Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Big Fat Straw Man 
The Washington Post today turns to anonymous sources to publish the World's Biggest, Fattest straw man

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

Excuse me, but just who was out there expecting Iraq to generate a whole bunch of Jeffersonian small-"D" democrats and mini Thomas Paines? Can you name them for me? I'm at a loss.

Iraqi officials yesterday struggled to agree on a draft constitution by a deadline of tomorrow so the document can be submitted to a vote in October.

Geez. Just when in the history of political science has a constitutional convention NOT "struggled to agree?" But, you know, is it too much to ask that the editors of the Washington Post check the newswires?

If they had, they would see that President Talabani expects that the convention will reach a full agreement tomorrow, one day ahead of schedule.

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists.

Oooh. That changes everything.

"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being repeated all over."

Mmmhmmm. If I didn't know the difference between a republic and a democracy I wouldn't want to be identified either.

There's nothing wrong with Iraqis wanting a strong muslim influence on their republic. I mean, Saddam Hussein's regime was secular, and look how friendly to U.S. interests he was.

On security, the administration originally expected the U.S.-led coalition to be welcomed with rice and rosewater, traditional Arab greetings, with only a limited reaction from loyalists of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein

Rice and rosewater? Rice and #&@*ing rosewater???? Cite please, WaPo. Actually, I demand a citation. Show me an on the record instance of any senior White House or Pentagon official making such a claim. Not so much that Iraqis would welcome us with flowers, because that much is true, a thousand times over.

But who was out there saying their wouldn't be a potent insurgency to contend with? I mean, we already knew that there was a brigade or so of Ansar Al Islam operatives, plus Zarqawi. Those were two of the reasons we went in in the first place.

So where's the backup, reporter?

Splash, out


Excuse me, but just who was out there expecting Iraq to generate a whole bunch of Jeffersonian small-"D" democrats and mini Thomas Paines? Can you name them for me?

To quote wikipedia:

Many staff and supporters within the Bush administration had other, more ambitious goals for the war as well. Many propagated the claim that the war could act as a catalyst for democracy and peace in the Middle East, and that once Iraq became democratic and prosperous other nations would quickly follow suit due to this demonstration effect, and thus the social environment that allowed terrorism to flourish would be eliminated.

The "beacon of freedom" argument was a major one in the cause for war. I remember hearing it and pushing it myself, back when I supported the war because I believed that the President actually had something on them and wouldn't wager our nation's credibility on a roll of the dice. A free and prosperous Iraq, even without WMDs being found, was intended to demonstrate not only the viability and benefits of democracy, but also the benefits of a low (15%) flat tax rate and a free and unregulated private sector.

It's not just that establishing Iraq as a "beacon of freedom" was given as a major (and persuasive) reason for the war: any objection to this rationale was met with angry indignation and ridicule that anyone who disagreed obviously holds racist beliefs that Iraqis are subhumans who are incapable of democracy.

No, no one said that people in Iraq would literally change their name to Thomas Paine, but Iraq was intended by the Bush Administration architects of the regime change and rebuilding to become "a model new democracy" as the article says.
Well, part of being a "beacon of freedom" means that people are free to elect a slate of Sharia politicians.

There's no evidence that Iraqis are willing to elect a theocracy, such as Iran. But if they really want to vote for legislators that look to Sharia law as a foundation for their legal system, in the same sense that English Common Law is a foundation for ours, I hardly see that as the end of the world.

It's their country. They can do whatever they like. If they can't, then it's hardly a republic.
There's no evidence that Iraqis are willing to elect a theocracy, such as Iran.

Do you know who won the most seats in the last election in Iraq? That would be the SCIRI - the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Iraqis aren't just WILLING to elect a theocracy, they DID. This is especially tragic because the whole reason our country spent the 80s supporting Saddam was to fight the SCIRI back when the second 'I' meant 'Iran'. We just butchered our closest former regional ally and handed it on a silver platter to the Iranian group we've been fighting since the 70s.

Of course you're shifting the argument because that wasn't the point of the article you were attempting to debunk: Iraq is a failure because it isn't meeting any of its goals - a representative democracy resulting in prosperity and stability as an example to the region being one of those goals.
Gee... From the article that you yourself cited on SCIRI, here's what we learn:

"With the fall of Saddam after the 2003 invasion of Iraq the SCIRI quickly rose to prominence, working closely with the other Shi'ite parties. The party leaders toned down many of party beliefs and committed it to democracy and peaceful cooperation."

Hardly the chicken little scenario you describe.

Further, SCIRI only won a plurality. It did not win a majority. It must still form a coalition in order to come up with a commanding voting bloc.

SCIRI is a Shia party, and as such, represents 65% of the population. THe remaining 35% is divided between Kurds and Sunnis. The fact that a Shia party won a plurality is a success story, not a failure.

And I still don't see any evidence that Iraqis will vote for a theocracy. That's not what they want. And it's not what Sistani wants.
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