Since 2003, the United States has waged its war against Iraq. It has had several successes—it managed to depose Saddam Hussein, the former leader of the country, enabled the holding of elections, and extend its presence in the Gulf region. Apparently, President Bush seeks to duplicate his father’s successes in the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. But President Bush is on the losing ground both in the US and in Iraq. The US government should plan a gradual withdrawal of its troops from Iraq and look at other means of helping Iraq develop its own brand of democracy.
No significant store of weapons of mass destruction was found in Iraq, belying the claims of the US President of their existence. As such, the war against Iraq was based on a flimsy but costly foundation. The US effectively bypassed the authority of the United Nations in arbitrating conflicts between and among nations. Such a move almost undermined the authority of the United Nations and showed to the world the kind of unilateralism of the United States (Mann, 210). In addition to this, the US also required its allies to back up its plan. It even used the carrot or stick method by saying that those who are not with the US are against the US. The world watched as the US, together with several allies, occupied Iraq in the name of its being the International Police.
The removal of Saddam Hussein and his government paved the way for the US to transport its version of democracy into the Iraqi society. The US then facilitated the democratic election in Iraq, including women in the process. Although it is a worthy cause, the readiness of the Iraqi society for such a move was not taken into account. Another criticism directed to the U.S. is its interest in securing the oil of the Middle East for its own economic and political needs (Mann, 215). In order to accomplish this, the US needs a government that is friendly to its cause and to its interests. The presence of the US in the region is also an effective means for it to observe other countries that it considers terrorist, such as Iran.
Because of cultural and religious differences, the American style of democracy imposed suddenly upon Iraqis may create additional tensions and short-circuits the process of state building in Iraq (Jeffrey, 455). States with powerful international presence, since the end of the Cold War, have made it their policy to do such. This act, however, presents a challenge to the country whose governments have been forcibly removed and replaced, just like Bosnia and Iraq. Even if the formal institutions of democracy are in place, there are still other factors that must be taken into account for democracy to work. For one, the civil society has to be active as both a cooperating and countervailing power to the State since it promotes the participation of citizens in the affairs of governance (Jeffrey, 450). For Iraq, even though it has the look of a democracy, it is still rife with civil and military strife, and lacks various institutions that foster the development of democracy. On the other hand, even granted the good intentions of the U.S., would it have been much better if the Iraqis empowered themselves and rid themselves of a ruthless dictator?
The US is losing its military service personnel. As of August 2007, the death toll is is at 3,705 (Damon, Tawfeeq & Razek n.p.). This is a staggering number and a loss for American families! It is also creating instability in the American society. Perhaps the world is witnessing another Vietnam, where body bags keep on pouring back into the US. It is high time the US government took a serious look at the prospect in Iraq. It should also consider other means of ensuring that democracy grows in Iraq rather than enforcing it with military might. But given the crumbling foundation for waging the war and the toll it is exacting from the American society, the troops should go home. And soon.
Damon, Arwa, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Raja Razek. Coalition Death Toll in Iraq Hits 4,000. Cable News Network, 2007. [Online}
Jeffrey, Alex. The Politics of ‘Democratization’: Lessons from Bosnia and Iraq. Review of International Political Economy 14.3 (2007): 444-466.
Mann, Michael. Incoherent Empire. New York: Verso, 2005.