From the December 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 12)

The Way out of Iraq

Hegemony of Ideology and Stupidity

Hazem Saghieh, Al-Hayat (pan-Arab), London, England, Oct. 2, 2003

Iraqi Shiite leader Abbas Mosawi leads a demonstration in Sadr City, Baghdad, Aug. 13, 2003 (Photo: Sabah Arar/AFP-Getty Images).
Arab countries, inside and outside the United Nations, want to hasten the departure of America from Iraq and to expand the U.N.’s role there. France, Germany, and Russia want a “central” role, not only a “vital” one, for the U.N. in Iraq. All this is fantastic. But the U.N. proceeded with its departure from Iraq. Why? Because the [Iraqi] resistance and the crimes it is committing against the U.N. are driving the organization away.

Is there anyone in the Arab world who condemns the resistance? No. God forbid. So there are actually two voices: one praising the resistance and the other asking for the U.N., which the resistance is hunting. Unfortunately, the United States, whatever we think of its political leadership, cannot deal seriously with those parties that oppose its role, and in fact those parties do not weaken America; they actually strengthen it.

At the same time, Iran and the European Union countries should be getting closer now with respect to Iraq and the American presence there. Yet Iran’s rejection of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s demands and inspections creates doubt in Tehran, and Europe has resorted to threatening the Islamic Republic with the prospect of severing economic ties.

Iran is doing the exact opposite of what the United States has done: While Washington wanted to fight Saddam Hussein, it opened a political front against the Iranians. Among other things, this policy deepened the mistrust between America and the Iraqi Shiites, who are being described, and rightfully so, as the ones holding the key to Iraq. Yet when Tehran wanted to confront the United States in Iraq, it found itself clashing with Europe.

These are some of the expressions of the hegemony of ideology over politics, which has been manifest in an unprecedented manner since the end of the Cold War. Everybody is investing as much effort as possible to achieve his own self-destruction. This is true in the East, where it takes the form of love of resistance of all kinds, and in the West, where it is embodied in the obsessive hatred for terrorism.

As these expressions of hegemony play themselves out, the ink has not yet dried on Francis Fukuyama’s pages describing the end of history and the death of ideology. Just a reminder: Fukuyama himself has become a neoconservative, or is about to become one. This is why it is hard to welcome the United States back into UNESCO, the world’s leading cultural and educational institution. To some degree there is relief that 19 years of severed relations between that institution and the United States have come to an end.

The return of the United States may save UNESCO, which is financially bankrupt, and UNESCO, under American pressure, has been forced to restrain the worst of its Third World characteristics, such as corruption, nepotism, and inefficiency. But Laura Bush’s speech in Paris sought to convince us that the only cultural and educational mission worldwide is fighting terrorism. Once again, it is the hegemony of the ideological. Hence, the hegemony of stupidity is the shortest road to “gaining” a collective loss [suicide bombers].

With his policy of fighting terror, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in fact fueling it, and with every military “gain” against the Israelis, the Intifada is even further from establishing its goal of a Palestinian state.

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