Charles Again

As I mentioned previously, a blog commentator, Charles, had some brilliant insights. Here is his most brilliant one, which I have already put into my "enlightenment" document:

OK, let me finally say how I imagine the old world view they have lived in might be influencing Maha and Rana,

Baathist totalitarianism, like all totalitarianisms, did not just say, “nyah, nyah, we leaders will grind you people under our heels forever and you can’t do anything about it!” They said, things are hard now because we are in a struggle, but all your collective sacrifice will someday lead to a wonderful utopia (vague and untested) where Arabs are powerful, respected, and free (i.e., unconstrained as a ‘people,’ dignity uncompromised); while those leering, almost supernaturally evil, zionist and colonialist forces now opposing us will have vanished from the earth. This is the background promise always being pushed off into the future (communism’s ever receding future lead eventually to disillusionment).

Well Saddam claimed that his wars were the first phases in a push to achieve the dream. Rana and Maha saw that death and destruction came from this. They knew that Saddam was excessive in sacrificing lives and people and was cruel. They saw that other nations (the UN) said one could not justify war of aggression. They conceded this simple point, as the Europeans have, “thou shall not kill to rearrange the world.” But that doesn’t mean the supposed dream goal looked bad to them. Or that they had adopted a western world view.

Then we come riding in, seemingly led by Paul to rearrange the world by force, but for our own dream goals. They say, hey, if you’re going to allow this sort of thing, then why shouldn’t our vision of an ideal future have been allowed to be reached this way. We are not saying that we should be allowed to do that, but better us than you! Saddam is out of their lives, and they aren’t unhappy about that, but their “background mental universe” is not out of their lives.

When we argue back about “why its OK for us” we argue the content of our vision. Good if we can convince them, but a world view shift is a messy and slow thing, our ideas are too linked together, and it seems as if everything might crumble before we build up a new set of links. People don’t want to assume that “everything” they know is false, and it isn’t, but only those who embrace such a feeling can make the jump quickly. Anyway, they don’t necessarily dislike the content of the vague dream which was promised by Baathists, even though they may have disliked the reality of daily life under Baathists.

So, before getting into arguing about the worth of our (less vague and more tested) dream, I’d reply to them in these terms: It is not all about our goals being “better” so therefore we are allowed to use force: we were forced into having to use force. I think Ken said it very well when he said at root this was a continuation of the 1991 war at the end of which the rest of the UN left us “holding the bag.” Think of it this way. When Saddam unleashed his push to achieve dominance, he chose his terms of engagement with the world.

I wish I had grabbed Charles's contact details while he was around. It was news to me that Saddam wasn't just going "nyah nyah".

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