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The United States promised to create democracy in Iraq. The models for this were the democratic regimes installed in Japan and Germany after World War II. This was to be the crowning achievement of the Iraq war. If they succeed, the US will have given a real gift to the Muslim and Arab world as well as to the Middle East, a show case for Muslim and Arab democracy. However, as the weeks and months go by, the goal seems more and more elusive. At minimum, it seems that making democracy work in Iraq will cost the American taxpayer about $80 billion a year for an unspecified period. An Iraqi banker estimates that the USA will spend $300 billion in total before leaving Iraq. More important, perhaps, the coalition will suffer an unknown number of casualties in Iraq, especially as some experts predict that the terror will get worse, as Al-Qaeda and other groups organize to take on the occupation.
The occupation of Germany and Japan lasted several years, and it is not clear that the US, even with UN support, has the stomach for an operation that lasts that long. Public opinion polls show that support for the war is gradually eroding. What would happen to public opinion if, as happened in Lebanon, anti-US forces carried out a suicide attack that killed hundreds of coalition soldiers at once?
Salman al-Jumaili, a doctor of political science at Baghdad University, told Al-Jazeera, "You will find that the vast majority of them are Islamists - I mean Sunni and Shia Muslims - who are fighting for the sole purpose of pushing America out of Iraq." He estimates there are about 25 daily attacks, though most are not reported overseas, and he believes the number will increase. "If America does not leave, then I expect to see a huge wave of resistance approaching. The White House can deal with one death here, and two there, but very soon... much sooner than they think...it will be 10 dead soldiers here, and 20 there," al-Jumaili said, and others agree.
If that is the case, then America will find it hard to stay the course in Iraq even with the additional support that the UN has voted for the American occupation in Security Council Resolution 1511. Thus It would be well to agree on what American wants to achieve at this high price, and what can be achieved. What do we mean by "Democracy?" Is it good for the USA? Can it be achieved by occupation? Can another solution be found at a "cheaper" price?
By "democracy," we do not mean a state that serves American interests, but rather a state with freedom of the press, freedom of speech and a free press, with a healthy multi-party system. Assuming that it is possible to induce this miracle during an American occupation, it can take place only if there is a considerable effort at education for democracy, as well as training of soldiers who will be loyal to the democratic cause. So far only about 700 Iraqi soldiers have been trained. Several Iraqis, Iyad Allawi, the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council, want to mobilize the old Iraqi army to keep order and beat the insurgents. However, it is not clear that this army would be an asset or a greater threat to democracy than the guerilla forces, especially if soldiers have not been reindoctrinated in any way. It is a bit like mobilizing the Wehrmacht to keep order in occupied Germany.
Assuming that the US can repeat the miracle of Japan and induce democracy where none existed before, there is still no guarantee that a democratic Iraq will remain democratic after US troops leave, or that its policies will be congenial to the USA. For example, if a democratic majority elects an Islamist regime that then changes the constitution, will the US then reoccupy Iraq? If a democratic Iraq decides that like France, it requires a nuclear force de frappe, what will the US do? Of course, there are plenty of undemocratic regimes in the Middle East that have policies that aren't convenient for the USA.
However, leaving Iraq before it has a democratic government is not a satisfactory option. There are two groups who are very anxious for democracy to fail in Iraq. The first are the repressive governments, who are not interested in the "bad example" that Iraq could be for their own people. For them, democracy is very dangerous because it could be infectious. The second group are the cynics who insist that the USA invaded Iraq to control Iraqi oil or serve Israeli interests, and who also insist that there is no democracy in most of the Middle East because the USA prevents it. If the USA fails to deliver on its promise of a democratic Iraq, it will strengthen the hands of both groups and it will be viewed as a signal failure for American policy. Moreover, if the US leaves Iraq after setting up a pro-American mukhabarrat (police state) regime like that of Iran under the Shah or a similar undemocratic regime, Iraq will very unstable. It is very likely this regime will require extensive US protection of some kind, and even so, a revolution by disgruntled Iraqis or a coup could easily return a Saddam-type regime or bring about an Islamic republic as in Iran. After all, the British supported regime of Nuri-as-Said is what gave birth to the current situation in Iraq. A democratic Iraq is not a guarantee of future stability, but an undemocratic regime is a pretty certain guarantee of instability that will lead to a dangerous and virulently anti-US regime.
In an article in the Washington Post of October 20, Fred Hiatt points out that Iraqi intellectual Kanan Makiya has added another factor to be considered. Iraq was no longer a dictatorship according to him, but rather a sort of chaotic Mafia state. He says, "I admit I did not understand the full extent of the rot. A totalitarian state had metamorphosed into a full-fledged criminal state."
Indeed, the recent OIC conference in Malaysia was dissuaded from introducing a resolution urging a quick end to the American occupation, by the delegate of the Iraqi provisional government. He explained that a US pull-out would spell disaster for Iraq, which still has virtually no government insitutions - no police force and no army, and no state organization that could take on the tremendous task of reconstruction.
Two years may be a very optimistic estimate, but if Makiya and Baker are right, then the same time must be spent to establish any sort of state, not just a democracy. If so, there may be no short-cut in any case, and no advantage to compromising on the goal of democracy.
Kanan Makiya probably understood pre-invasion Iraq as
But the Iraqi-born academic, who has returned to live
Makiya's observation bears on the challenge the United
Bush administration officials have acknowledged their
Pauline H. Baker, president of the Fund for Peace in
"It will take a minimum of two years to get through
Baker is undoubtedly right about the miscalculation,
Makiya says he now believes that Iraq's loss in the
It was only in the 1990s, Makiya says, that the
Makiya sees the attacks on U.S. soldiers now as a
Does the fundamental miscalculation about the Iraq
But the challenges are heightened, he says, by the
While the regime prospered through black-market
Sanctions may "weaken the ability of the state to
It's yet another reminder of the inadequacy of our
Iraqi resistance looks set to intensify
By Lawrence Smallman in Baghdad
Spin doctors are well aware it is easier to sell a simple lie than tell a complex, often
That is why the United States dismisses armed resistance to its occupation of Iraq as "terrorism -
Since the start of the US-led occupation of Iraq in April, Washington has been at pains to
As recently as June, Paul Bremer, Iraq's occupation administrator, told a Congressional subcommittee
But since then he has changed his tune and this week he sounded his first note of alarm over the
"Starting in July, we saw them begin to regroup and come back in. There's no question we have scores
Iraqi analysts such as Salman al-Jumaili, doctor of political science at Baghdad University, agree.
Al-Jumali has studied the backgrounds of resistance fighters killed in combat.
"You will find that the vast majority of them are Islamists - I mean Sunni and Shia Muslims - who
The doctor estimates there are about 25 attacks every day, although only two or three usually make
Islamic and nationalist resistance
His analysis of Iraqi casualties and fatalities has led him to the conclusion that "Saddam
"It is important to mention nationalist resistance - among the dead we have found Turkomans and
The US' failure to rehabilitate Saddam Hussein's army is at the root of the problem, he says.
"America's great gift to the resistance movement was to disband the 350,000-man Iraqi Army.
"Now you have well over a quarter of a million men who know how to use weapons sitting at home with
"So an ex-soldier or civilian who is religious can find a movement that supports his views, a man
Although Iraqi Islamist fighters form the great majority of the resistance, no particular group
There are literally dozens of militias with no central planning or coordination, although there is
"There are many differences between the different groups, even between different Islamist resistance
Qahtan al-Khafaji, a doctor of strategic studies at the college for political science, says the
"Islamic resistance continues to grow among both the Shia and the Sunnis as it becomes clear that
"Look at the port of Um Qasr - it has become a private American company. It imports weapons and
"Look at Baghdad airport; it is used as a prison for the '55 most wanted' rather than being rebuilt
'War on terror'
"Look at how the $87 billion passed by the US Senate only recently is going to be spent - $67
On the other hand, Al-Khafaji believes the US administration needs a certain amount of resistance to
"They have a global war on terror, as they call it. They can't pin down al-Qaida, but the longer
"This is what the Americans want - it is the only thing they can use to justify remaining in a
"If there was no resistance, what excuse could the US use not to hand over control to the Iraqi
Al-Khafaji is convinced Iraq is fast becoming the preferred destination for international
"Al-Qaida may still be a minority phenomenon in Iraq, but it is likely to become increasingly
Meanwhile, Muthanna Harith al-Dari, a doctor of Islamic sciences at Baghdad University agrees with
Americans forces must leave, or they face being the architects of their own downfall, he says.
"US authorities must transfer power to Iraqis immediately. They should not hang around to ensure a
He accuses Washington of a thinly-veiled attempt to neo-colonise Iraq.
"At the moment, it is all too obvious that the Americans are only attempting to secure places that
"In Britain's Independent newspaper last week, one article pointed out that only five people died in
The sooner Iraqi police patrol Iraqi streets and Iraqi soldiers protect towns and borders, the
"The US could end the fighting tomorrow by withdrawing its army and taking it back home. They came
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