Sunday, February 17, 2008
On this note, here is a headline from yesterday's New York Times: US Struggles to Tutor Iraqis in Rule of Law. You can forget the fact, if you like, that the US actually built up the present Iraqi administration almost from scratch, populated its departments with personnel from sectarian parties and death squads, parcelled out power on a sectarian-cum-patrimonial basis, drove a sectarian constitution, etc etc, and therefore any problems that 'Iraqis' might be having with the 'rule of law' are entirely down to the occupiers. That confounding hypocisy is now so typical, it's stereotypical. But so is the ideological structure into which it fits. I have not the time now, but - knowing the kinds of dreck I've just sighed over and tried to put out of my mind - I am certain that a careful sifting through the American press coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan over the last six years or so would yield dozens, if not hundreds of examples of this kind of colonial ideological pattern. The fact that this ideology is now professionalised through organisations like the NED and IRI, and that it has a professionalised lingo to boot - oh, you can imagine, 'exporting democracy', 'training country x in democratic practises', 'tutoring so-and-so in the rule of law', as if it was all a matter of step-by-step technocratic exercises rather than a pitch for hegemony - means that it has a faintly neutral air, despite its its invidious assumption that self-government is a cultural rather than political state. That is, of course, on purpose - but it shouldn't stop us from noticing the pedigree.