Friday, March 03, 2006

Who's forcing democracy on the Iraqis?


Robert Kaplan is worried that Americans are "forcing" democracy on an Iraq that doesn't want it.
Francis Fukuyama fears the same.

For the January 2005 election, Iraqi voter turnout was 58%.
For the October 2005 on a democratic Constitution, Iraqi voter turnout ran over 60%.
For the December 2005 ballot CBS reported Iraqi turnout at about 70%.

We might contrast the Iraqis, who allegedly are having democracy forced upon them, with the Americans: for the American presidential election of 2004, voter turnout was 60%, and that was the highest American turnout since 1968. And Americans didn't have to run the risk of being blown-up by Al Qaeda terrorists when they went to the polls. If you had to judge, you'd be hard pressed to prove that Americans are more committed to democracy than the Iraqis.

Here's what the Iraqis told the Brookings Poll:

"Q: Do you think Iraq today is heading in the right direction?
Iraqis who answered "yes": Overall = 64%; Kurds = 76%; Shiia = 84%; Sunni = 6%


Q: Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the U.S.-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it?
Iraqis who answered "yes": Overall = 77%; Kurds = 91%; Shiia = 98%; Sunni = 13%" (HT: Andrew Sullivan).

If Americans were as optimistic about Iraq as the people who actually live there, the entire debate on the war would be different. We hear much about the loss of American soldiers in Iraq, and that remains an on-going sadness. But the Iraqis have paid a far higher price than Americans have, both in absolute numbers and in percentage terms, and their conviction that freedom has been worth it runs far deeper than many American opinion leaders. Maybe the people of Iraq know more about what's going on in their country than ABC, CBS, NBC, and the New York Times.

If Americans were as convinced that the war has been worth it as the Iraqis are, the entire political landscape would be different. Those who argue that we are "forcing" democracy on the Iraqis might have to face the point that the Iraqis are very eager for exactly what the liberation of Iraq has brought them.

And this is the real choice facing the American people in 2006: On the one side, we have the Iraqi people, who after decades of suffering under Saddam Hussein, are risking their lives for freedom. On the other side, we have Al Qaeda terrorists and ex-Hussein Sunni loyalists, who see a return to dictatorship.

Do we hand Iraq back to the terrorists or do we stand and fight for democracy?

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UPDATE: thanks for the link to Hugh Hewitt!

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