Thursday, January 01, 2009

Well, not really

Interesting case of the moral obtuseness of journalism, attributable here to the copydesk (the story itself isn't bad at all). This is the sort of hed that goes on stories about colonies or mandates or long-oppressed subprovinces gaining their independence. With Iraq, it only works if history didn't begin until around 2004.

The trouble with the hed is that Iraq is actually kind of familiar with the road to "self-rule," which it had enjoyed for, oh, seven decades or so until some unfortunate events of this decade. Your State Department is almost as disingenuous as your newspapers:

Independence: On October 3, 1932, Iraq gained independence from the League of Nations Mandate under British Administration. Several coups after 1958 resulted in dictatorship. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established in 2003 under Multi-National Force - Iraq protections.

... but that's really a matter of degree, isn't it?

A few brief reminders for the new year. "Self-rule" is not a synonym for enlightened rule, or for democracy, or for anything else. It's what members of the interstate system do when they govern themselves. Self-ruled Iraq, under the Saddam Hussein regime, was internally vicious and externally thuggish; the Reagan administration* ignored the former because it found the latter so useful at killing, mangling or otherwise containing the Iranians. Like many other moral or tactical blunders in international relations, it apparently seemed like a really good idea at the time.

Competent, humane rule might be new to Iraq, assuming it arrives. Self-rule isn't. If you don't want to be mistaken for a propaganda tool, you need to be able to tell the difference.

* And, to a lesser extent, Carter (who had far less of a record to judge) and Bush I (right up to the invasion of Kuwait).



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
Till somebody we *like* can be elected!

2:26 PM, January 02, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

To the shores of Tripoli
But not to Mississippoli ...

4:14 PM, January 02, 2009  

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