Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Initial Essay on All This

Here's a 2,300-word, anti-Iraq War essay I wrote for The Stranger back in October 2002, during President Bush's run up to the war. (At the time, it was overshadowed by Savage's pro-war sidebar.)

The intro wasn't my best writing. It was too dramatic with hostility toward bin Laden and al Qaeda (oh wells). But the program I eventually started laying out was on point. It begins:

There's a much more logical and honest (and urgent) way to proceed against terrorism. Let's promote democratic reforms in the real linchpins of the region: Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. And I'm not talking about Radio Free Europe broadcasts--an imprecise, hit or miss Cold War tactic waged against our enemies. I'm talking about a direct American campaign for democracy (and women's rights!) in the Middle East aimed at our suspect allies. In short, we have more than radio waves to influence the likes of Cairo and Riyadh. We've got dollars, business investments, and political relationships. Let's get tough, and demand changes from our friends; demands backed with the threat of pulling our support.

Real democratic change in the Middle East will rip the rug from under the randy demagogues with guns and websites who prey on the disenfranchised populations in undemocratic countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Fittingly, these countries are also central to the growth of bin Laden's movement in a way that Iraq is not. (The majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia; and al Qaeda's leap from motley crew to sophisticated force was made possible by its alliance with longtime Egyptian radicals such as mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri and his huge Egyptian underground movement.)

Securing sweeping democratic reforms in Egypt and the rest of the aforementioned list of Middle Eastern nations will produce the overdue death knell of bin Ladenism, something attacking Iraq surely won't achieve.

The first order of business in an American campaign for Middle Eastern democracy is...

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