eagle Several experts on the Middle East have stated that they don’t believe Iraq is ready for democracy. On Charlie Rose last night, Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek and author of a new book on the subject called The Future of Freedom , argued that it is more important that Iraqis be granted rights and freedoms than democratic institutions. Highlights:

  • Democracy takes a long time to gain traction, to become part of a people’s culture.
  • The necessary foundations for democracy are personal freedoms , the rule of law, and separation of church and state. Without these foundations, there is no example in history of a successful democracy. 
  • Democracy in any region needs a successful model nearby to succeed. Japan was the model for the successful democratization of many Far Eastern country. By contrast, the only Eastern European countries that have built successful and stable democracies are those that share close cultural and historical links with Western European democracies (contrast Hungary with Ukraine, for example).
  • So the principle of establishing a regional working model of democracy in Iraq is fine. But doing so will take generations and huge investment, will constitute the largest foreign policy project since World War II, and will expose those in charge to the ongoing risk of nationalist attacks and anti-democratic rebellion. Zakaria and Rose both raised doubts about whether the U.S. is prepared to invest the time and capital, and take the risks, necessary to make it happen in Iraq. Given their post-war neglect of Afghanistan, that scepticism is understandable.
  • Oil seems to be a curse against democracy. States with huge natural resources to draw on often lack the motivation to make democracy work. Most oil-rich countries are essentially inefficient feudal oligarchies. Finland’s exports exceed the total of all Arab countries combined.
  • The U.S. has now become diplomatically the new Soviet Union: Both states achieved compliance through fear, rather than through diplomacy, negotiation, consensus-building and generosity. We all know how well this approach worked for the Soviets.
This entry was posted in How the World Really Works. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marie Foster says:

    Am I the one who is not seeing the opportunity for flower holding Iraqis to fall into compliance with neoconservative political agenda?Maybe they should send Rush over there. He has the snake oil technique of brain washing down pretty pat. He should be able to whip them into shape so they can take their seat at the table.Can we pull ourselves out of this morass before it is too late?

  2. Shane says:

    Dave,I take issue with this statement “The U.S. has now become diplomatically the new Soviet Union: Both states achieved compliance through fear, rather than through diplomacy, negotiation, consensus-building and generosity. We all know how well this approach worked for the Soviets”.As anyone who suffered under the Soviet Union’s yoke knows, the US’s diplomatic style is far from the Soviet Unions. If the US were to take the Soviet tack on relations with allies we would have invaded France and Germany for opposing our plans in the security council. Statements like this are hysterical and bordering on the absurd.Other than that I liked the rest of what you had to say ;-)

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Shane: Thanks. I’m just the messenger, but perhaps I didn’t summarize accurately. I think Zakaria was saying that U.S. attempts to intimidate other countries into backing their position instils fear rather than consensus, and that that was also true of the Soviets’ activities w/r/t its neighbours. I don’t think he was saying that the U.S. was as bad as the Soviets in the severity of that intimidation. But as someone who lives in a country (Canada) that did not do as the U.S. demanded let me tell you, the overwhelming feeling of Canadians (78%) is profound fear, bordering on terror, of economic and political retaliation from the U.S. It’s not mere accident that the neocons in the U.S. released a poll showing that 30% of Americans favour ‘annexation’ of Canada.

  4. Shane says:

    Hmmm, only 30%? I’d think after we were called ‘Bastards’ publically by Canadian government officials and our hockey teams were booed in Canada not once, but twice, that the number in favor of annexation would be even higher! (That’s tongue in cheek in case anyone misses my inference).Actions all have consequences, for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Unfortunately there may be some retaliation for Canada’s opposition to the war, it seems this has already started with Bush II cancelling his trip to Ottawa. This is to be expected but the strong economic, cultural and linguistic ties between our two nations will continue to bind us together. As it says at the Blaine border crossing 2 hours from Seattle, “Children of a Common Mother”.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Shane: We’ll see, I guess. Regime change in the U.S. solved the friction last time (with Bush I), and hopefully the same solution will work next year. Relations between Clinton & Chretien, and in fact between all U.S. Democrat/ Canadian Liberal heads of state since WW2 have always been very warm and respectful. But I would say that re-election of Bush II would be disastrous for U.S./Canada relations, taking us back to the openly hostility of the Nixon / Trudeau era during the Vietnam War. As for Blaine, I was strip-searched there by U.S. INS officials, had my medication seized and was turned back because they ‘didn’t like the look of me’, back in those bad-old Vietnam War days. The same abusive and arbitrary treatment of Canadians by the INS has resumed under Bush II.

Comments are closed.