How’s that for an argument?
Yes, you read right: Because the Americans "had no real plan" for the occupation, or everything went hay-wire and not according to plan, there is a better chance for real democracy to take hold.
Regime change only happens after a fight. Governments outside of democracies usually won’t give up power without violence or a threat of violence. And if someone is willing to die for a change of government, it means they really want it and will fight for its existence: Freedom isn’t free.
It is an accepted truism that “revolution must come from within.” And democracy is a very finicky system. It needs to be constantly kept in check and to be constantly protected from falling apart. And it will usually only be protected, if people have fought very hard to build that democracy.
Although I supported the US war against Iraq, I wasn’t so sure about turning Iraq into a democracy. To me it seemed too simplistic, and it goes against all the principles of what a democracy is.
However, I thought it would be criminal for the US to go into Iraq, screw up their system of government, however corrupt and horrific it was, just to turn around and say: “okay, guys, here’s your country back…good luck putting it all together.” It was clear that the US was going to have to help in some way.
The important factor in creating a democratic Iraq is the Iraqi citizens taking responsibility. They have to want it and work for it. They have to stand up against those who threaten the creation of a democracy. The US can not be in Iraq forever. The US military presence in Iraq, should be seen as a crutch. It is helping Iraq get back on its feet again, but Iraq needs to flex its political muscles and get strong enough to stand on its own. Otherwise, as soon as the US pulls out of Iraq, the democracy would just crumble.
As an example: the success of the German occupation and resulting Federal Republic of Germany was actually partly credited to the chronic understaffing of capable civil affairs officers. If one looks at the actual “plans” the US had for post-war Germany, they failed miserably in many areas, but succeeded in their final goal of turning Germany into a peaceful and democratic country. However, this was despite many American efforts, and not because of them. America actually wanted to “Americanize” Germany in many ways. Because of the lack of enough officers and US personnel to govern, a lot of responsibility was given to Germans town committees. These committees really became the backbone of the democracy which then flourished in the war torn country, which was thus truly a German homegrown democracy and not an American implanted democracy. The American occupation in Germany was a completely different situation than what is now occurring in Iraq, however one can be encouraged by its success, despite very different American plans.
Most Iraqis have been excluded from the political process for the last 30 years or so, so there is a complete lack of politicians. [Okay, no jokes here about that being a good thing.] Now Iraqis are learning to and getting to take part in the political process again.
The Iraqi Expat has a good post
explaining his view of the effects of 45 years of history on the Iraqi mentality:[...] Now think about all that, the turbulence of 60s, the elimination of the politicians from the 60s onward, the uneducated low-class that became the masters, the low life criminals that became common, the immorality that were taught and the imprisonment that made the people unaware of how people live outside Iraq's borders; all that takes time to repair, it is damaging and it is slowing the realization of freedom and democracy, but it will not stop it. [...]
The security in Iraq is not that good, to say the least. There are daily kidnappings, shootings, bombings, etc. Some people call it the Wild West. The US and other coalition forces are doing their part in trying to establish peace. Some say they are not doing enough, there has to be more American soldiers there. But I disagree. I think that if the US provides too much security, what reason do the Iraqis have to fight? And how are the Iraqi security forces going to learn? This is a trial by fire situation.
A year ago, the Iraqi police and National Guard were notorious for their disorganization and fear in the face of danger, but gradually we are seeing more progress. They are standing up to criminals, instead of running away. They are becoming more disciplined; they are becoming more like their American counterparts. The January elections were also a turning point, where Iraqis proved to themselves and the world that they were willing to fight for their political freedom, and they weren’t going to be terrorized into submission anymore.
There are many maxims to military life, and here are two: “There is no such thing as a perfect plan”, and “Field experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.” And I think they both apply very well to the situation in Iraq. There can’t be a perfect plan for the US mission in Iraq, and the Iraqis can’t gather experience in a democracy until that democracy is actually created through a democratic process.
It is violent in Iraq right now, but most revolutions are. And for the US to help too much in providing security and guidelines would be detrimental to Iraq’s future. Once Iraq has established democracy and security, the rest of the world can have confidence in the Iraqis, because it will have also been their efforts that created the democracy, and not just the US’.