The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Postmodernist Michael Young: The Bush Administration Did Not Happen

Michael Young is at his best and most entertaining when he polemicizes in the Now – he is at his worst when he tries to delve into historical and academic terrain.

So it was fun when, in the midst of belittling critics of Kissinger and critics of foreign conspiracies (which are and have been many in the region), Young has this to say:

“…When you hear the words “new Middle East,” you know someone is thinking of the George W. Bush years and the alleged plot to reshape the region in America’s image, of which the Iraq war was a centerpiece…”

Two problems here to remember when reading Young – he almost ALWAYS raises his own conspiracy theory which Syria (and Iran) are invariably behind! Even the smallest unrest over the past 6 years have some kind of Syrian hand behind it for Young. Take a look at the columns and I challenge you to find one where he is discussing an unrest event in Lebanon and Syria is somehow not behind/benifiting from it!

This is interesting because Young is so often merely the flip side of those who he criticizes – he actually practices the same form of thought but with a mirror opposite content. And he cannot see how that is an essential problem in his epistemology.

Second point is on Iraq. He clarifies:

“…Nothing that the Bush administration did in Iraq after that period contradicted American fears of a sectarian breakdown. Yes, there was a battle in Baghdad between the Sunni and Shia communities, but the ethnic cleansing that ensued was not the fruit of an American stratagem. In fact, had the US wanted to split Iraq apart, it would not have played such an essential role in assisting Baghdad to re-impose its writ over Sunni areas, above all Anbar province, in collaboration with the Awakening Councils. Nor would it have attempted to find a solution between Kurds and Arabs over the disputed city of Kirkuk…”

— Notice, as always, the most illiberal use of the word NOTHING/never/none…. Young’s is almost ALWAYS a totalizing form of thought… sadly like so many of those who he regularly criticizes.

— Also note that Young misses the essential point on US efforts in Iraq: the Bush administration OF COURSE wanted to keep Iraq unified as long as it was following along with US interests. It strove to bend a unified and therefore more powerful state (and a state less susceptible to Iranian moves) towards the preferred Bush path in the region. This effort has largely failed it seems. BUT this preferred version of Iraq was a part of wedging the region as a whole, dividing and breaking down those actors and forces opposed to US power and interests.

This was one of the primary, oft stated, goals of the Iraq adventure – not necessarily a divided Iraq within itself but a Middle East where “our enemies” were wedged by multiple, competing currents breaking them down.

Instead, this strategy ended up wedging us and most of our “allies!”

Young and the other Neo-LiberalCons think that this happened because we went sissy on the region, whereas others, myself included, think this is limosine neo-liberalconism and a failed strategy for the mideast.

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

October 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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