Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Iraq Is About Democracy Stupid

The Times UK has an article today by Amir Taheri, which focuses on what’s at stake in Iraq and why it is very important that democracy succeeds. It’s very much worth the read:


At a time when the anti-war movement has gained a new spokesperson who is being covered in heaping doses by the media and the polls show an all time low for support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I say it’s a good time to review what Iraq is all about and whether you think it is in fact worthy of support.

The fundamental question in the debate on whether Iraq is worth more American blood and more American money, has to start with the question, “what is Iraq about” and “what value does the goal have”? Well for me reading Thari’s article brings home my position on what Iraq is about and the value to be gained. “It’s about democracy, stupid!

Regardless of why we launched Operation Freedom, the reality is that we are in Iraq trying to help the Iraqis form a democracy. No WMD have been found and some will say that the democracy goal is a fall back position that is put forward because the original justification did not prove true. There is certainly a degree of fairness to that argument, but I don’t see how it affects the reality being in Iraq and the goal of democracy for Iraq. I don’t see how finding no WMD has any affect on what we are currently trying to accomplish. The question of “should have we gone” to me is another debate that is completely separate from the “should we leave” debate.

Those who don’t support Operation Iraqi Freedom will completely disagree and argue that the war is unjust maybe even illegal and because it was based on intelligence that has not proven to be completely accurate to this point, we should not have gone and now must leave. Again that’s a long and deserving debate but I personally don’t see it fitting into the here and now. The here and now is assisting the Iraqi people form a democracy that will ensure freedoms and liberties that they have never known.

Somehow almost a side item at times to the reporting of the deaths and bombings, the core element that represents why we are in Iraq and what we hope to achieve is the forming of a democracy, per Taheri:

For months the shaping of a new constitution has been the theme of popular political debates throughout Iraq. More than 300 conferences were held on the subject throughout the country, allowing an estimated 50,000 people to express the views of countless cultural associations, trade unions, guilds, tribal groups and religious fraternities. Iraq’s newly created free media, including more than 150 newspapers and six television stations, almost all privately owned, have brought the debate to every home in the country.

The magical march towards democracy is not only being watch in Iraq, but is also seen by the entire region:

The importance of what is happening in Iraq goes beyond its borders. If, as it now seems likely, Iraq does become a pluralist state committed to building a democracy, it would be hard for the despotic regimes in the region to defend a status quo that has kept much of the Middle East out of the post-Cold War trend towards reform and liberalisation.

The Iraqi constitutional debate has, thanks to the modern media, over-spilt into the whole of the Middle East and familiarised millions of people with terms and concepts regarded as taboo until the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. People are now talking about human rights, democracy, multiparty politics, federalism, gender equality, the place of faith in society, consensus, governmental accountability and, of course, parliaments and elections. New words have been invented to express concepts excluded from the Arab political lexicon by the despots.

In a region that has never tasted democracy, how could anyone hold the position that giving them a chance to gain it is not worth the effort? There are lots of people who don’t think it’s worth the effort and sacrifice. There are also some very dangerous and threatening people and organizations that fear America being in Iraq even more than the American anti-war crowd fears being in Iraq. In fact they fear our involvement and the prospect of democracy in Iraq so much that it has been listed as their “greatest battle”:

Soon after the liberation of Iraq in 2003, Yussuf al-Ayyeri, a chief theoretician of al-Qaeda, published a book entitled The Future of Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula after the Fall of Baghdad. In it, he designated Iraq as “the greatest battlefield of Islam against the infidel and its native allies”. Al-Ayyeri wrote: “It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, its very survival, is American democracy. To allow Iraq to build would represent Islam’s biggest defeat since the loss of Andalusia.”

So here is the question………….If al-Qaeda can clearly see just how vastly important it is for them that democracy fails in Iraq, how can so many people in America and the west not see how vastly important it is that we do in fact succeed? Taheri closes with:

This is why all reactionary forces, from pan-Arabists to Islamists, and their sympathisers in the West, have united to prevent Iraq from succeeding. Iraq has become the litmus test of the success of the democratic experience in the region. There is no guarantee that it will succeed. But it is vital for everyone concerned that it does.

I agree and believe that it is vital that we succeed in Iraq. Failing in Iraq will bring about a region that will give up on the idea of democracy and will fall under an even darker curtain of fanatical religious rule and continue to breed terrorist who want to kill democracy in the west as well as those citizens living in the democracies of the west.

For me it’s not about WMD, the Downing Street Memo, Oil Fields, Military Bases, Halliburton or the other anti-war arguments. Iraq is about democracy not just for Iraq, but democracy for a region. To leave when we are closing in on it becoming a reality would be well, simply stupid…………………..