Is “Forcing Democracy” like “Fighting for Peace”?

In the comments on my last Iran posts, Josh says “democracy forced is not democracy. it is, above all else, temporary.” I’ve heard comments like this from a variety of anti-war folks and it always strikes me either as oxymoronic or very conservative. Is Josh saying that the people of Iraq don’t want democracy? How would he know? Perhaps the Iraqis should vote on it! Polls indicate that elections are wildly popular with the people of Iraq, and turnout is expected to be higher than it was here in our last election. Perhaps Josh is saying that we are planning to force people to go to the polls and tell them for whom they must vote? I am not aware of any evidence for that. Or, perhaps Josh is saying that the terrorists in Iraq will intidiate too many people from going to the polls for him to consider the election legitimate. The question then is 1. how do you tell and 2. isn’t it then incumbent on the elected government representing the portion or Iraq not occupied by terrorists to liberate the portion that is?

But, Josh says that “democracy forced is temporary.” I’m not sure what he means here either except the claim that the terrorists and their foreign allies who want to keep the Iraqis from having democracy will eventually overpower the forces of democracy there. He might be right, but that sort of depends on the choices WE make. Among these choices are whether US forces help kill terrorists in places like Fallujah or Najaf. And, among those choices are what we do about the parts of the Syrian, Iranian, and Saudi governments that are helping them. And I suppose that Josh believes either that we did not “force democracy” in Germany, Japan, France, or S. Korea or that they are no democracies or that they are all temporary.”

In the rest of his comment, Josh, effectively, is saying that the Iraqis now all hate us because they would have preferred to continue the life they had under Saddam and his sons to what they have gotten or will get as a result of liberation. Given that most Iraqis when polled indicate a preference for liberation and that elections are wildly popular and that in many ways conditions for most Iraqis are vastly superior to how they were beforehand, I would be curious to know his justification for such a claim.


3 Responses to Is “Forcing Democracy” like “Fighting for Peace”?

  1. alex, are more iraqis being hurt and killed because we went there than if we had simply let saddam hussein die?

    by an order of magnitude.

    do you think that those people are willingly happy to die for our dream of democracy?

    fat chance.

  2. Care to present some evidence? The number of Iraqis murdered by Saddam beggar’s belief. Do you think the mruder rate would have gone down if he had been replaced by the sons who were happy feeding people into shredders?

    The lines of Iraqis waiting to join the new Iraqi police forces are a testament to their willingness to risk death for THEIR dream of democracy.

    There is lots of evidence indicating the Iraqis desparately want democracy. You keep making stuff up. Care to present some data?

  3. ooghe says:

    a word I think is just about due to be stricken from the english language is ‘liberation’ (another good candidate would be ‘pure’). too much political terror has happened under their guise for me not to shiver when hearing them.

    I think the crux of the problem of imposing ‘democracy’ is contained here:

    “I’m not sure what he means here either except the claim that the terrorists and their foreign allies who want to keep the Iraqis from having democracy will eventually overpower the forces of democracy there. He might be right, but that sort of depends on the choices WE make.” (emphasis not mine)

    Democratic forces can be supported, suppressed, nurtured, promoted, discouraged, encouraged, organized, or put down- but whether or not a democracy succeeds can never be *chosen* by others or dependent on some outside force. A democratic government is a product of people’s will at an individual level- and expressed through political institutions that those people deem legitmate.

    Democracies aren’t really like Ronco air conditioners that can just be “installed” and certified by the fact that someone checked the ‘voting is good’ box you gave them in a poll, any more than communist expansionism could be legitimated by a poll indicating ‘my economic needs will be provided for’as a popular statement.

    This has always been the problem with “liberations”- it’s basically an undemocratic decision by the “liberator” to violently define what constitutes an acceptable society to the people that were liberated, usually in a way that is a dogmatic version of whatever political forces are steering the liberator and have nothing to do with the experiences of the liberated society.

    The problem is that whether or not the bodycount was higher under one regime or another is made
    less relevant by the fact that after the shock of a heavy-casualty invasion, liberation, or whatever you want to call it- people in a desperate situation put the onus of responsibility on
    the force that fought it’s way in. And guess what. Their measure of their liberator’s
    responsibilities are framed within their context, not ours.

    All of which is to say that it is not impossible that a stable pro-Israel, American capitalism
    friendly, anti-Syrian, anti-Saudi, anti-Iranian beacon of democracy actively engaged in thwarting
    international terrorism without massive US troop presence and expenditure couldn’t materialize
    January 30th, but it is unlikely. I realize that is a standard of absolute perfection- but those
    are our interests, and to suggest that there are “lines of Iraqis” as evidence for the march of
    the democracy is to ignore the simple fact that it’s a secure job financed by the US. The actual
    fighting part has been “disappointing” according to the President- whose veracity is, of course,
    above reproach.

    The upshot is, ‘forcing democracy’ can be done- or at least partially employing a moribund country
    and preventing the poor heathens from bowing down to idols might be done to the extent that the US
    can afford it, but whether that can be chalked up as helpful or harmful to the US or Iraq is
    up to the Iraqis to demonstrate, and so far- I’m betting that it continues to be a big mess.

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