[lit-ideas] Re: The winner has already been selected?

  • From: "Phil Enns" <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 09:04:57 -0500

There will be democracy in Iraq because the Iraqis themselves want it.
Why Andreas sees the three competing groups, Shia, Sunni and Kurds as an
argument against democracy is beyond me.  In a democracy they have the
best chance of having the most say.  As Andreas himself notes, no single
group can wield absolute control so the reasonable thing to do is adopt
a system where they can have as much control as possible.  All the
groups recognize this as a democratic system.  Each of these groups has
pushed for democracy.  The problem isn't if there will be a democracy
but rather the shape of that democracy.  Is it proportional or

Andreas misunderstands my point about Iraqi civil war not being the
business of the US.  An early plan for the invasion of Iraq was to seize
the oil fields and ignore the rest of the country.  (This would have
undermined Saddam and made it more likely that he would be overthrown by
the Iraqis themselves instead of by the US.)  If civil war broke out,
the US could secure the oil fields and leave the rest of the country for
the civil war.  My point, however, is that it is not the business of the
US to settle the internal disputes of other countries.  This is a matter
of principle and my guess is that Andreas agrees with me on this.  Bush
was first elected on a platform of avoiding nation building and he is
supported by conservatives who still believe this.  9-11 forced Bush to
alter this but I believe the Bush administration is ideologically
opposed to running the business of other countries.  It seems to me that
the guiding principle for Bush is that countries can do as they like,
within reason, as long as they do not support terrorism.  My guess is
that Bush would allow any situation, including civil war, to develop in
Iraq as long as it did not lead towards support of terrorism.  Since US
troops will be in Iraq for a long time, the Iraqis will have to deal
with the 800 pound gorilla in the room, which will moderate any
extremism that might develop in the government.  I think this is a far
more realistic picture of Iraq then Andreas' vision of a fundamentalist
government using its billions to buy nukes.

In my earlier post, I didn't make clear enough my sarcasm regarding the
help Iraq could expect from France and Germany.  I don't think they
would intervene nor would the UN be able to intervene without the US.  I
agree with Andreas that the US has badly damaged its credibility, but I
also think the US has made clear that it will act when it thinks it has
to.  Nobody should underestimate how important that fact is for the
countries in the region.  The Middle East had a certain dynamic that had
developed over the last thirty years or so and, for better or worse, the
Bush administration has radically altered it.  In my opinion, the US has
gained in respect in the Middle East because it has threatened force and
carried through on its threat.  As seen in bin Laden, the US had been
viewed with contempt because it made threats but when it was attacked
(eg Beirut, USS Cole, Embassy bombings in Africa, etc) it did little.
The US was seen as fat, decadent and weak.  Even the first Gulf war and
the fact that Bush Sr. refused to wipe out Saddam was seen as a sign of
weakness.  But that has radically changed.  No country in that region
wants to be the next Iraq and no country doubts that Bush would invade
if sufficiently provoked.  And if there is more trouble in the region,
the countries will look to the US because they know it will act.  On the
other hand, who can count on France or Germany?


Phil Enns
Toronto, ON

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