At dinner with another former communist last night we discussed how the current global situation was truly revolutionary and how strange it was to live in a world where America was exporting that revolution. Of course, is a point that both critics and supporters of ‘regime change’ have made frequently – there is indeed something very Bolshevik about the way in which armed force was used to overthrow the Iraqi dictatorship and how ‘Free Iraq’ is to be presented a ‘beacon’ to the middle east in the hope that the masses in other countries will be inspired to rise up and overthrow their own oppressors.
The Trotskyist background of some of the US neo-cons has been used to highlight this enthusiasm for global revolution in Washington, but watching George Bush’s speech to Iraqi-Americans in Detriot on the television after dinner, another element of the Bolshevik tradition came to mind.
As Bush spoke was almost choreographed rising to applause from the audience, with the ethnic diversity of Iraq reflected in the head-scarved women and men with turbans set behind Bush. My friend turned to me: “This almost Soviet,” he said.
Within a minute Bush uttered this line: “We are working toward an Iraq where electrical power is reliable and widely available. Power plant by power plant, more Iraqis are getting the electricity they need,” he said. How Soviet can you get? I was just waiting for the latest figures on the wheat harvest.
We had a bit of a chuckle at all this, but then this morning I checked out the White House text of the speech and could barely believe me eyes. Just as in those collections of Stalin speeches, the words of the leader had been punctuated with the responses of the crowd.
Whether you’re Sunni or Shia or Kurd or Chaldean or Assyrian or Turkoman or Christian or Jew or Muslim — (applause) — no matter what your faith, freedom is God’s gift to every person in every nation. (Applause.) As freedom takes hold in Iraq, the Iraqi people will choose their own leaders and their own government. America has no intention of imposing our form of government or our culture. Yet, we will ensure that all Iraqis have a voice in the new government and all citizens have their rights protected. (Applause.)
In the city of An Nasiriyah, where free Iraqis met recently to discuss the political future of their country, they issued a statement beginning with these words: Iraq must be democratic. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: USA! USA! USA! (Applause.)
Then I read this
Ok, Ok, before some of you go mad, I’m not suggesting George Bush is in any way similar to the mass murderer Stalin. But the style and indeed much of the substance of the propaganda is remarkably similar.
You and I both know that Iraq can realize those hopes. Iraq can be an example of peace and prosperity and freedom to the entire Middle East. (Applause.) It’ll be a hard journey, but at every step of the way, Iraq will have a steady friend in the American people. (Applause.)
May God continue to bless the United States of America, and long live a free Iraq. (Applause.)
Long live our fraternal parties! (Prolonged applause.)
May the leaders of our fraternal parties live and flourish! (Prolonged applause.)
Long live peace among nations! (Prolonged applause.)
Update: This is all rather silly I know but a reader sent these quotes in:
“If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.” J.V Stalin
“The Iraqi regime will disarm itself or the Iraqi regime will be disarmed” GW Bush