Monday, June 27, 2005

Democracy in Iraq Won't Work

It is truly amazing to me that the people we elect to guide our foreign policy have little or no knowledge of history. I would not expect our President to have read any history. Even the most ardent supporters of George Bush are coming to the realization that the man is an uneducated simpleton. He certainly has not read any Iraqi history. About the time he emerged from his years of substance abuse, someone in his father’s administration probably had to point to Iraq’s location on the map. But what is truly strange is the fact that none of the people who surround him (the real policy makers) have read history either. If any of them had read any Iraqi history or any regional history, they would have never come to the conclusion that it is possible to establish a democracy in Iraq. Let’s take a quick look at some of the historical roadblocks that should have raised large red flags in the minds of Bush’s policy makers. This attempt at establishing a (shake and bake) democracy in Iraq ignores the fact that Iraq has for thousands of years resisted the primary ingredient required for the establishment of any democracy. Political fragmentation and a resistance to a centralized government has been part of Iraqi history for thousands of years. From the beginning, (6000 B.C.) there have been three major factors that have inhibited political centralization:

  1. Iraq is an extremely threatening environment, driving its people to seek security from the extremes of nature. Throughout Iraqi history, various groups have formed autonomous, self-contained social units. Allegiance to ancient religious deities like the Shiat Ali (of party of Ali) or membership to one of a multitude of tribes was an effort to build autonomous security-providing structures. These structures have exerted a powerful influence on the direction of Iraqi culture.
  2. Iraq has a lack of stone, which historically severely hindered its ability to construct roads. As a result, many parts of the country remained beyond any government control for the majority of recorded history. Only within the last fifty years have modern roads been build to areas in Iraq that have spent thousands of years in relative isolation from the rest of the country and any type of centralized governmental control.
  3. Iraq’s geographic location is on the eastern flank of the Arab world. Iraq shares borders both nonArab Turkey and Iran. Because of Iraq’s great agricultural potential in its river valley, it has always attracted waves of ethnically diverse migrations. These migrations have repeatedly disrupted the countries internal balance and lead to deep-seated ethnic and tribal divisions.

Considering just these three historical realities, one would think that any policy maker would believe that the odds on successfully establishing a democracy would be extremely low. If you add the British colonialism beginning in 1918 and ending in 1958 to this mix, you can come to only one conclusion. Not only will a democracy not work, but any centralized government in Iraq will be difficult establish. We all thought that only one village was missing their idiot. Apparently there are a few more villages who are also missing their idiots. Unfortunately these idiots are the ones who make the policy decisions for our country.



Blogger The Progressive said...

Oh, it'll work. We'll force freedom on those Iraqis even if we have to do it against their will! Bush will compel Iraq to be a democracy whether it's what the Iraqi people want or not. Yes, it'll be hard work, but we're making progress ... we've turned the corner. You naysayers always focus on the negative in Iraq; you never mention all the good things we're doing over there.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And this comment is exactly why it won't work. It's not like democracy is a pill that we can shove down an angry kid's throat because we know in the end, the kid'll end up feeling better. Iraq seriously is not ready for an American-style democracy, not with its polarizing ethnic groups, rugged terrain, cultural dynamics, and history. In the history of forced democracies, it seems like only two have emerged stable- Japan and Germany. The rest have fizzled out (unless you want to count the Philippines as successful). If we want a liberal, stable Iraq, all we can hope for is to lay the foundation for the people to choose what they want.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and if you were being sarcastic, i apologize, hahaha, I wasn't sure

11:48 PM  

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