Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Whither Goest
Our
Democracy Project?


We are a nation with a history of making the world a better place. We brought Democracy to the world. In the Civil War, we fought again for the greater establishment of Democracy when we realized that we could no longer tolerate the sin of slavery. We pulled Europe out of its private circle of hell in WWI, we beat back the demonic forces of Nazism and Japanese barbarity in WWII, and we braved the poisonous seas of diplomatic sorcery in bringing the Soviet Union to an end.

We want to and, indeed, we need to believe we are doing good in order to gather the strength to go on.

The recent revelation that Abdul Rahman could be tried, found guilty, and executed for the "apostasy" of converting from Islam to Christianity in Afghanistan, has, seemingly, rendered our efforts, in that godforsaken country, useless. The reality is, life is better for Afghanis than it was under the Taliban. Women now go to school and learn to read. Schools are being built, and infrastructure is being put in place, and the Islamofascist circus of public beheadings is no longer prime entertainment in the public squares and stadiums of Afghanistan.

But, that is not enough. How could we be a partner in the creation of a Sharia state, however, relatively, benign? And, if Afghanistan has gone medieval on our watch, what does that bode for Iraq? Have we spent thousands of lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars, to install the same old bosses in the Arab world?

At Belmont Club, Wretchard points out that Francis Fukuyama, George Will, and William F. Buckley have all become sibilant seamstresses stitchhing together their white flags of surrender. Like tired lounge musicians, they vamp in repetition on pathetic choruses of "the Arabs just don't want to be free."

Such is the postmodern, multicultural bigotry of conservatives without vision.

And whose fault is all this, ultimately?

It is George Bush's fault for not learning the lessons of our own American history. In Japan, we turned an alien culture bent of barbarity, enamored with suicide warriors, inured in a squalid honor/shame mentality, into a modern capitalistic democracy. And, how did we do it?

Well, let me be blunt. We did it through something very akin to fascism. We forced the Japanese to quit their ugly habits at the point of a very sharp sword.

Why did we do this?

Because, we believe that freedom beats in the breast of all human beings. We believe that men are all created equal to pursue their own idea of happiness, and to live without the fear of expressing themselves in worship, creation, or against the hand that feeds. In short, we forced the Japanese to learn freedom and democracy because we believed they would be better off.

To an American, any other course for life is a Satanic lie.

Oh yes, indeed, the Buckleys, Wills, and Fukuyamas of the world have practical reasons for why Iraqis/Arabs/Muslims can not govern themselves morally. You see, they have too many "animosities," history is too viscous for change, traditional hatreds trump progress:


These arguments essentially say that while America can win the military struggle in Iraq it can never win the political struggle. The reasons may vary. Maybe "Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable"; maybe the country "lacks a Washington, a Madison, a Marshall"; or maybe it plain "doesn't want it" -- some form of democracy that is. But whatever the cause, so the argument goes, any success in the military field is negated by the "fact" that the political battle is unwinnable. Therefore the campaign as a whole must fail.

Of course the argument is valid only if the US in fact loses the political struggle. If the US wins the political struggle in some meaningful sense then the whole syllogism falls apart. Because the entire issue pivots on an empirical question it's important to examine just what US policymakers are trying to achieve in current negotiations to form an Iraqi unity government.

Wretchard points to an article by David Ignatius which avoids the totems of fear which lead to hopelessness by outlining the specifics of the Iraqi rifts which are delaying Democracy:


Khalilzad recounted the items that the Iraqi political factions have agreed on in private negotiations over the past month. On Sunday, the leaders signed off on the last of these planks of a government of national unity. The Iraqis have saved the hardest issue for last -- the names of the politicians who will hold the top jobs. That bitter fight will play out over the next several weeks. ... given where Iraq was six months ago -- when Sunni and Shiite leaders were barely talking -- their agreement on the framework for a unity government is important. These negotiations may not succeed, but they are not a fairy-tale fantasy, as some critics argue. "All the elements of the deal are there, up in the air, and they could come down and click into place," Kurdish leader Barham Salih told me by telephone from Iraq. "We have come to the real crunch."


It seems the real disagreements arise over the practical matter of how to share the oil revenue.


The real force driving the formation of a Unity Government is not some desire to satisfy an American obsession with spreading democracy so much as the need to come to agreements over oil and security. All the ethnic groups in Iraq want to share in the oil revenues. The Sunni need a share in oil revenues of which they have none themselves; while the Kurds and Shi'a need to agree how to tranship and manage the oil resources in their areas.

Without a negotiated settlement under a Unity Government, the Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds would have to fight for territory and oil resources. It is better to conclude a series of agreements to be administered by a Unity Government than escort every barrel of oil by force of arms to the market.


This should not be a surprise to us. It is a truism as old as Adam Smith that the free market principle of disparate selfishnesses creates the invisible hand which guides our society forward.

However, I believe we must learn from our failures in Afghanistan. Order is not the priority of democracy, freedom is. We can not allow Iraq to become a rigid Islamofascist state administered by purveyors of crude. We must, once again, find the courage of our convictions, the faith of our fathers. We must believe in our own Declaration of Independence and our own Constitution. We must know with a fervor that it is for everyone, and we must become willing to impose it at the point of a gun.

This may seem like an oxymoron, the imposition of freedom by force of arms, but forcing one's worldview on another is the essence of war. So, the question isn't whether my point is accurate. Instead, the question is, do we think our worldview is better.

If we do not, then what is worth going to war for?