate.

My word, Mr. Clarke. Do you mean to tell us that democracy has been in existence for... what... six years and terrorism has not been completely stamped out? We confess it - we are shocked! What a miserable failure.

Democracy takes time to evolve, and sometimes it happens in fits and starts. It took the noble experiment called the United States over two hundred years and we're still working on getting it right. Japan tried it once with the Meiji Constitution, but true democracy came only at the point of a gun after [horror of horrors!] a lengthy US occupation, post-WWII. Funny you don't mention that one in your cherry-picking expedition. It must not have fit into your agenda basket.

Mr. Clarke must not have read the all the studies concluding that stable democracies are, in fact, the best bulwark against terror. Studies which, furthermore, showed a temporary increase in terrorism in emerging democracies to be quite normal and, moreover, expected. And that it declines as order is established and the dissident elements in society find a voice through the democratic process. He really should try to catch up on his reading now that he has more time on his hands. Not at all daunted, Mr. Clarke essays forth with another disingenuous example:

Even without jihadists, Western democracies have hardly been immune to terrorism. The Irish Republican Army, the Baader-Meinhof gang of Germany and the Red Brigades of Italy all developed in democracies. Indeed, in the United States, the largest terrorist attack before Sept. 11 was conducted in Oklahoma by fully enfranchised American citizens.

Yes, Mr. Clarke, but these groups are not in control. Nor have they, ultimately, managed to disrupt the governments of the countries in which they operate. They are, at best, pathetic attempts to force on an unwilling public, through violence and intimidation, what they are unable to gain through popular approval or the plebiscite.

And have they all failed. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

The (democratic) Republics survive. So what, exactly, is his point? That we should let Saddam out of jail and restore him to power so we don't "provoke" the nasty bad men anymore?

With "spokesmen" like Mr. Clarke in our midst, who needs enemies?

For many in the Islamic world, the United States is still associated with such acts as having made the 250,000 person city of Falluja uninhabitable. Because of the enormous resentment of the United States government in the Islamic world, documented in numerous opinion polls, we will have to look to nongovernmental organizations and other nations to lead the battle of ideas.

Who made Fallujah "uninhabitable"? Certainly not us. It was the "insurgents", who are willing to target innocent Muslims to keep them from a future in which they decide their own destiny. Last Sunday Iraqis walked to the polls, braving gunfire to assert their right to vote. They "get it", even if cynics like Mr. Clarke do not. They do not "want us to leave", even if cowards like Mr. Clarke cannot wait to cut and run. But this is not surprising. He had his tail between his legs long before 9/11.

No wonder he didn't see it coming.

Posted by Cassandra at February 6, 2005 11:16 AM

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Tracked on February 6, 2005 02:42 PM


The title should read: "Ass",the Expert..."Tiny Dick" Clarke.
He needs mental Immodium.


Posted by: Greg at February 6, 2005 12:57 PM

This morning I was trying to remember the first time I ever lost my temper and used the term "asshat" (which I had been trying to avoid). I'm almost certain it was in reference to Mr. Clarke.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2005 01:08 PM

Cass, no one will think any less of you for that indiscretion.....Mother Teresa would be hard-pressed to come up with a kind thought about this insignificant little man.


Posted by: Greg at February 6, 2005 01:16 PM

"Beyond Iraq, in the greater Muslim world, opposing democracy is not uppermost in the mind of Al Qaeda or the larger jihadist network" - Richard Clarke.


Don't let this guy near any sharp objects or play with electricity.
What a scheiskopf!

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 6, 2005 03:13 PM

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