Monday, April 17, 2006

"Muscular Multiculturalism"

Daneil Larison critiques this article by Rich Lowry.

What is interesting is that when I first heard the phrase "muscular multiculturalism," I assumed he was referring to the need to force the different sects and ethnic groups in Iraq to give up their particularisms in favor of unity. That is, the need, if we are to have a unified Iraq, to forcibly suppress all of the cultural differntces and/or animosities between the different factions.

Although Lowry was actually discussing our need to know more about other cultures (although, as Dan points out, such a policy is somewhat contrary to war-hawks' goals, as understanding of foreign cultures might make us more humble about what we can accomplish by intervening in them), the policy I thought he was advocating is, in fact, the policy that some hawks actually promote.

One of my nemeses, Babara Lerner, wrote an article a while back that insisted that the mix of people in Iraq made it easier to democratize, as a diverse society has more competing interests so no interest will have enough power by itself to form a tyranny. This, of course, is BS. Democratizing a country is actually made easier by homogeneity, as the people have a motivation to work together and not against one another. Of course, that homogenous populace must consist of people who want a liberal society, so homogeneity does not insure democracy, but it makes it more likely than heterogeneity, aka "diversity." In this context, "muscular multiculturalism," if it meant "multiculturalism imposed at gunpoint" would probably require a great deal of "imposition at gunpoint," indeed.

Of course, Lerner doesn't really want "democracy." She wants Chalabi in charge:

Bush and Rice are right to champion democracy; they are wrong to insist that support for democracy automatically translates into support for elections. In reality, supporting democracy in the Middle East means supporting democrats there, the way we supported democrats like Walesa, Havel, Sakharov, Bukovsky, and Sharansky during the Cold War. In countries where such men speak for substantial numbers of their fellows as Walesa and Havel did, it makes sense to press for elections. In countries where they are more akin to lone voices, crying in the wilderness, it does not.

Which is another way of saying "democracy means puppet government." And the person she wants as the puppet is, of course, Ahmad Chalabi (whether he will actually be a puppet is another matter).

But I digress. The point is, "muscular multiculturalism" is one of those phrases, like "our ally, Ahmad Chalabi," or "good news from Iraq," which should set off one's stercustaurimeter.

That is all.

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