The Bushies are betting a lot on the January election, even though a Shiite-dominated government will further alienate the Sunnis – and even though Iraq may be run by an Iranian-influenced ayatollah. That would mean that Iraq would have a leadership legitimized by us to hate us.
Aside from his scintilla of candor, Mr. Bush is still not leveling with us. As he said at his press conference on Monday, “the enemies of freedom” know that “a democratic Iraq will be a decisive blow to their ambitions because free people will never choose to live in tyranny.”
They may choose to live in a theocracy, though. Americans did.
There is much to dislike about this war in Iraq, but there is no denying the stakes. And that picture really framed them: this is a war between some people in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world who – for the first time ever in their region – are trying to organize an election to choose their own leaders and write their own constitution versus all the forces arrayed against them.
However this war started, however badly it has been managed, however much you wish we were not there, do not kid yourself that this is not what it is about: people who want to hold a free and fair election to determine their own future, opposed by a virulent nihilistic minority that wants to prevent that. That is all that the insurgents stand for.
As is so often the case, the statesman who framed the stakes best is the British prime minister, Tony Blair. Count me a “Blair Democrat.” Mr. Blair, who was in Iraq this week, said: “Whatever people’s feelings or beliefs about the removal of Saddam Hussein and the wisdom of that, there surely is only one side to be on in what is now very clearly a battle between democracy and terror. On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, and want to have the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, and on the other side people who are killing and intimidating and trying to destroy a better future for Iraq.”
Friedman is still a Bush apologist, busily constructing rationales for a war that cannot be rationalized. He tries to make an argument that the ends justify the means in Iraq, and despite all the lies, the illegal invasion, the use of banned weapons like napalm and perhaps chemical weapons in Fallujah, the slaughter of 100,000 civilians, the torture, the summary executions, the multitude of war crimes, the massive corruption under the CPA, the hand-picked puppets running the Interim Government – ignore all this because Iraq is striving to become a democratic beacon in the dark night of the Middle East.
Except it’s not. It will not become a democracy. If Iraq survives as a single entitiy and is organized along any governing principle at all that governing principle will be theocracy.