Instead of disappearing from the public eye and hoping his collaboration with Iraq’s invaders would be forgotten, Brandeis University professor Kanan Makiya still has the audacity to run his mouth on Arab affairs. He recently spoke at Missouri State University about the ongoing Arab revolts, dictatorship and autonomy.
Makiya’s speech, titled “The Fall of the Dictators: What’s Next?,” which was presented in [Missouri State University’s] Plaster Student Union, provided a look into the similarities and differences between the various protests spreading throughout the Middle East. It was sponsored by the Middle Eastern studies program.
A close friend to Ahmad Chalabi and believer that Chalabi could’ve been Iraq’s Nelson Mandela, Makiya has played an prominent House Arab role that contributed to the humanitarian and ecological devastation of an entire country. He had told George W. Bush that Iraq’s invaders would be greeted with sweets and flowers. He made an infamous statement about Shock and Awe: “those bombs are music to my ears.” Makiya wrote in the Guardian about a month before the Iraq war:
Are the enemies of a democratic Iraq, the ‘anti-imperialists’ and ‘anti-Zionists’ of the Arab world, the supporters of ‘armed struggle’, and the upholders of the politics of blaming everything on the US who are dictating the agenda of the anti-war movement in Europe and the US, are all of these people to be proved right?
The anti-imperialists, anti-Zionists and anti-war movement were eventually proven right after all. A million Iraqi corpses later, Makiya has been attempting damage control to salvage what’s left of his legitimacy.
True, I underestimated the self-centeredness and sectarianism of the Iraqi ruling elite put in power by U.S. military action in 2003.
I never imagined the breathtaking incompetence of the American occupation.
Everything [the Americans] could do wrong, they did wrong.
Too little too late.
It is remarkable to note how influential House Arabs think they are. They imagine that once they tell the slavemaster what s/he wants to hear they’ll actually have say in how the master runs the show. Makiya was one of many self-deluded House Arabs who thought that lending an Iraqi face to the invasion of Iraq would entitle him to tell the US how far it should go.
“I did not want to see the United States micromanage Iraqi affairs because, I feared, that is where things might go wrong,”
Makiya is not alone in these self-serving delusions of grandeur. He is one of numerous other pro-war House Arabs who advocated for war against their home country only to realize later they were used by the US. For example, Husham Al-Husainy, who had led pro-war protests in 2002 and 2003, complained a mere two months into the occupation:
“This is insulting,” said Imam Husham al-Husainy, an Iraqi Shiite leader who runs the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Detroit, which is aligned with the Supreme Council on Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a group that is based in Iran and has so far kept at arm’s length from the American government-building effort.
“We don’t follow others,” Imam Husainy said in dismissing as “yes men” the members of the Pentagon-assembled team. “Where is the democracy if you’re just dictating our ideas? That’s not democracy. Don’t impose it on us.”
After having cheered for the war, Al-Husainy changed his mind:
I think the policy of the Pentagon is not wise … They don’t listen … The words go in one ear and out the other.
Ali Allawi, who has known Makiya since college, described Makiya, Al-Husainy and their ilk best:
Ahmad Chalabi, Kanan Makiya, all of these people became media stars, but their influence on decision making was next to nothing. I can’t believe that a person like Wolfowitz or Cheney or whoever it was in the neocon cabal would allow themselves to be manipulated in this way. They are far too cynical. They have their own agendas. And these agendas were boosted by Iraqis who seemed to be singing from the same song sheet. The Iraqis gave them credibility, gave them substance. But I don’t think they were influenced by them.
Collaborators like Makiya and Al-Husainy damage the Arab-American community’s political standing here and contribute to the death and displacement of millions overseas. On a moral level, they encourage them to adopt subservience to the empire and to turn a blind eye to atrocities the US commits against their brethren. They make the argument that it is acceptable to align with the empire if its interests coincide with their own. They make it appear palatable to suspend morality and to ignore the empire’s vicious history. These types should be tried by the Iraqi families who lost loved ones to the war. Until then, they ought to ikhras.