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American democracy will not take root in Iraq

March 14th, 2007  ·  31 Comments

US strategy in Iraq is based on the mistaken assumption that Arab Islamic culture is fertile ground for American-style democracy.

But has that form of democracy ever been successful in the Middle East?

It hasn’t worked in Egypt and Syria, nation’s that pretend to be democratic and send their people to the polls, only to ensure that the reigning dictator always receives at least 90% of the vote.

It hasn’t worked in Lebanon, where terror bosses fill many of the parliament’s seats and even ministerial positions, and order their own forces to violently oppose government policy when it does not mesh with their own.

The same can be said of the Palestinian Authority, which last year did hold actual democratic elections. The Palestinian Arabs were given an opportunity to democratically elect their representatives, and they overwhelmingly voted for the most blood-soaked terrorists among them.

The only “good” example of democracy in the Middle East is Jordan, and it only works there because ultimately a monarch holds the reins of power.

So why believe that a fractious Iraq will be any different? Why will that nation suddenly be the one Islamic state that will become a mirror of American and European democracy? The answer is that it won’t.

Looking at Iraq, we need to consider why there is more bloodshed and insurgency today when democracy and political freedom are being given a chance than there was during the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein.

What needs to be remembered is that Arab Islamic culture is based on a tribal system that still very much influences daily life in the region. In that tribal system, perception is everything, and whoever is perceived as being the strongest will be accepted as leader, even if they are hated.

Furthermore, Islam itself encompasses both personal faith and political governance. It dictates how a majority-Muslim nation is to be run.

In the case of Iraq, Saddam Hussein faced less insurgency and rebellion than today’s democratic government because he was recognized as the dominant, if not stabilizing, power within the country.

The same is true when comparing Syria and Jordan to Lebanon. Syria and Jordan have experienced relatively few uprisings because the regimes are powerful and have demonstrated their willingness to use excessive force to put down any threat to their rule.

Lebanon, however, has suffered decades of sectarian violence at least in part because efforts to maintain a Western-style democracy has created a central government that is both less powerful and less willing to use excessive force than the various other armed forces that roam the country.

The Palestinian Authority is now experiencing a similar fate because of the decision to let the people vote for who they perceived to be the strongest, and therefore the best leaders.

Over the past decade, Hamas has managed to create a perception of itself as powerful enough to do damage to the Palestinian Arabs’ greatest enemy – Israel. The group was and is viewed as the strongest among that society because of its unrepentant willingness to employ brutal violence against both external and internal enemies, unlike the PLO which, at least on the surface, pretends to follow a more Western-style of diplomacy and dialogue.

The fact of the matter is that Arab Islamic culture is not fertile ground for American-style democracy.

As I see it, America has two choices in Iraq:

  1. Drop the idea of American-style democracy and instead implement a form a representative government that works in tandem and is at least partially subordinate to a strong central leadership that wields ultimate military power. This solution would probably require dividing Iraq along its more natural ethnic lines.

  2. Realize that the only way to turn an authoritarian society into a truly democratic one is to implement a far more heavy-handed and drawn out occupation with the aim of completely reeducating the population.

    This is precisely how Japan was transformed, over a period of many years, from a society that would sacrifice everything to expand the domains of its god-like emperor to one that now fully embraces the ideals of American democracy.

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31 comments so far ↓

  • 1 Marcel // Mar 14, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    I said that in 2003 .
    I’ve always seem Iraq as God’s judgment on the newest Babylon.
    I don’t think it will be much longer until president Bush will be in a pasture eating grass .
    Who but a fool would think the corrupt style of us democracy would tame islam ?
    We in America no longer have a representative democracy .It’s corrupt beyond repair as the special money interests and lobbyists buy injustice and special exemption from following the law.
    We have truly become a lawless country led by a lawless leader.
    Look at the out of control rise in crime and the lawless border with Mexico if you’re still living in la,la land that America is good.

  • 2 Joyce // Mar 14, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    I believe, that Bush is being very unrealistic about trying to implement democacy in Iraq. To begin with, I believe, that the people need to be rational for democracy to work, and I’m sorry but they don’t show much rationality to me. Bush just needs to accept that it’s not going to work. Because, as the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” well unfortunately, that’s how this situation seems to be. But of course, this isn’t the only unrealistic plan of Bush’s that’s not going to work, this so-called peace plan is not going to work either. After reading the article “Lame ducks and sitting ducks” it just reinforces my belief, that the U.S. demise is closer than ever. And all because, of our government’s unyielding pressure of Israel to accept this sham of a peace plan, and to give up land to the Palestinians. Of course, the moral decline of our country isn’t helping matters either. And because, of all these things, is why I also believe, that the U.S. is Babylon as mentioned in Rev. 18. And the possibility of this being true is very disheartening to me, and I pray, that I am wrong about this. But, when you think about Armageddon, and how the Bible mentions Israel, and the countries that come against them, but, there is no mention of the U.S. being there. Then it makes sense,something must have happened to keep us from being there to help Israel. But of course, as we all know we won’t be needed at that point anyway, because the Lord will destroy all those that come against Israel. But I believe, unfortunately, that this shows what the fate of the U.S. will be.

  • 3 Victor Passenheim // Mar 14, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Correct, of course. But what puzzles me the most is where are the Middle East analysts who should have been voicing this from the get go?

    I don’t here this opinion ever in the media, and before everybody tries to point out what I already know, how the media is liberal, etc., this still doesn’t explain why it’s not hear ANYWHERE. Unless, of course, I missed that coverage somehow.

  • 4 Anne Kraemer // Mar 14, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Is it possible that Bush has been there all along as a military cloak for Israel? Wasn’t the threat of their annihilation rising to the forefront. Once we got there, hasn’t it become a byword? Now I am not saying that there were necessarily any clear directives when we first arrived, but couldn’t there have been a realization once we were there that it would serve a dual purpose. One of goodwill (at the time) one of moral and ethical value? and one of Promise to Israel.
    Anyway….Ryan….Your 1 and 2 are new to my thinking. I like #1. What’s behind door #1. The great think tanks are really only little people with great ideas.

  • 5 Charles Wesley // Mar 15, 2007 at 12:03 am

    The fate of America could be discribed by Ezekiel chapter 39 verse 6 ……….”I will send fire on Magog and amoung them that dwell carelessly in the isles” . Fire is sent on Babylon, the best discription of America I believe I have heard in Revelations 18 . Iran wants to use a single Nuclear ElectroMagnetic Pulse weapon to knock out communications and burn out all our electrical devices . This would also destroy all modes of transportation instantly as well as knock out our countries power grids . If you think Katrina was bad , the recovery time from that could be years or decades because the factories would have to be rebuilt from unaffected parts of the world . Some people would have to walk for days to get home from work . The outlookfor America looks bleek !

  • 6 Marcel // Mar 15, 2007 at 1:24 am

    Is it possible that Bush has been there all along as a military cloak for Israel?

    Where does this madness come from ?
    The Iraq fiasco has done much harm to Israel has the President’s Road Map.
    And someone see’s something good for Israel in what this devil is doing ?

    While the wolf carves up and dissects Israel to his Palestinian terrorist buddy Abbas and his Hamas unity gobvernment.
    Very soon ,when the wolf Bush calls on Olmert to ethnically cleanse the Jews from Judea and Samaria to reward his Palestinian terrorists with their own State ,there will be lunatics saying this dismsmberment is good for Israel.
    The Iraq fiasco bleeds the U.S. economy dry and wears out and wears down our military and after four wasted years there is nothing good to show for this insane venture.
    One sure thing the idiot Bush has accomplished is uniting Shiite Iran and Shiite Iraq ,a rebirth of ancient Persia which will come against Israel.

    How can anyone in their right mind see this evil president ,bent on a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, bringing anything good to Israel unless you are under a strong delusion and blindness leads you to the pit ?
    For those I offended by calling their god an idiot , the blind do lead the blind and they both fall into the ditch.

  • 7 Anne Kraemer // Mar 15, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I am not a lunatic. I used to be and God and I have that all straightened out. I just don’t quite see it the way you do. It’s a matter of ignorance. And I will be sure not to ask on this site what others think, you happen to think too much, some things I agree with, You don’t get the all or nothing from me, but I believe you also have got a lot of it wrong. To me, this still is unfolding, certainly not in any way that (we can see) as redeemable….but someone bigger than you or I is working on that. I happen to believe that many wrong things can be done, perhaps with the right thinking to begin with.I also am not speaking about what I see now, but what I missed earlier. Not all people fall right over the cliff. You may say what you want. P.S. If you start reading there are some good things that have come out of the venture with Iraq.
    I am not going to do the homework though. You do it. And don’t even think of accusing me again. You take things to the nnnnnth degree with your diatribe talk. In my opinion, This site gets so bogged down with your rigid views. I am sure you’ll respond with pages or rages. Best say nothing…for a change. This was not a debate and I won’t respond to you again on this subject.

  • 8 Marcel // Mar 15, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    good things ? The big picture points to the beginning of sorrows and the tribulation period coming out of this start to WWIII.
    I guess if all these must happen before Jesus’ return then you might say all the maiming and death of U.S. and Iraqi people is something good.
    I don’t .

    The delusional one’s have to manafacture phony events to prove that this evil president is doing something good for Israel.
    You lean upon your own faulty and confused understannding. Thats your big mistake and the error of so many confused Christians who serve two opposing kingdoms.
    Lean not unto thine own understanding ,in all the ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.
    You have to manafacture lies and delusions like the Iraq war was for Israel or good for Israel.
    It like the Gulf war is all about Oil and U.S. greed and arrogance in controling thier falling power base.
    God is bringing down our lofty thron e and it has begun in Iraq.
    Ann ,your opinion ;
    ”In my opinion, This site gets so bogged down with your rigid views.”
    This flesh led opinion is held by many who only want their ears tickled and resist the hard truth.
    The truth has become offensive to the lies they hold tightly to.
    Let go of the lies !
    To you ,the truth is a diatribe. and I hope to God I make you and others uncomfortable enough to snap out of your spiritual malaise before it’s too late.
    You admit that you refuse to do the homework and so walk in ignorance and darkness and you don’t like me because I remind you that your foundation is built on lies and every false way.
    Satan ,with ease decieves those like you who walk according to the dictates of their own evil hearts.
    That is why you fall for this nonsense that the destroyer of Israel by peace,Bush is helping Israel by bringing chaos and destruction to so many lives by his failed Iraq war.How mad ,how insane !

  • 9 Charles Wesley // Mar 15, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    Washingtons duplicitous stance on terrorism Post # 7

  • 10 Charles Wesley // Mar 16, 2007 at 3:03 am

    Marcel ,
    We agree that those that are looking for an early out will be disappointed . When these Christians read their Bible and are shown scripture that tells that the son of perdition will be on earth before Christ returns ,they can see the truth . Some people can not fathom going through the tribulation and chose to believe in the theory of Rapture . Most people have never searched the Bible to find there is no such word as Rapture . They read 1st Thess. chapter 4 and reject 2nd Thess. chapter 2 where the timing of the gathering to Jesus will be revealed .
    I do believe that they are saved and need instruction not condemnation or being driven off by rage .
    Most likely we have reached more people on this post through loving discussion than the other way .
    You have much to offer , if its done with love and understanding . Rage and the Love of Jesus do not go together .

  • 11 Steven // Mar 17, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    President Bush is an Idealist. And is this so wrong? Is this so evil? Without Idealists, we would have no vision – no drive to achieve greater and more glorious things. Great leaders must be great visionaries.

    No one ever said democracy would establish itself in Iraq without an altercation. Never did our Esteemed President claim that this fight would be over in a few short years’ time. From the start, he, and his followers, declared that this would be a long, violent, brutal struggle.

    If we Americans are so gutless, and so cowardly – if we have so very much lost our stomach for carnage – then I have very little hope left for our Nation.

    America was forged by blood and iron; every mile of its territory purchased or secured by the blood of brave men. We have always been a Warrior Nation; a Nation which prides itself on its nationalism, on its power, on its military prowess.

    Where in the vastness of history did we lose our true selves? Where did we leave our birthright?

    The struggle in Iraq is not failing because of Arab culture being incompatible with Democracy. The struggle in Iraq is failing because we, America, have been so deeply entrenched in this sick, twisted, perverted pseudo-ideology called Post-Modernism. Along with Post-Modernism, we have also been stricken with its ideological kindred which are political correctness and moral relativism.

    Life is not pleasant; life is not easy. Life cold, harsh, brutish and short.

    I do not give a damn what Europe has to say about America. I do not give a damn what some godless liberal has to say about America.

    We have fought this war too long to simply walk out untriumphant; too many soldiers have made the final sacrifice! This sacrifice must not be in vain.

    What we must do is be prepared to kill any who stand in our path to victory. Only then will our foes begin to cower back into the shadows and the darkness. I think it is time we employ the Roman practice of Decimation against our foes. Perhaps, when they have tasted that our resolve is as cold as steel, and as solid as stone; perhaps then our foes will finally surrender like the pathetic dogs that they are.

    We must rain down hellfire and destruction upon the Iraqi cities until they are bombed into submission.

  • 12 Micael // Mar 17, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    “We must rain down hellfire and destruction upon the Iraqi cities until they are bombed into submission.”

    Steven why do you use this kind of language when you criticise Marcel for his language? The president should he not leave the secret scull and bones if he is a God fearing Christian?

    Iraq do not need more bombs they are already ruined. If we are to kill all that stands in the path to victory, Bush should have started with his friends in the house of Saud. They are financing the Islamic poison around the world. Then he should kill the Persians and dont forget the Russian bear, the Russians are still planing for the big kill.

  • 13 Anat // Mar 18, 2007 at 3:54 am

    I completely disagree with the article for two reasons.

    a. Democracy has not come easily to any nation on earth. Even America went through civil war nearly a century after its beautifully democratic foundation, to say nothing of most European nations who went through various forms of totalitarianism and millions of dead as recently as the 20th century. At the moment, it seems like the Arabs will get through the process for less.

    b. I think that the Bush administration pinpointed the problem correctly: the unrest and terrorism in the Arab/Muslim world arise from a concept of “dominate or be dominated, opress or be opressed”. The only chance for peace is to try and alter this concept into one accommodating rights for all, i.e. democracy. The Bush administration is absolutely correct that this must be at least attempted, since the alternative is incessant war or endorsement of the very same mentality of submission (as Steven puts it: “rain down hellfire and destruction upon the Iraqi cities until they are bombed into submission”).

    It’s worth a try, and I can’t see that the Arabs are inherently any worse at it than Germany sixty years ago and others more recently.

  • 14 Steven // Mar 18, 2007 at 4:47 am

    Anat – you hit the nail right on the head!! I couldn’t agree more!! Blessings be upon you and your house!!

  • 15 Charles Wesley // Mar 19, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Steven ,
    Unlike Marcel I think you protest too little .
    A man like Bush has sold himself as a Christian and by definition a supporter of Israel . Giving guns to the Pals. was a blunder of tremendous proportions .
    That goes beyond bad judgement . To refuse to re-supply Israel with critical weaponry when the Arabs are building up on all sides for war is tantamount to sentencing Israel to a quick death , especially after reducing Israel land mass by decree . Judas couldn’t have done it better . Lets hope that he listens to some one on the right side before its too late . Unless it is Gods will that he puts Israel in harms way .
    God help us all !

  • 16 Charles Wesley // Mar 21, 2007 at 1:49 am

    Where are you now Steven ?

  • 17 Steven // Mar 21, 2007 at 3:26 am

    Hey hey hey – I’m still here Mr. Charles Wesley – don’t worry. It has thus far, and will continue to be, a very busy week. But be sure that when I have the time available, I will post often and with extreme prejudice.

    Now, I have to say that it is easy for one to look at President Bush and assert that “that man is a lost cause.” But I must remind myself that before I was saved by Christ, I was a lost cause. Moreover, I am sure that many, many people looked at me and thought in their own hearts that I was a lost cause. And, judging by how I used to live, they were probably making seemingly rational conclusions about me. Nevertheless, God worked within someone’s heart and told him that I was not a lost cause. And God used that someone to tell me about the saving power of Jesus Christ; and he did so persistently until I was finally enlightened and submitted to Christ.

    Now, applying this principle to the President, I have to assume a similar course of action. Those ‘christians’ who looked at me and turned up their noses and said, “he’s beyond hope” were not acting as Christ would have them act. But that Deacon who looked at me and prayed for my salvation was acting in accordance with God’s will.

    If all I do is condemn the President, then I dare say that I am being an unrighteous judge and a hypocrite. It is better – yay, it is more Christ-like – to show the man the pathway proper, and pray for his salvation.

    Now, even after being saved, it is true that I have stumbled from time to time. And, when I have stumbled, I am certain that there were those who, again, looked at me and assumed that I was a lost cause. But God worked in the hearts of Pastors and True Brothers, and they prayed that I would be revived and brought back to the perfect will of God. The former of which I speak were backslidden, and I dare say that they were acting in direct contrast with God’s holy will. But the latter – the Pastors and brothers – were acting as Christ would have acted; for rather than simply rebuking me, they guided me towards the correct path, and prayed for the renewing of my faith.

    Again, if I am to be Christ-like, I must apply these same principles to our President. Whether he be Christian or not, I must pray for his enlightenment. Any man can condemn another; but it requires a true measure of faith and good nature to pray for the uplifting of others.

    Charles, even if you disagree with me, it is my sincere hope that at the very least you can understand why I believe what I believe. If nothing else, I want to prove to you that my reasons for believing as such are not the result of an erratic response to deceitful emotion, but, rather, because I have made a series of careful observations, followed by many hours in prayer and in deep contemplation over the matter.

    I make no apologies for this though; I do believe that I am right. And if I am right, it is not because I am wise or righteous, but it is because of the Holy Spirit who worketh in me. No good thing may come from my own hand or mind, unless God worketh in me.

    That being said, I will conclude with the following: I do agree with you on one particular point. I DO agree that the coming of the LORD is at hand. I do believe that the rapture approaches, and that the tribulation period is very near. Though I know not the hour at which the Savior cometh, I do believe that it will be in my lifetime.

    And, with those words, I hope that you take comfort. After all, as it does say in the Holy Scriptures, that brothers, regardless of dispensation, should comfort one another with the knowledge that the LORD’s return is at hand.

    In closing, peace be unto to you in the Name of our Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ. Amen.

  • 18 Charles Wesley // Mar 21, 2007 at 3:59 am

    Yes Steven I also feel that the time for the Tribulation is near . I also believe that America will decrease and the call for the Lords return increase . I feel that America has about fulfilled it’s part in the protection of Israel as far as Gods plan allows . One thing though we will have Israel at heart as Christians . As for the Rapture , 2nd Thess chapter 2 tells us that the ( son of perdition ) will be revealed to us and he will sit in the Temple and show his self as God before we are Gathered unto Christ . So we will see all these events as they happen . But we must endure as Jesus said .
    It is good to talk to another Christian and discuss the word , and that is a Blessing . And as far as Bush , he is taking orders as far as I see . He couldn’t do anything against the will of God , especially concerning Israel . But , for the wise this is a sign of the eminence of Jesus ‘s return .

  • 19 garry J. // Mar 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I’m disgusted with this site. The views expressed here are incredibly racist and Palestinophobic. These views are then juxtaposed totally out of context with more mainstream news sources so as to increase the reliability. This is nothing but hatred, fear and racism being passed off under the guise of definitive opinion.

  • 20 Charles Wesley // Mar 31, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Maybe you would like to partner up with those suicide bombers . They aren’t biased , racist or full of hate . Babe you have to pick a side . You actually already have and it seems not to be on the side of Christianity or the support of his chosen people .

  • 21 pityryofth // Jun 21, 2007 at 8:23 pm

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  • 22 Marsha Carol Watson // Jul 27, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Ryan, this is the best article I have read, and it covers all of the bases.

    I wish YOU were President of the United States. I believe we would see lots of changes for the better. You seem to have “broken the sound barrier” and have a true understanding. Unfortunately, you are one of a minority.

    Thanks again for being here for all of us. We trust YOU to tell it like it really is……

    “God bless you and your family; God keep you all; God make His face to shine upon you all and give you all His divine peace, protection, financial blessings and open doorways for you to have influence in places that so desperately need your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.” amen and amen

  • 23 Marsha Carol Watson // Jul 27, 2007 at 12:08 am

    Charles Wesley, Ryan is on the side of Israel, but he has a deep understanding of Islam and their culture, and what drives them day by day.

    Please do not criticize Ryan. You have not walked in his shoes, and neither have I.

    America has the best intentions to create a democracy in Iraq; but best intentions will never get the job done. It is a sad thing to acknowledge this, but nevertheless it is all too true. I wish more than anything that we could be the catalyst that brings democracy to Iraq, but it is not going to happen. That is not being negative, it is merely seeing the “handwriting on the wall.”

  • 24 louise // Nov 4, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    i beleive that you cannot change people in a matter years what they have been doing for thoasands or more . i do not want my sons to die for nothing. You cannot change the way people think if all they see in front of them is hate. or maybe i should say they need to learn tolerance. the people of Irag have been around for a long time who are we to tell them what to do.put if you mix their hate with nuclear weapons. all I say is I have a right to live also and some day the silent majority of the usa will have to be heared. the people of iragi should be left alone to do as they want for themselves.

  • 25 jim in nelson bc // Nov 12, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    there is a curse on anyone dividing the Land of Israel
    Gen 12:3 I think
    Sharon is on still his back and Olmert is a walking zombie with his treacherous corrupt croneys trying to give away more of the land for Mr Bush’s suadi 9/11 friends
    meanwhile puffed Rice keeps repeating the lies and supporting palestinian terrorists
    what a mad hatter tea party
    god help the so called ‘ enlightened’ free world that paves the way for the anti christ

  • 26 Kevin Tullington // Mar 24, 2008 at 7:28 am

    So I’m writing a position paper for a college english class, and my topic is how democracy will not work in Iraq. This article was a big help, and if anyone has any advice for content i would really appreciate it

  • 27 SoulSearchGnostic // Oct 22, 2008 at 2:24 am

    “Democracy” does not work.

    Socrate was “voted” to death for “corrupting the youth”.

    Alexis Torqueville’s Tyranny of The Majority.

    Ancient Rome started as a “Democracy/Republic”.

    Why is there such a lack of RATIONAL thought that idiot’s can’t seem to understand that a) you are assuming people will “vote” for what is best for everyone and not just what is best for themselves and b) that “majority” rule is somehow not “mob” rule c) politicians will do what the citizens “voted” them into power to do.

    From all sides of the equation, “democracy” does not work.

    Enjoy the Freedoms you are allowed.

    There are only around 1% or less of you even capable of understanding what I am saying.

  • 28 AZM 1174 // Mar 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    @charles wesly what Washington state on post 7#

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