If you can`t find the weapons of mass destruction
that were supposed to be the main justification for the
American war on Iraq, forget about it and start talking
about something else — namely, what a great democracy
we`re going to create for the wonderful Iraqi people.
That seems to be the latest tactic of the Bush
administration and its tame press in coming up with some
reasonable facsimile of a compelling reason why we went
to war at all.
The problem with the tactic is that lots of the
wonderful Iraqi people don`t want anything even remotely
This week the first steps toward what the U.S.
government likes to call "democracy" were taken in
Baghdad with the convening of an assembly of some 300
Iraqis, about a third of whom had lived in exile in the
West for years and none of whom was elected by anyone
other than the American munchkins who approved them.
By all accounts, the meeting was reasonably peaceful.
The newborn democrats did not shoot, club, stab or gas
each other or anyone else, though it was not clear what
might have happened had U.S. troops not been nearby and
had they not arrested the gentleman who had set himself
up as the apparently successful and popular but
definitely not U.S. government-approved
"Mayor of Baghdad."
As the Washington Post reported of the
gathering, "all were handpicked or carefully vetted
by U.S. officials after being nominated by fellow
Set Timetable To Take Power By Rajiv
Chandrasekaran and Monte Reel, Washington Post,
April 29, 2003]
The gathering did include enough different Iraqi
groups, factions, sects and cults to label it more or
less "representative," but then it also lacked enough of
other such groups to question that label.
Two major Kurdish leaders didn`t show up, nor did
very many Shiites, nor the man most likely to be the
next leader (democratic or not) of the country,
They agreed to attend a future gathering – not
sponsored by the United States.
The meeting took place only days after thousands of
Sunni Moslems demonstrated against possible Shiite
domination of the country and what the Sunnis took to be
the even more alarming prospect of religious freedom,
after the Shiites themselves started demanding the
creation of a theocratic state along the lines of what
exists in Iran, and after Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld had solemnly
announced, "If they [the Iraqis] don`t want those
people in and those people don`t subscribe to the
principles we`ve set forth …then they`ll stay out, and
There`s something refreshing in Mr. Rumsfeld`s
frankness, but what it tells us is that the "democracy"
being "created" is a
"Democracy," if it means nothing else, means that the
people get to pick their rulers. What Mr. Rumsfeld tells
us is that the Iraqis ain`t gonna pick nobody unless he
"subscribes to the principles we`ve set forth."
That might be fine if the Iraqis set forth those
principles, but they didn`t and as the demands of the
Shiites (60 percent of the country) suggest, many don`t
even approve of the "principles" when they hear about
Given the religious, ethnic, and political
composition of Iraq, anything like the "democracy" that
civics textbooks tell us prevails in this country and
Western Europe is not possible.
There is absolutely no reason why it should prevail
there and (again, as Mr. Rumsfeld`s remarks suggest)
several reasons why we shouldn`t especially want it to.
In 1992, when Algeria was planning to hold democratic
elections and the outcome looked to be the victory of
Islamic fundamentalists, the government simply cancelled
the elections. The fundamentalists didn`t "subscribe to
the principles" the government had set forth.
We heard no bleating from Washington then about the
"undemocratic" nature of the Algerian regime. The point
is, as veteran Middle East journalist Arnaud de
wrote last year, "There is little realization in
Washington that democracy [in Iraq and the Middle
East] would make the region even more anti-American
than it already is by giving free rein to Islamist
Mr. Rumsfeld`s remarks seem to indicate that there
is, at least now, more realization in Washington than
earlier of that possibility, and what has been happening
in Iraq since the end of the war reinforces it.
However many meetings U.S. occupation forces convene
and whoever we allow to attend them does not create the
underlying assumptions that permit self-government
("democratic" or not) to exist.
Those assumptions in the West required centuries to
take root evolve and involve far more than letting
everybody vote and adhering to Robert`s Rule of Order.
There`s little evidence that most Iraqis understand
and accept even the procedural rules of self-government,
let alone its basic values and concepts.
And as the Bush administration perhaps has really
known all along, there`s not much reason we should want
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.]