Monday, February 20, 2006

U.S. spreading democracy, until we do not like the results...

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, warned Iraqi leaders to form an inclusive government or face the prospect of losing U.S. financial support.
Khalilzad reminded the Iraqis that the United States has spent billions to build up Iraq's police and army and said "we are not going to invest the resources of the American people and build forces that are run by people who are sectarian" and tied to the militias — some of which the ambassador said received "arms and training" from Iran.
This determination by the administration to whole heartedly endorse democracy until we do not like the outcome is also reflected by the U.S. requesting that the newly elected Hamas government return $50 million , which Hamas has agreed to give back.

I suppose then that what America really means when we advocate democracy, is for the new government to actually be elected by the people, whilst also being favorable from the wests point of view. The chances of the democratically elected governments of Arab peoples seeing things eye to eye with Washington are remote.

Does this mean that in my humble opinion, America is duty bound to support democracies that work against western interests? No. But we should understand full well the consequences of our stated goal of spreading democracy through out that region. The past assertions by president Bush that democracies are peaceful and do not invade their neighbors has now been shown to not be the case. Indeed the example set by the Bush administration destroys his own argument. We should not support governments that advocate violence and terror whether they be democratic, kingdoms, theistic, or pro western.

I would however like to see the west at least give Hamas a chance to try their hand at ruling before doing all in our power to pull the rug out from under them. If the Hamas governing style resembles the Hamas revolutionary non governing style, then is the time to condemn and withdraw support. The fact is that governing tends to bring revolutionaries and hardliners down to earth. Witness the transformation of Ariel Sharon from Zionist hardliner to pragmatic peacemaker. It appears already that the choice by Hamas for prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh , sends a signal of moderation. Ismail is described as "a moderate by Hamas standards".

On the question of the new Iraqi government: America can only expect that the new government will have close ties to Iran. The majority of Iraqi citizens are Shiite Muslims and identify with their neighbor to the east. The head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security agency is recently quoted as saying
"When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos,"

"I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."
An additional cause to rue the invasion from the perspective of the west may well be the formation of a government wholly allied with Iran. Before the invasion president Bush rather ridiculously lumped Iran, Iraq and N. Korea into an axis of evil. Considering the history of the region the notion that Iraq and Iran formed a coalition of any sort prior to our invasion is preposterous. Now, thanks to our disastrous occupation and our determination to install a democracy in Iraq, the fact is that we are in the process of installing an ally of Iran on it's western border. It really is no wonder that the work of building an Iraqi army is crawling at a snails pace. We really have no interest in training and arming the Baghdad wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Indeed the assertion by the head of Shin Bet pertains, not only in respect to the chaos that followed the order imposed by Saddam's dictatorship. We may well rue the day we brought down the regional check to Iran, and actually strengthened them as Iran rose to regional domination.

If we must insist on democracy, we must live with the consequences.

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