‘Democracy,’ Iraqi-Style

Editor’s note: Justin Raimondo is traveling. His column will return Friday.

The participation of the Sunnis in Iraq’s recent election was hailed by the Bush administration and its supporters as a great victory for the war effort and solid evidence that the democratization of Iraq is a project worth pursuing – but it turns out that Shi’ite majority doesn’t agree. They have recently disqualified around 100 members of the Sunni party lists on the grounds that they were too close to the former Ba’athist regime. Imagine if the Republicans managed to grab hold of the judiciary, and got the Democrats thrown out of the race on the grounds that they are, after all, the traditional party of the Confederacy.

Tens of thousands of Sunni voters took to the streets to protest what they characterized as massive election fraud: even if some Sunnis still continued their boycott of the process, on election day in Iraq the dead rose from the grave and voted. According to the Washington Post, “Wael Abdul Latif, a candidate on Allawi’s list in the southern city of Basra, said that in one of the city’s polling places, ‘there were ballots in the names of a man and his son. It turned out both were dead.'” U.S. officials, as well as Sunni party spokesman, confirmed that intimidation by Shi’ite and Kurdish militias was widespread.

Once again, the pro-Iranian parties – the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Da’waswept the polls, and may even have enough seats in the Assembly to form a new government without the participation of the Kurds or the secular groups, in spite of the Ayatollah Sistani‘s call for a “government of national unity.” The secular parties, led by the U.S.-backed Iyad Allawi, did poorly, polling around 8 percent. Ahmad Chalabi, the neocons’ favorite son, got half a percent in the Baghdad area, and his party may wind up with no seats in the new legislature.

Also, once again, the Turkmen and Arabs of Kurdistan were prevented from voting in large numbers, ensuring Kurdidsh super-majorities in the northwestern Kurdish enclave – and exacerbating the rising conflict over control of oil-rich [.pdf] Kirkuk.

The idea that this election was going to be a milestone on the road to genuine democracy in Iraq never made much sense, and in view of the results it makes even less. Iraq is on a path to full-scale civil war, and the election, instead of papering over ethnic and religious divisions, has only underscored them. The insurgency, instead of being tamped down, now has a new grievance to rally its forces around and make new recruits: allegations of massive election fraud. The Iranians, for their part, have consolidated and even extended their growing influence, virtually ensuring, through the victory of Tehran-backed parties like SCIRI and Da’wa, that “democratic” Iraq will soon be an “Islamic republic.” No wonder the Iranians are now crowing that the elections were a victory for “Khomeini-ism.” Thanks to the US invasion, and the subsequent triumph of SCIRI, Da’wa, and the more radical Sadrists, Iran is now effectively in control of the Iraqi government.

On the face of it, this seems like a development of surpassing strangeness. After all, aren’t the Iranians our mortal enemies? Isn’t the US government denouncing them on a daily basis as a dire threat to the peace of the Middle East? To hear US officials tell it, Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power and is rapidly falling into the hands of crazed radicals, such as the newly-installed President, who has reportedly called for wiping Israel off the map.

If we step back, however, and look at the balance of forces in the region, there is a certain logic to the American strategy. The rise of a Shi’ite super-state in the midst of a formerly Sunni-dominated Middle East means that the Muslim world is divided against itself – an outcome that can only be favorable to the Crusader-invaders. Forget the BS about “democracy” and “freedom,” and look only at what the folly of our policy actually achieves: a regional religious civil war, endless strife, and the prospect of continued American military intervention as far as the eye can see. Look beyond Iraq: to Syria, and even to Saudi Arabia, where restive Shi’ites could form the basis of a future move to destabilize the Saudi monarchy. Look to Lebanon, where the same sort of ethnic divisions that bedevil Iraq are the order of the day: that is the future of Iraq, and much of the region. The atomization of existing Muslim-Arab states, regional civil war, and, of course, an overbearing and permanent American military presence to keep the pot from boiling over – this is what we have to look forward to.

And it isn’t pretty.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].