Unified Patriots by Vassarbushmills
Ever hear the rally cry, “Remember the Maine!” How about “yellow journalism”? Well, they were fathered by the same men, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, of “Citizen Kane” fame. Both were newspaper publishers, and also Democrat congressmen. Hearst even ran for president.
Their newspaper chains had been pushing for war against the Spanish Empire in the western hemisphere since the people of Cuba had risen up against Spain in 1895, citing the Monroe Doctrine as sufficient legal justification to drive the Spanish out. Hence was born “yellow journalism”. (I just thought you should know its pedigree.)
In January 1898, the battleship USS Maine, laying at anchor in Havana Harbor, blew up. A mine they rushed to say. And the jingo-cry “Remember the Maine” headlined Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers coast-to-cost and America was suddenly at war. And we quickly drove the Spanish out of the hemisphere.
And we also relieved the Spanish of their Asian possessions as well, for which the people of the Philippines are largely grateful, in part because the United States kept its word about when, how, and in what condition, we would hand the islands back over to civilian control, in just over 40 years. (A world record by imperialist standards.) Wobbly at times, the Republic of Philippines is still a functioning democracy after 70 years.
Now, the logical leap here, considering the obvious similarities between the run-up to the war in Cuba and the yellow journalism of the modern media in trying to stir public sentiment about a looming war with North Korea, would be to conclude that this is the subject of my discussion here.
It isn’t, in part because the entire North Korea war-drum beat today is a canard, only today the American media knows it while the jingo-media of 1898 didn’t, for it was another 80 years before it was determined that the Maine likely blew from accumulated coal gas in the power plants. If viewed in the cold light of day, war with North Korea isn’t looming at all, and those who aren’t glued to jingo headlines know it.
But after that war, we turned Cuba over to its own devices, while we occupied the Philippines. Now we didn’t exactly do a bang up job in the Philippines, but Cuba fared much worse going it alone, as has virtually every other Latin American democracy, almost all of which were products of either Spanish or Portuguese administrations for over 250 years.
In 2003, I sat down in the Staked Plains of the Texas Panhandle with an old Russia hand who also had had a great deal of experience in the Middle East. (I met him in the Moscow McDonalds in 1991, before the Fall.) In a long, rambling exposition he laid out his theory as to why American-style democracy could succeed in the Middle East and why no other democracy model could.
Paul Bremer was in charge in Iraq at the time, and the Iraqis were about to have their first election. And Bush and Bremer were doing it wrong, Moses Sands said.
(I abridged that long piece and republished it at RedState in 2010, and then in book form along with some other essays on the Middle East at the start of Arab Spring in 2011, at Amazon.com.)
The premise of his argument, which I’ve held to religiously ever since, is that since America was created from the bottom-up, only an American model of government can cause the people of another country to turn against their old ways, from tribalism to top-down local government models, by building new institutions from the bottom-up. Existing institutions at the tribal and local level, which Bremer tried to build on, generally work against the individual citizen from pursuing his own life and liberty with his House as the foundation.
As an occupying conqueror in Iraq we had a duty to try to change that.
Iraq never had a chance[…]