2002 December 12 Thursday
Gerecht: An Iraq War Won't Destabilize the Mideast

Former CIA and State Department Middle Eastern specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht, in an essay in which he argues that a second Persian Gulf War will not destabilize any regimes, argues that the only possible destabilising act that the US could commit would be to install a democracy in Iraq.

The one truly unsettling thing a second Persian Gulf war might unleash is Iraqi democracy. President Bush's rhetoric about Muslims' right to freedom has been unprecedented. Yet the administration has been vague about its aspirations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein. There may be good reasons for this vagueness, but it may also indicate that while promotion of democracy is high on the administration's list of ideals, it is low on the list of priorities. Practical American support for liberal ideas in the Arab world has been virtually nil. The administration recently faced its first really hard test: Mr. Mubarak's imprisonment of the democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American. The administration failed to put any serious pressure on Egypt. This is the kind of corrupt stability in the Middle East that does us no honor and ultimately harms our interests. Bin Ladenism's appeal is unlikely to end in a Muslim world dominated by such unchanging despotism.

I think it is imperative that the US install a democratic system in Iraq in order to remove the argument that the US doesn't really value democracy. Install a democracy in a mostly Arab country and let the Arabs see for themselves whether they really do believe the set of values that are required in order to make a real democracy function.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 12 05:30 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

A guy who requests anonymity said at December 12, 2002 9:12 PM:

One has to question whether Iraq is the ideal testing ground for an experiment in Middle Eastern democracy. Given the deeply fractured state of the current Iraqi society, installing a functioning democracy there may prove to be an exercise in idealistic futility. One wonders if a comparison to the Soviet Union of 1985-1991 may not be too far-fetched. The price to pay for a truly democratic Iraq may well be the breakup of the country along ethnic lines. With all that said, I nevertheless agree that a serious attempt at an Iraqi democracy must be made, regardless of the likelihood of ultimate success. To do otherwise would be a mistake that could prove extremely costly to long-term U.S. and Western interests in the region.

Randall Parker said at December 12, 2002 10:33 PM:

Marcus, I agree with all your points. The Iraqis are heavily traumatized by that regime. They may well be less able to form a democracy than, say, the rather less traumatized Jordanians. The ethnic groups in Iraq make the problem more difficult. They don't even share a common language. More generally, I don't believe that the Arabs in any Arab country have the right set of cultural beliefs to support a successful democracy. They lack experience with mediating private organizations and many other essential components of democracy. But we've got to give it a try in spite of all this.

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