Dear Robin

Posted by sepoy on May 16, 2004 · 4 mins read

You are a good journalist. You have been to the Middle East, to Iran, to all the other "hot spots". I usually agree with your articles and you are one of the better talking heads on MSNBC. So, when I saw your piece in today's WaPo [r.r.] entitled Turning Points: Will the Modern Era Come Undone in Iraq?, I clicked on it immediately.
Girl. You need some happy pills.

The stakes in Iraq -- for which the Abu Ghraib prison has tragically become the metaphor -- are not just the future of a fragile oil-rich country or America's credibility in the world, even among close allies. The issues are not simply whether the Pentagon has systemic problems or whether Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Pentagon brass or even the Bush administration can survive The Pictures. And the costs are not merely the billions from the U.S. Treasury to foot the Iraq bills today or the danger that Mideast oil becomes a political weapon during tumultuous days down the road.
The stakes are instead how the final phase of the Modern Era plays out .
That 500-year period, marked by the age of exploration, the creation of nations and the Enlightenment that unleashed ideologies designed to empower the individual, faces its last great challenge in the 50 disparate countries that constitute the Islamic world -- ruled by the last bloc of authoritarian monarchs, dictators and leaders-for-life. The Iraq war was supposed to produce a new model for democratic transformation, a catalyst after which the United States and its allies could launch an ambitious initiative for regional change.
But now, whatever America's good intentions may have been , that historic moment may be lost for a long time to come.[emphasis added]

Say what? End of Enlightenement? You think this will "also spur an intense clash of civilizations, a prospect I had until very recently rejected. "? Wow. Not you too!
Iraq war was stupidly launched. Iraq war was stupidly managed. Iraq war will generate hundreds more terrorist wanna-be playas. I agree with all those whole-heartedly. But, to say that the Project of Enlightenement itself will perish!? I have news for you, Ms. Wright. The Project of Enlightenement is gasping for breath in the United States, itself. Your President talks to God. Your Congress fears Gay Union will end Civilization. Your country is holding hundreds of people without any recourse to legal aid and in extreme duress. It incarcerates more people than any other society on the planet. Racial or sexual equality is still a "goal" for the society. Your last election was stolen by a junta. I mean, I can go on here but you get the picture. Don't start crying about this precious Enlightenement that launched the Modern Era and will perish because of some Arab tyrannts. You want to save a clash of civilization? One clue: It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How about we try a whole new appoach? How about we stop messing with the progress of Modern Era by upholding dictators and commanding policy? How about we actually try to give Palestinians a homeland and aid to build a society after 60 years? How about we let Islamic governments be Islamic governments and not think that all theocracies are created equal. Because, the truth is Robin, there are many Enlightenements and many Modern Eras. The one being exported by the barrel of a gun in Iraq is not gonna be the one the Iraqis live with in 2 years or 5. They will construct their own.
So, please, be hopeful. Make your government answer to its people. Let the Iraqis answer to themselves.