One of the things that surprised me after the invasion of Iraq was how many people were surprised at the announcement that out goal was democratization. It had always struck me that the idea of focibly changing the political culture of the Middle East was the underlying motivation behind the war.
But a lot of people argue that no, the entire argument was over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Neither the president nor the pro-war pundits promoted democratization as a major goal until after the invasion.
Very well. I will go on the lookout for things that were written prior to the war in Iraq to prove that the idea of democratization was a major goal.
Exhibit 1: In Praise of the Bush Doctrine by Norman Podhoretz, dated September 2002.
In this aticle, while he does mention the WMD issue, two things are clear:
(i) He views Iraq not as a war in and of itself, but as a stepping stone to the conquest and re-shaping of the Middle East.
(ii) He very much views changing the political culture as the primary goal of our Middle East venture rather than an afterthought (as in, after we remove Saddam, we need something to replace him, so it might as well be democracy). Granted, he is not in favor of the immediate institution of democratic trappings as Bush turned out to be, but it is obvious that he wants to imposition of a secular democracy in the Middle Eastern countries, and furthermore, regards it as eminently doable.
In other words, as in Afghanistan and Iran, changes of regime are the sine qua non throughout the region.
Obviously it would be foolish to anticipate an overnight conversion to democracy and free markets. But I would argue that what might realistically be expected is the creation of conditions that would point in that direction... why should Islam alone forever be exempt from the processes that affected Judaism and Christianity before it?
The regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown and replaced... should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as... the Saudi royal family and Egypts Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority...
There was a song that became popular in America during World War II: We did it before, and we can do it again. What I am trying to say to the skeptics and the defeatists of today is that yes indeed we did it before; and yes indeed we can do it again. yria and Lebanon and Libya... the Saudi royal family and Egypts Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority...
There is no denying that the alternative to these regimes could easily turn out to be worse, even (or especially) if it comes into power through democratic elections...
Nevertheless, there is a policy that can head it off, provided that the United States has the will to fight World War IV, the war against militant Islam to a successful conclusion, and provided, too, that we then have the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated parties. This is what we did directly and unapologetically in Germany and Japan after winning World War II... and it is George W. Bush's ultimate aim in World War IV.
I will try to continue this series, and for each new entry will put links in to previous ones.
That is all. For now.