Democracy Isn't the Answer

By McManus, John F. | The New American, May 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Democracy Isn't the Answer


McManus, John F., The New American


The justification for the war in Iraq has morphed over time. At first it was the dangers of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), then it became a fight against terrorism. And then even terrorism in general proved to be an elusive justification for the war and its mounting casualties. The attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq have continued mainly because the Americans are looked upon as interlopers by the people placing their bombs along roadsides. They are retaliating against foreign meddling in their nation's affairs. They clearly resent the United States imposing our nation's will on them.

So, having gone from WMD threats to terrorism, the justification for the American action in Iraq has become the need to build "democracy." And democracy, according to this administration, will be achieved when people choose their own form of government and their own leaders. But what if the people decide on something harmful to themselves and dangerous to mankind? What if long-standing divisions among the people--such as religious factionalism in Iraq--result in civil war? In other words, what if democracy isn't the answer?

Last October, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice trekked all the way to Afghanistan where she expressed great delight because the nation was "now inspiring the world with its march toward democracy." The cause of her joy? Afghans had conducted an election and selected a president along with an elected parliament. But warlords still control much of the country; a high percentage of the nation's international trade is in heroin; and the reigning Islamic clerics remain determined to execute anyone who abandons the Muslim faith for some other belief. Isn't democracy wonderful!

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Bush gushed about "the dramatic progress of a new democracy" in Iraq. Yes, the Iraqi people voted to choose a new government with a new leader under a new constitution. But, in the absence of a strong government that could control internecine animosities, the Shiites began warring with the Sunnis, and the Kurds remain waiting in the wings to take control when the other two factions exhaust themselves. Also, Shiites and Sunnis each harbor resentment because the United States is looked upon as favoring their adversary. So American military personnel are still getting picked off two, three, or ten at a time. Isn't it a bit absurd to be lauding democracy in Iraq?

Democracy, as America's Founding Fathers well knew, is an invitation to chaos and eventual tyranny. The men who created this nation knew the results of the democracies in the pre-Christian Greek city states, and they were horrified at what democracy had produced. …

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