Expat Yank reports on a BBC interview of American University professor Allan Lichtman this morning. The BBC interviewer, Dermot Murnaghan, seems to think that if Iraqi elections produce a government that is oppressive or threatening and we oppose them, we will be hypocrites. Apparently, “majority rules” is the only rule that matters.
Expat Yank points out that Germans were free to elect whoever they wanted after the end of the Second World War, even though free elections had produced that one short guy with the funny mustache. How did the Allies deal with the threat of a repeat performance by the Germans, who didn’t really have a good track record with the neighbors?
After the war, the Nazis were banned. (West) Germans reformed and reorganized their parties of the left, and on the center-right new parties arose. And if the (West) Germans ever considered for a moment re-empowering a version of another Nazi party, does Murnaghan and the BBC really believe for an instant that the Allies — the British, Americans and French — would have permitted it? Or should have permitted it?
The same is probably going to be true for Iraq. With the smashing of the dictator, the goal is now to being to help regularize Iraq’s politics over the years to come.
Of course, Iraqis will be free to vote and organize political parties. And their new government will have real power.
But will they be free to elect a government espousing the same views, and dedicated to the same causes and planning similar actions as the ousted Hussein regime? Yes, Iraqis will probably have to be permitted to elect to posts former, low-level regime members, as Germans were permitted to empower former low-level Nazis, and former Nazi soldiers whom the Allies had considered non-threatening. But “hard core” Nazis were prevented from ever re-entering political life. The same is likely to be the case in Iraq.
We must remember that we are not freeing Iraq and helping them convert to a democracy for the sake of it. We are doing it because it is in our interest that Iraq (and the Middle East in general) become a stable place where the people have more to look forward to in life than suicide attacks against civilians or US Marines. If it was in our best interest to rule Iraq with an iron fist, we would do so. If it was in our best interest to turn Iraq into a sea of glass, we would do so. If it would have been in our best interest to leave Saddam in power, we would have done so.
Democracy can be a wonderful thing. As long as the Iraqis play nice, they’re invited to the party. If they get out of line, we will not stand by and let them revert to their former state. Remember, Saddam enjoyed overwhelming victories at the polls. To suggest that we honor such elections, or any elections which threaten us or the world at large, is not rational.