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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Democracy is Messy

posted by Ron Beasley at 2/24/2005 01:37:00 PM


"The best worst laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft a-gley,
And leave us naught but grief and pain
For promised joy."
Robert Burns

Juan Cole has a commentary in The LA Times today, The Downside of Democracy, where he discusses that freedom and democracy in Iraq are not producing what the neocons had in mind. Anyone who had even one foot in the world of reality could have predicted that the "freedom" the Iraqis want does not resemble the "freedom" Bush and the neocons had in mind. They are learning that Rumsfeld was right about at least one thing, "Democracy in Messy".
With the emergence of Shiite physician Ibrahim Jafari as the leading candidate for Iraqi prime minister earlier this week, the contradictions of Bush administration policy in the Middle East have become even clearer than they were before.

President Bush says he is committed to democratizing the region, yet he also wants governments to emerge that are friendly to the U.S., benevolent to their own people, secular, capitalist and willing to stand up and fight against anti-American radicals.

But what if democratic elections do not produce such governments? What if the newly elected regimes are friendly to states and groups that Washington considers enemies? What if the spread of democracy through the region empowers elements that don't share American values and goals?
Well it looks like we are about to find out.
The recent election in Iraq is a case in point. The two major parties in the victorious Shiite alliance are Jafari's party, the Dawa, founded in the late 1950s to work for an Islamic republic, and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, the goal of which can be guessed from its name. To be fair, both have backed away from their more radical stances of earlier decades. But both parties - and Jafari himself - were sheltered in Tehran in the 1980s by Washington's archenemy, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and both acknowledge that they want to move Iraq toward Islamic law and values.
The neocons showed that they were totally divorced from reality when they thought that a freely elected government in the middle east would produce a pro western, pro Israel government. So how will the Bush administration react to what can only be described as setbacks?
Are such outcomes acceptable to the Bush administration? If not, how will it respond? Given the war on terror, it is unlikely to simply take these electoral setbacks lying down.

But if Washington falls back on its traditional responses - covert operations, attempts to interfere in parliamentary votes with threats or bribes, or dependence on strong men like Musharraf - the people of the Middle East might well explode, because the only thing worse than living under a dictatorship is being promised a democracy and then not really getting it.

From Middle Earth Journal