U.S. Brings Democracy to Iraq? Hardly.


by Craig Considine

Skeptics have reason to be weary of democracy in Iraq. 

For starters, up to 500 candidates were banned a few weeks before the recent election by the Commission of Accountability and Justice as part its ’de-Baathification’ campaign of Iraqi politics and life. 

The Baath party, as many are well aware, was Saddam Hussein’s party.  Many Iraqis are paranoid about the Baathists to this day, so much so that a Commission has banned its members outright from partaking in the recent elections. 
The Commission is dominated by Ahmed Chalabi and Ali Faysal al-Lami, both of whom who are tightly aligned with the Iran-leaning Iraqi National Alliance.  The Alliance consists of two of Iraq’s Shi’a Islamist parties, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Al-Sadr Trend. Coincidently, two of Iraq’s most popular Sunni politicians, Saleh al-Mutlaq and Dhafir al-Ani, have been altogether banned from this ‘democratic process’. 
Banning Baathists, Sunnis and even Shi’a Baathists from Iraq’s democratic experiment is nothing new.  In 2003, Sunnis were purged by the Supreme National Debaathification Commission, led by Chalabi himself.  This effort, as many are well aware, led to the surge of sectarian violence that brought Iraqis to the brink of an all out Civil War. 
Just imagine, for a minute, if some political commission with some ambiguous authority that was arranged by a foreign power in the United States decided to ban Republican candidates from the democratic process because of crimes committed by the Bush II administration.  Certainly Republicans, and probably some Democrats and Independents, would cry foul against these obvious anti-democratic steps. 
One can only predict, perhaps with some accuracy, what would happen if this hypothetical situation occurred.  Massive protests would ensue on the national mall.  Perhaps worse, violence would erupt across the country, with people clinging to their guns in the face of tyrannical and corrupt ’leaders’ on Capitol Hill.  However one foresees it, the outcome would clearly be harmful to the stability and health of the United States. 
And yet it seems that the United States is arrogantly patting itself on its back for its so-called ‘victory’ in Iraq.  Obama has even gone as far as hailing it a milestone in the history of Iraq and even the Middle East.  The president is getting simply way too far ahead of himself, like Bush did with his infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner. 
Iraq went into a horrendous tailspin after Bush’s Hollywood performance on the USS Lincoln.  As sectarian violence escalated, Americans laughed and called him a fool (and worse) for declaring victory in a conflict that had barely even begun. 
History may be repeating itself again, though under a different, but just as foolish, administration.  The United States government is so anxious for good news from the Middle East that it is willing to negate the facts to impress the American people.  It may all come back to bite them in the behind. 
Just because the Iraqi people held elections does not make Iraq a functioning democracy, just as banning blacks, women, natives, and other minorities from voting throughout American history did not make the United States a functioning democracy.  A democracy exists when all, not just some, are involved.
Obama may soon be eating his words if Iraq again drifts into sectarian violence, or even worse, if Iraq merges with a Shi’a-Iran to form an anti-American and oil rich bloc in the Middle East.
If these hypothetical situations were to occur, what would the United States think of democracy in Iraq then?  What happens if the wrong politician, with the wrong ideas, gets elected?  What if the wrong kind of democracy takes shape, like with Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in the Gaza Strip?  Would the United States intervene and undertake another military operation for ‘regime’ change to place the right democratic puppet in power? 
These all are possibilities that are still on the table. 
Scanning the Internet and finding pictures of Iraqis with purple paint on their fingers means nothing more than stuffing a ballot into a box that is said to soon produce a real democracy.  Any dummy knows that democracy exists with ‘free and fair’ elections, hardly the case when 500 candidates are outright banned from the election process.
Let us not forget that the democratic experiment in Iraq began forcefully at the barrel of a gun.  It is now dragging along with that same barrel pointing right at it.   Last time I checked, a democracy, or any free government operating in self-determination, cannot flourish in the face of a foreign occupation. 
This article originally appeared on the blog of Craig Considine.