[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Goodbye Iraqi Democracy
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] Some considered it a reasonable objective. Others a long shot, a dream and a hope. Still others, the cynics, thought it was an unobtainable delusion.

The “it” is the concept of democracy in Iraq. The idea was that all Iraqis, including Shias, Sunnis and Kurds would go to the polls and vote for members of a legislature and perhaps a president to rule the country. After all, democracy in this form doesn’t exist merely in the United States. Many other countries, including France, India and Israel follow this model.

Democracy, its adherents claimed, would not only ensure stability for Iraq but convert that nation into a beacon for governmental reform in the Arab world. Those who have been reading my columns in Military.com over the last several months know that I was in the cynics camp.

The idea of Iraqis lining up peacefully outside of a school or a governmental office to cast ballots always seemed to be inconceivable in a land lacking any democratic tradition and where animosities among the three major communities run so strong. Moreover, with Shia having sixty percent of the population, the idea of one person/one vote would mean Shia dominance. With a strong fundamentalist Islamic force in control, Iraq would be converted into a theocracy.

This would be unacceptable to Sunnis, Kurds, many women and other minorities. Moreover, such a theocracy would hardly be in the best interests of the United States. We already have one in Iran, which is a thorn in the side of the United States. The thought that we would have created a second Iran is too horrible to imagine.

When the U.S. turned over power to an interim Iraqi government, a tight timeline was drawn up, leading toward elections in January. Some of these interim dates have been postponed already. Others will be impossible to make.

Postponing the scheduled dates means that democracy won’t be coming to Iraq any time soon. The reality is that Iraqi democracy is headed for the garbage heap of discarded policies, which our government tried to impose on others.

We shouldn’t be shedding any tears for the abandonment of Iraqi democracy. Not when the result would have been another Islamic theocracy.

This isn’t to say that it wasn’t worth fighting a war to topple Saddam Hussein. The man was a cruel and despicable monster. Tens of thousands who were murdered, tortured or raped bear witness to that. With Saddam gone, there is at least a possibility of a better life for millions of Iraqis.

But the quality of life in the country will only improve if there is stability. That means laws and order. It means the delivery of vital services like water and electricity. The question then becomes what form of government can ensure that? Let’s not look to Western Europe and the United States. Instead, we should look to the Arab Middle East for models. Take Egypt, Jordan and Syria for example. We may not like the obvious conclusion. But what produces stability is a strong man as the ruler assisted by a powerful army.

In the interim Iraq Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the U.S. may have found a good candidate to rule. Allawi has shown boldness and strength. He is a Shiite with Sunni ties. He understands the importance of a strong Iraqi military.

But there can be no stability while lawlessness rages in the country. Allawi is prepared to try and quell the insurrection of Al-Sadr and his Mahdi army, which is a critical first step toward the goal of stability. Allawi is willing to use U.S. troops to assist the Iraqis.

At this point, the question isn’t whether Allawi has the will. It is whether the recently cobbled together Iraqi army, aided by American troops, can do the job. Fighting wars against regular armies is a lot easier than quelling insurrections. Narrow alleys are far more dangerous than open desert.

Only time will tell if Allawi can succeed. But for now the United States should ride that horse.