Is the U.S. an Anti-Democratic Force in Iraq?
by Mark Liberator (e-mail: [Updated February 24th, 2004]

The occupation of U.S. forces in Iraq is causing a considerable amount of unrest, both at home and abroad. There are U.S. citizens who oppose our stay. Other U.S. citizens are pro-Bush’s plan and resist the sentiments against his decisions.

“As strong defenders of democracy, we must insist that the Iraqis be allowed to nurture their own flavor of democracy.”

Iraqis against our occupation have resorted to violence as a means of demonstration, while others peacefully express their thoughts. Other Iraqis are comforted by our close involvement. There are other foreign nations both for and against the U.S., as well.

It turns out all the views bear merit. Yep. Each and every one of them holds some rightful claim to the truth.

Those who want order restored to the region by U.S. forces make a claim it is democracy that must be instituted in Iraq. These proponents would go so far as to instill it themselves if need be and lay a foundation for a healthy democracy.

Who can blame them? Self-rule, independence, fair play and a government designed to act as a custodian for the people is an act of beauty unrivaled by the Mona Lisa or the Pyramids of Giza. It also does more for people than art does for people because it directly helps citizens solve problems like build roads, enforce justice, and defend itself. So, instead of thinking of it as a painting to be admired from afar, it is a practical, dynamic entity that beneficially affects the lives of the people it is meant to serve.

This engine is modeled after Greek philosophy and the advent of city-states. Sure, the Romans implemented a senate and influenced the process, too. It is a model so useful that it is used today in many different lands and has survived a test of time in each of those lands. We’re talking powerful stuff here.

The power rests in a key component designed around the citizen. This component is the ability for each individual to voice ones opinion and contribute in the process that shapes government and society. This local representation is essential. Of course, there are state and national power structures that influence the system along with the ultra-important division of power coming from three branches of government.

Yet, this is exactly the reason why anti-occupation supporters have a point. If democracy depends on local control, why is it U.S. forces must influence the new Iraqi government to such a high degree? If Iraqi’s would like to elect Shiite representatives and achieve a theocracy similar to that of say Iran, is it our place to claim it’s wrong? What if Iraqi’s want to re-elect members of the Baath party -- the same party of good ol’ Saddam Hussein? How about a traditional Iraqi leadership absent of female representatives?

If the United States uses its current military occupation to directly influence the evolution of Iraqi government, we must ask ourselves if the U.S. is a true proponents of democracy. It’s a tricky business, considering we already know the pitfalls of allowing religious organizations to dominate our decision-making process while they cling to archaic, unscientific, and outright dangerous myths. This goes for the Baath Party as well and here lies the crux of the problem.

There seems to be an analogy we can use to explain this conflict of philosophy. We might even find it on some graduate level test. Democracy is to globalization as local government is to what? It’s probably state or national government. There is a movement to join countries together under a global umbrella. One can think of it like another link in a long chain of influencers, like state courts influenced by federal courts.

Without getting into the dark side of globalization -- determining if a global court will pull more weight than our own supreme court -- the push and pull of global forces and local forces is something that will never be solved through a simplified article like this one. However, it is sure to affect the election to come this November and have a long-lasting affect on U.S. relations with other countries in years to come.

Let it be known that questioning the practices of our own U.S. government is not an act of sabotage, nor is it anti-Republican, anti-military, nor does it necessarily make any other negative statement. In fact, it is a healthy indicator we live in a country where questioning the actions of one’s own government is possible, acceptable and encouraged. It demonstrates the strengths of democracy. Imagine not being able to speak one’s mind due to restrictions placed by a religious figurehead or a dictator like Saddam Hussein.

We should hope that the Iraqi people feel compelled to bring an equal level of interest to the peaceful development of their own government. Intelligent and informed American citizens are keeping abreast of the unfolding events in Iraq, which includes noticing the involvement of both Iraqi and U.S. forces. It includes a desire to have all Iraqi voices represented, not just a selection of handpicked bodies by our U.S. leadership.

As strong defenders of democracy, we must insist that the Iraqis be allowed to nurture their own flavor of democracy. This means U.S. forces must carefully assist the Iraqis as Iraqis search to define their own problems, form a representational body to handle its problems, and enact strategies to solve those problems. If U.S. forces act justly, they must slowly disengage from the process so that Iraqis can fly as free as we do.


  • CNN: Wolfowitz lays out plan for Iraq transition to democracy
  • CNEWS: Democracy meeting in Shiite heartland city underlines new Iraq
  • Washington Post: Hope and Confusion Mark Iraq's Democracy Lessons
  • International Herald Tribune: Iraqi opposition issues democracy plan for post-Saddam era
  • Electronic Iraq: Shiite Unity Challenges U.S. Plan in Iraq

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