Looking back...Dictator to Democracy

In looking back, I recall the first days of the invasion quite clearly. I had recieved a jury summons and was sitting in the waiting room with around 100 other people watching the live coverage of the bombing of Baghdad. As I watched in dismay the gentleman next to me started to talk about the bombing. He said that Hussein was going to get his asked kicked by the US military. And I of course agreed. (I remember the first Gulf War.) I told the man sitting next to me that Hussein doesn't have any WMD. He looked at me as if I had just stepped on his foot. So I quickly followed up with my belief that you can't find what does not exist. Well, needless to say that was the end of our conversation.

I often wonder if that man remembers our brief conversation that March day sitting in the courthouse awaiting jury selection. I know I do. Of course I may remember this day because I was dismissed as a potential juror.

I was thinking that since entering into the third year of the Iraq invasion that I would post a short essay (or two) that I wrote in 2002. Before I rediscovered a love of drawing, I used to write. I wrote essay after essay emailing them to friends, family and various newspaper editors. I can't believe that I never considered becoming a blogger back then. It wasn't until I started drawing again that I decided to blog.

The first I'd like to share is titled Dictator to Democracy.

Dictator to Democracy
J Macdonald

I would be the first to admit that I don’t find favor with the Bush administration and its Iraq policy. But, I have been re-thinking my opposition to the president’s pre-emptive attack designed to elicit a regime change in Iraq.

Before I throw caution to the wind.

I wonder if the president actually believes that he can depose a totalitarian leader and in his place institute a democracy where one does not exist? I was thinking that if Bush can create a functional democracy in Iraq through coercion and the use of military force I would vote the party line for the Republicans.

But before I get ahead of myself, I should think it important to review several historical realities. The first being, the U.S. doesn’t have much success in removing the head of a sovereign nation and instituting a functional democracy. As it stands, the U.S. government has a longer history of undermining democracies and replacing them with dictators.

Specifically in the Middle East, the U.S. has done more to support and foster dictatorships (and monarchies) than it has to inculcate the growth of democracies. The first (of several) examples that come to mind would be the U.S. Saudi relationship, going back to the Roosevelt administration. The relationship between our nations has been about oil and not about democracy. This axiom has yet to change.

Then there is the relationship between the U.S. and Iran. Most people know what transpired after the Shah of Iran was deposed by his own people. Not as many know that the U.S. helped overthrow the democratically elected government in favor of the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran. The U.S. exported weapons to Iran, but not democracy.

And what of Iran’s neighbor? Saddam Hussein the evil ruler of Iraq was a former dictator-ally to the U.S. At one time he received ample support from the U.S., from logistics to weaponry in his war with Iran. If Hussein hadn’t pulled a Manuel Noriega and invaded Kuwait, it begs the question, would he still be an ally to the U.S.?

Then of course there is Afghanistan. The U.S. government wasn’t interested in the country until the Soviets showed an interest. And then, the U.S. government was only interested in preventing the spread of communism and the influence of the Soviet Union. When the Soviets pulled out, so to did the U.S. Of course the idea of promoting democracy was not on the minds of many until recently.

Was it just coincidence that the head of the interim government Hamid Karzai was the preferred choice of the U.S.? Well, with any luck, there will be national elections in two years. But as we all have learned: in politics two years is an eternity – a lot can happen in two years.

One has to wonder just how long it would take Iraq to evolve into a democracy? Will it take a year? Two years? Ten years? Never? And noting the history of the U.S., doesn’t a democracy pose a similar threat to the U.S. hegemony? Will a democratic Iraq suffer the same fate of previous democracies should they stray from the democratic principles of the United States?

If Bush thinks that he is capable of stemming the tide of history, he should be prepared to accept the responsibility of failure. Historically, the United States government has overturned more democratically elected governments in favor of supporting dictatorships than it has overturned dictatorships in favor of supporting democracies.

I want to wish the Bush administration a heartfelt “Good luck.” We’re gonna need it!


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