Last evening on Bill Moyer's Journal the title line of this post was said by one of his two guests who were discussing the refugee crisis in the Middle East caused by Iraqi refugees seeking asylum in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Journalist George Packer said, "...we're talking about the return of real politic. This is the final, I think, defeat of the Bush Project for the Middle East. We're talking about the only way that we can begin to secure our interests is by cutting deals with regimes that we don't like."
Packer and Deborah Amos of NPR have both spent many years in the Middle East and brought their expertise to the program.
Packer was answering the Moyer's question: "But arching over everything was the neo-conservative conviction that we were going to see the birth pains of democracy in the region you two cover. Are what you're talking about the birth pains of democracy?"
Both guests journalists, Packer and Amos, painted a stark picture of that region of the world and an even more dismal one of Iraq itself. Both told the same story: Iraq has 'lost' two million people who fled the situation created by the preemptive invasion. But wait, they cautioned, these refugees are not like the ones we see fleeing Darfur: these are upper to middle class Iraqis, the doctors, the engineers, the intellectuals, the bureaucrats- the people who are needed to run a society. They are gone and most will not return.
Not only is the loss a problem for Iraq but the refugees are a major problem for the Syrians, Lebanese and Jordanian governments. Their budgets are breaking trying to provide for these refugees. Parker warns that the refugees are unemployed there and are ripe targets for extremist fundamentalist recruiters. Both the refugees and their hosts are becoming more and more radicalized against America because of the war.
Moyers then turned to Iran and asked both journalists what they were hearing among the people in that region about the drumbeat of war with Iran. Parker said, "And the irony is the only country in the Middle East that has a genuine grass roots democratic and even secular movement is our number one enemy, Iran. That country has a-- a movement every bit as promising as what we saw in Eastern Europe and in other countries. And-- and yet we're almost at war with Iran. And I think if we do go to war with Iran it will set that movement back 30 years."
Amos said, " I can assure you that there is a rising anxiety level in the places I've just come back from, Beirut, Damascus, Amman, about the possibility of a war. And it's back. I mean, I've been going regularly. And it receded for a while. And I feel like people are much more anxious than they were just a few months ago."
The most stark prediction was said in the closing statement of George Parker. He warned, "What I fear is it will happen overnight. We will wake up one morning and discover that we have begun bombing targets inside Iran. And so there won't be a chance for all of the-- questions about war with Iran. What do you do afterward? You know, what-- what-- what do we do to protect our-- our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan from Iranian reprisals? What about Israel? Those questions have to be talked about now. But unlike Iraq this could happen very quickly. And it will be too late once those questions start getting asked."
Too late. Exactly, too late. But that is exactly how despots operate. They need no input, no advice because they know exactly what they want to 'accomplish.' To hell with the citizens after all, they are but mere pawns in the Grand Scheme.