April 24, 2003

Regime Change


Fox News reports: Iraqi Shiite Pilgrims Criticize U.S. and White House Eyeing Iranian Influence Among Iraqi Shiites. Excerpt from latter article: [White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer] said Bush doesn't have a problem with Iraq being an Islamic state as long as it is a democratic and tolerant one. Officials point to the model of Turkey, a democratic nation run by an elected Islamic party that allows religious freedom. The United States opposes an Islamic dictatorship in Iraq, similar to that seen in Tehran, Fleischer said.

But a "democratic" state is not necessarily a "tolerant" one. Here are two good editorials about the type of government that should be established in Iraq:

The first is by Robert Tracinski of the Ayn Rand Institute: 'Iraqi Freedom' Requires Individual Rights. Excerpt: "The greatest threat to good government in Iraq is precisely that each tribal and religious faction will demand special favors, that the Shiites in the south will want a Khomeini-style theocracy, or that the Kurds will make a grab for control of the northern oil fields. This kind of political gang warfare between opposing factions is inevitable--so long as the government has the power to dispense such privileges. That is why it is crucial, for example, that the new Iraqi government enforce, not a balance of power between Sunnis and Shiites, but a separation of church and state."

The second editorial (via Capitalism Magazine) is from InterMarket Forecasting's Richard Salsman: Turning Iraq Into Another Iran. Excerpt: "The problem [of democracy] in Iraq is that 60% of the population consists of Shiite Muslims. They are more religious and more anti-American than the other two tribes (Kurd and Sunni) that comprise the population. The Shiites in Iraq are similar to those who run the dictatorial, terror-sponsoring theocracy in Iran. By deposing the Shah of Iran in 1979, the U.S. helped terrorist Shiites take hold of Iran. Will the U.S. now do the same thing in Iraq? It certainly will if it concedes to 'one-man, one-vote' in that country – with no constitution protecting individual rights. If that is the result, the U.S. will have wasted its war effort, by allowing an Iran-style government to develop next to Iran."

UPDATE APRIL 25: Indications are that the Bush Administration is not taking the principled approach advocated in the editorials above, which argue that a secular government based on individual rights should be established in Iraq, not a mere democracy. Though the headline is encouraging, this Fox News reports reveals a mixed message coming from the Administration: Rumsfeld: Iraqis Can Form Own Gov't, Just Not a Religious One.

Rumsfeld quote: "If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the answer is: That isn't going to happen."

Powell quote: After giving Pakistan as a positive example of an Islamic state, he asked: "Why ... cannot an Islamic form of government that has as its basis the faith of Islam not be democratic?"

Bush quote: "One thing is certain: We will not impose a government on Iraq. We will help that nation build a government of, by and for the Iraqi people."

These quotes cannot be reconciled. So which one is official policy?

Posted by Forkum at April 24, 2003 08:19 AM