Will Iraq’s Democracy Vindicate Bush?

March 8th, 2010 at 8:33 am David Frum | 56 Comments |

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My latest column for CNN.com discusses this weekend’s successful Iraqi elections and the prospect that Iraq’s democracy could be a model for the region.

A stable Western-oriented Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors would be a great prize. If that future does take hold, we’ll learn the answer to another great question.

Speaking on the eve of war in 2003, President George W. Bush told the guests at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner that he discerned ‘hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East. Arab intellectuals have called on Arab governments to address the ‘freedom gap’ so their peoples can fully share in the progress of our times.

‘Leaders in the region speak of a new Arab charter that champions internal reform, greater politics participation, economic openness, and free trade. And from Morocco to Bahrain and beyond, nations are taking genuine steps toward politics reform. A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.’

Will he be vindicated?

Click here to read the rest.

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56 Comments so far ↓

  • Carney

    balconesfault, it’s unfortunate that Iraqi security services are apparently backsliding in some cases to Third World norms, especially under the pressure of an incredibly vicious and murderous terrorism threat and imminent US departure. Still, some perspective is in order rather than gleefully obsessive focus on downsides and gloom-and-doom, all designed to lower morale, justify abandonment, and de-legitimize liberation.

    Is there no mention of the dramatically improved security situation? Some aggressive tactics are called for given the kind of deadly havoc Al Qaeda and Iran were making.

    And it’s quite stupid to say that excesses by Iraqi security are “old habits” continuing from the Saddam era, because the security services are dominated by Shi’ites, who had no power under Saddam.

    The bottom line is that Iraq is no longer a Republic of Fear, a Stalinist nightmare under which genocide was a real threat, in which the state was an openly boastful sponsor of international terrorism, which had been caught lying before about WMD, and which was an enemy of the US. Furthermore, it seems to be running free and fair elections on a regular basis (with extremists coming up on the short end), and adhering to their results.

  • balconesfault

    balconesfault, it’s unfortunate that Iraqi security services are apparently backsliding in some cases to Third World norms, especially under the pressure of an incredibly vicious and murderous terrorism threat

    One could say that the “incredibly vicious and murderous terrorism threat” was only subdued during the Saddam years by his tyranny.

    The bottom line is that Iraq is no longer a Republic of Fear, a Stalinist nightmare under which genocide was a real threat, in which the state was an openly boastful sponsor of international terrorism, which had been caught lying before about WMD, and which was an enemy of the US.

    If Iraq is no longer a Republic of Fear, I imagine our diplomats no longer need mercenary forces to protect them, right? Genocide was most certainly a reality under Saddam, but the ethnic cleansing that took place under our watch over the last decade certainly rivalled that … to the point where most neighborhoods now are completely homogenous enclaves protecting Shiites from Sunnis from Kurds.

    Saddam’s sponsorship for international terrorism extended no further than payments to families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Don’t make it sound like he was funding Contras who were out killing nuns or something.

    Saddam had lied about WMDs. That puts him in the ballpark with GW Bush.

    He was an enemy of the US. Then again, as I noted above, the Iraq government going forward is likely to be a close ally of Iran … while Saddam was a direct rival and opponent of Iranian expansion of influence.

    Nice trade.

  • agentprovocateur

    “agentprovocateur, you’re off-script.”

    Not really. Nice try, though. Your primary rationale for this war was not the main one used to sell it, as that would have been a nonstarter. Rather, the WMD argument was the main one, and, as subsequent events have proven, there was no smoking gun turning into a mushroom cloud.

    “Still, some perspective is in order rather than gleefully obsessive focus on downsides and gloom-and-doom, all designed to lower morale, justify abandonment, and de-legitimize liberation.”

    Who knew that pointing out facts on the ground is considered having a “gleefully obsessive focus on downsides and gloom-and-doom”. Actually, if the Bush Administration had taken a closer look at the potential downsides and possible gloom-and-doom of invasion and occupation, the last seven years in Iraq might have had a lot less bloodshed, corruption, and rank incompetence, among many other bad outcomes.

  • Independent

    balconsefault keeps the lie a’going with: “Saddam’s sponsorship for international terrorism extended no further than payments to families of Palestinian suicide bombers”.

    Not so, our farLeft troll.

    Today’s news uncovers that Saddam Hussein, the guy you’ve championed here as just a misunderstood pawn in the Bush hegemony plot against the Sunni nation (sigh), tried to buy nuke weapons as late as 1990, used WMDs on his own people throughout his regime and worked hard to build a short-range missle platform that could deliver said WMDs and nukes to Israel or –alternatively– to US allies in the Middle East.

    When will the farLeft trolls at FF stop lying? When it’s all they’ve got, probably never.

  • balconesfault

    Today’s news uncovers that Saddam Hussein, the guy you’ve championed here as just a misunderstood pawn in the Bush hegemony plot against the Sunni nation (sigh), tried to buy nuke weapons as late as 1990, used WMDs on his own people throughout his regime and worked hard to build a short-range missle platform that could deliver said WMDs and nukes to Israel or –alternatively– to US allies in the Middle East.

    I thought the term farLeft troll was patented by MI-GOPer. You might want to pay him royalties on that.

    Nobody has championed Saddam as a “misunderstood pawn” – and you are an absolute idiot if that’s the takeaway you get from arguments that Saddam wasn’t the threat to the US that Bush/Cheney claimed him to be.

    I’m not surprised that Saddam tried to buy nukes as recently as 1990. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had brought the subject up with Rumsfeld during one of their discussions over transfer of American WMD technology to help him keep the Iranians at bay.

    We know that Saddam used WMDs on his own people. He was a bad dude, willing to kill however many people it took for him to remain in power. And torture many more. Because killing and torture for him were ok if needed to preserve his security. That’s what made him a bad dude.

    Yes, he was building delivery systems to be able to strike Israel. Then again, Israel did fly missions over his country to blow things up back in the 80′s. If someone had done that to me, I would want to establish credible deterrence, whether I was a bad guy or good guy.

    Note that nothing in your screed addressed the issue of “sponsorship for international terrorism”.

    Are you too stupid to even realize that?

  • Carney

    balconesfault claimed, “Saddam’s sponsorship for international terrorism extended no further than payments to families of Palestinian suicide bombers.”

    Completely wrong. He also openly hosted Abu Nidal, the most notorious pre-9/11 terrorist in the world. He had an aircraft fuselage that various defectors reported was used for hijacking practice. He was the only world leader to openly praise 9/11, for God’s sake.

    “Saddam had lied about WMDs. That puts him in the ballpark with GW Bush.”

    This is just stupid. THINK about this stupid, outrageous, vicious slander for 30 seconds. If Bush lied, that means he knew there were no WMD in Iraq, but whipped up a war frenzy on a false premise he KNEW would be exposed as false within weeks after liberation. And thus that Bush was knowingly setting himself up for catastrophic, humiliating damage to his and America’s credibility and political standing.

    The usual responses this gets are that:

    1) Bush is a drooling idiot and can’t foresee the consequences of his actions. Come on. He may have a Western twang, a rich fratboy smugness, a fighter pilot swagger, and his father’s gene for mangled syntax, but he’s not an idiot. And that doesn’t explain Cheney.

    2) Bush was counting on being able to get away with in the euphoria of victory. Please. Bush lived through Vietnam – he knew quite well how anti-American and anti-military the media are. More relevantly he saw how much the crushing victory his father won in 1991 proved useless in 1992. In fact, his father’s political ruin coming from the violated tax pledge traumatized Bush, who vowed never to make that mistake.