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

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 08:38:01 -0800

Wow.  Good note Phil.  You almost have me convinced in regard to Iraqi
democracy.  I hope you are right.  The problem as I see it is that Shias and
Sunnis have a tradition of not cooperating.  For hundreds of years they have
chosen to settle their differences with the sword.  Were we to leave now, I
have little doubt that a civil war would soon follow.  Perhaps they will
behave themselves as long as our 800-pound gorilla is sitting nearby, but
the ideas of Democracy, freedom, pluralism, etc are Western.  Will the
Iraqis be able to compromise their beliefs in such a way as to allow their
democracy to work?  I hope so, but I tend to think Andreas' take on this is
the most likely one.

I misunderstood your sarcasm about France and Germany as well.


I do agree with what you say about Bush being elected on a platform of not
Nation Building, but the Neocon position is counter to that.  There is a
Wilsonian ideal behind this Neocon idea.  It seems a good thing to export or
brand of democracy, but I think Bush has had his fill of that for awhile.
If someone in his administration is urging him to intervene militarily in
Iran or Syria, I would bet he is resisting the idea.  



Lawrence Helm

San Jacinto


-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Phil Enns
Sent: Saturday, December 04, 2004 6:05 AM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The winner has already been selected?


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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