American Proscenium

Democracy or Liberty

For some, the drafting of the Iraqi constitution has called to mind America’s founding.   But whether any constitution will deliver liberty or democracy to Iraq’s people remains tragically uncertain.

The failure of Washington to find WMDs in Iraq or to link Baghdad to anti-U.S. terrorism forced the Bush administration to find an alternate justification for the war.  The President and many of his supporters settled on democracy promotion, effectively stealing Woodrow Wilson’s disastrous legacy from the Democratic Party.

Nowhere has the democratic process been watched more closely than in Iraq.  Lebanese elections have dampened Syrian influence, but at the cost of moving anti-American politicians center stage.

Small Saudi Arabian reform moves have aided fundamentalists more than liberals.  The leaders of Egypt and Pakistan do little more than mouth democratic platitudes, but real elections would likely aid anti-American jihadists.

Iraq, however, is Washington’s showcase—liberated, occupied, and recreated by U.S. troops.  If coercive nation building can succeed anywhere, it should be in Iraq.

Elections for a transitional government began the process.  Alas, Washington’s candidate, interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, developed no serious popular following.  Despite complaints in Washington about ungrateful clients, the Iraqis...

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