[see nota bene update]
There are a few phenomena particular to Hollywood - discussed elsewhere in detail - that came to a head over the Iraq invasion. I sat at many tables populated by lots of people with juris doctorate degrees, as well as others who were either educated or news-aware, 75%+ of whom were strongly, very strongly or vehemently strongly, against U.S. military action in Iraq. In both the pre-invasion and post-invasion phase, I had the pleasure/burden of explaining what the "Wolfowitz Plan" actually was (rather than some Haliburton-laced version).
Reactions to my Wolfowitz tutorials were all over the map, but there was one common theme: They were hearing it laid out, for the first time, from me.
I was continually struck by how educated people, who had each spent hours, and maybe scores of hours, listening to news and analysis of the war, had never been told what the actual Wolfowitz Plan was. Phenomenon #1: These otherwise bright people are so proselytized by their news sources, that the Playbook 101 of the Guys Currently Running the World are unknown them. (I have espoused that cognitive dissonance
is an equally plausible explanation - to wit, they had indeed heard the basic Wolfowitz Plan spelled out, but their brains re-configured it before copying it to the brain's hard drive, so as to not upset some feisty cranial neighbors).
nb: The original, Clinton-era Wolfowitz Plan is reported here
. Have you ever seen it reproduced, in its entirety, after September 2002 (i.e., the month that Bush gave The Speech
to the UN) ? For those who have followed it, Wolfowitz' 1998 idea was to establish (by force) an in-country Iraqi US military base as a safe zone for an anti-Saddam, pro-democracy movement in Iraq. After 9/11, this idea inflated in Big-Bang-like style. The post-9/11 need to prevent regional WMD proliferation dovetailed nicely with a grander Wolfowitz Plan -- the US could try to achieve regional reformation in a single generation, instead of 3, by turning the entire country of Iraq into a democracy safe zone, rather than just a small Free Zone out in the Iraqi desert.
I use the following explanation with Leftie Hollywooders, to some effect: During the Cold War, the Soviet Politburo and Party Congress came to the conclusion that world communism could not survive in the face of the economic engine of capitalism. The capitalist system simply created too many goods (consumer and military) for the communist system to combat, in the long run. Accordingly, in addition to the Soviet's plan to gradually communize the third world, as a necessary strategic step towards eliminating the capitalist engine, the Soviet also closed its borders - the Iron Curtain descended - in order that knowledge of the prosperity of the West be minimized, to the extent possible, to the hundreds of millions living behind the Curtain. [Good time to get your listener to acknowledge that the foregoing is basically accepted as true, to prevent slippery avoidance later.] The Soviets then commenced a decades-long propaganda program, telling its wards that the West was a bad, dangerous place.
But in pockets behind the curtain,Western radio and TV signals could be received. And for decades, an alternative version of reality was provided to those behind the Curtain. Put simply: How can you expect two generations of semi-starving Albanians to accept the Soviet's Big Lie, when every night they view Italian TV commercials? To wit: The Big Lie gets exposed, continually and continuously, for a generation. At some point, the Big Lie no longer has much effect; the Albanians knew that they were being systematically lied to
. And that is a critical pre-condition for an oppressed people to rise up and revolt against a dictatorship of thugs. It doesn't happen overnight, but the long fuse gets lit.
In other words: Rising Expectations of the proletarian.
[I gotta interrupt and tell you: I hope you have experienced the pleasure/burden of seeing the faces of Lefties, when you lay this out to them.]
To the extent that one believes that micro- and macro-history is closely linked with Rising Expectations, the Wolfowitz Plan is simple. It is the US using military might to inject, and support, a democratic area into a despotic region. Over a long period - a generation or two - the Rising Expectations created will change the region, somewhat organically. The resulting political structures will not be carbon copies of the US, but the hegemony of despots will have been broken. And that stranglehold of despots, financed by petro dollars and continued with the use of their own Big Lie
- the scapegoating of Israel as the nefarious cause of all of the regional woes of the Arab and Muslim proles - will go away. (What about that American flag? Well, that's simple. The Jews secretly control Amerika....Amerika is a puppet of its Israeli masters.....)
The regional despots will not all go away quietly. So, make sure there are no WMD's lying around.
In any event, the Wolfowitz Plan will take time. And that realization is why Bush seems to so many on the left to be a fanatic, a God Squad zombie. The Left - who generally have no idea what the Wolfowitz Plan is - see religious fervor.
I see something else. I see a guy who realizes that it will be 10, 20 or 40 years from now before the results of his actions will become apparent. I see a guy who realizes that the short-term opposition and political squabbling is absolutely part of his undertaking a paradigmatic shift. (If it wasn't such a brilliant strategic paradigm shift, there would be no opposition! How ironic that the opposition, in Bush's mind, is a sign that he will be proven correct.) The Kennedy's (the dead ones, that is) would have seen it the same way; it isn't a Dem vs. Publican issue.
Telling people with gnat-like attention spans that the Wolfowitz Plan will play out well, in a generation, is like telling your zit-faced teenager that he'll laugh about it in 20 years. The teenager simply has no frame of reference. Thus, your words are insane babble.
David Brooks uses different terminology today in his excellent NY Times
column, but otherwise blends Rising Expectation theory with - gasp! - "regional democracy" happy-talk in the Mideast. (I like Brooks' careful, considered and correct use of the work "powerful." Power in the physical sense means, "transformative." Perfect, perfect words and thoughts.)
This is the most powerful question in the world today: Why not here? People in Eastern Europe looked at people in Western Europe and asked, Why not here? People in Ukraine looked at people in Georgia and asked, Why not here? People around the Arab world look at voters in Iraq and ask, Why not here?... Wherever it is asked, people seem to feel that the rules have changed. New possibilities have opened up.
The question is being asked now in Lebanon.... 'It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.'
So now we have mass demonstrations on the streets of Beirut. ....The head of the Syrian Press Syndicate told The Times on Thursday: "There's a new world out there and a new reality. You can no longer have business as usual."
...It's amazing in retrospect to think of how much psychological resistance there is to asking this breakthrough question: Why not here? ....But if there is one soft-power gift America does possess, it is this tendency to imagine new worlds.... Things don't come out wonderfully just because some fine person asks, Why not here? But this is clearly the question the United States is destined to provoke.
Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice and Bush, Brooks is applauding you this morning, as am I.
Maybe my Hollywood dinner conversations will now result in a slower erosion of my base of Hollywood friendships. Or, at least I won't get called a f***ing Nazi so often...
***Nota bene update:
One repeated, crucial claim of the anti-war advocates was that US military action in Iraq would infuriate the "Arab Street," presumably by giving radicals a recruiting tool, and/or causing worse hatred of the U.S. among otherwise passive Arabs and Muslims. I spent many a dinner in exposition that such attitude was a non-thinking position, a sort of lazy remnant of a Leftist/collectivist education. My claim was that the speaker had been bombarded for decades with teachings that "the proletarian masses will one day rise up," etc., and had come to accept a proletarian revolution as a given. Because a Leftist is more-or-less programmed to think in such class-struggle terms - consciously or not - Leftists were and continue to be far more concerned about the "Arab Street," causally connected to their belief in, and/or hope for, the "rising up of the proletariat masses."
Some of this professed concern over the Arab Street was genuine; other concern, when properly deconstructed (with a bit of pepper and snark tossed in), really was a nagging worry that, "If a U.S. invasion doesn't result in massive uprising among the Arab proles, then perhaps this entire class-struggle paradigm is...not ever gonna happen."
In case no Leftist has noticed, as the sun sets on February 2005, there are some early and compelling signs that what the "Arab Street" really wants is....democracy.
Curse you, evil George Bush! Damned be your house, Paul Wolfowitz!