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Revolutions: Lessons learned

Post by Judy Hauser on Feb. 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
February 12, 2011 12:58 pm

Until a few days ago, “Revolution” was something I put on my dog once a month to ward off fleas. But, as Egyptians took to the streets to overthrow their 30-year dictator, “revolution” took on a meaning not seen since the Patriots thumbed their noses at King George III.

Most of us who sat through sixth grade social studies have an inkling about what was at the heart of the American Revolution. Any revolution, for that matter. But, there are those who think a revolution can be cooked up by a well-groomed think tank in Washington DC.

Such was the thinking of the White House Iraq War Group (WHIG) formed in August, 2002, a neoconservative group whose sole purpose was to sell an invasion of Iraq to the American people.

This real-life Mad Men marketing arm of the Bush White House waited a whole month before pitching its hard sell of regime change in Iraq. In a New York Time’s interview, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card explained the wait: “From a marketing point of view,” he said, “you don’t introduce new products in August.”

Note to Andrew Card, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and any other neocons writing your memoirs while rewriting history: What happened in Iraq was not a revolution. Revolutions come from a place far from your think tanks and your doctrines and your manicured nails.

For years, you’ve searched for ways to wash your hands of guilt for spending the lives of 4,400 American soldiers and an untold number of Iraqi civilians. In his uncomplicated memoir, “Decision Points,” Mr. Bush says, “Nobody was lying. We were all wrong.”  But, that’s as close as we’re going to get to an apology.

In his memoir, “Known and Unknown,” Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t simply lay the blame for the misguided invasion and the chaos that followed at the feet of others.  His memoir’s title reminds us of the twisted logic behind the Iraq invasion, as he once explained to a reporter’s question about evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and 9/11:

“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

We’re still waiting for Dick Cheney’s memoir.

Now, in the wake of Egypt’s Revolution, you imagine grand parallels between “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and Egypt’s revolution. With a successful transition between Egypt’s revolt and a democratic state, it won’t be long before you imagine that you were the real heroes behind the newly-evolving democracy.

Your old pal, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer is already singing your praises. Or, perhaps he’s still just cleaning up after you. He writes that, while the loathsome “left spent the better part of the Bush years excoriating [your] freedom agenda as … another sordid example of U.S. imperialism,” that you, “George W. Bush, Tony Blair and a band of neocons” dared challenge the notion that Arabs were “allergic to democracy.”

Some challenge. Nothing like bombers over Bagdad to challenge a notion.

Your notion of a people’s revolution was something you coined, “Shock and Awe,” a massive aerial and ground assault meant to destroy the Iraqi will to fight, after which you, predicted, our soldiers would be greeted as liberators.

Parallel that to Egypt’s revolutionaries — unarmed Egyptians demanding dignity, holding their ground and their square as some of them were mowed down by government-hired thugs. They got their dignity the old fashioned way. They earned it. They earned it, not behind the shock and awe of your big guns, but from deep within the grit of their own hearts.

Now, that’s a revolution.

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