Tales of White Men’s Burden

Brandon Friedman has an excellent post on Daily Kos

Now that the British military has all but left southern Iraq, the International Herald Tribune is reporting that violence has fallen by 90 percent in Basra—Iraq’s second largest city.  

Here’s why it’s happening:

The thing you have to understand about an occupation like the one in Iraq, is that much of the violence results from the unrest that occurs when people have no sense of a permanent presence of authority.  At the risk of going completely unscientific here, it’s like a class that won’t behave for a substitute teacher.  The people have no need to please or respect the occupier, because they know that ultimately, that occupier will give way to a more long-term power.

In such a situation—where there is no sense of permanent authority—dozens and dozens of groups vie for power.  They all want to end up being that more long-term power.  And their agendas are varied—as are their methods for causing trouble.

I recommend reading the whole post. His observations are consistent with Robert Pape’s conclusions after many years of studying suicide terrorism. To make a long story short, the key ingredient necessary for suicide terrorism to manfest is an external dominating power whose culture is at odds with those under their domination.

The UK and USA would fit that bill.

Friedman goes on to smack down the common talking point that goes “if we leave Iraq, a bloodbath will follow.” Just like Basra. Not!

At the core of this talking point are two things.

First, and most obvious, is the unbridled scare tactic involved. It’s a variation on that infamous National Lampoon cover of some thirty five years or so past, where a dog has a pistol to its head and the cover announces “Buy This Magazine or We’ll Shoot This Dog!”

Stay the course or they’ll blow the place up.

Second is the equally unbridled racism. The narrative goes something like this: White folks are civilized; everybody else is a savage. You can dress them up, let them earn doctorates, but deep down, left to themselves, they’ll just kill and kill because they don’t know any better.

White folks have been telling tales like this for many centuries. Especially after they’ve messed things up big time for the people they’re talking about.

Try this on. Tonya Harding didn’t get to give a critique of Nancy Kerrigan’s skating. Bobble heads on cable and Sunday a.m. talk shows shouldn’t get to spew their white man’s burden tales.

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