The United States has been trying for years to impose its vision of democracy on nations in the Middle East, on countries that neither want anything to do with it or are so mired in ancient conflict, that U.S. democracy is a suspicious and unwanted concept.
The Sunnis and Shiites in Muslim countries have totally different views of Islam, which have led to centuries of turmoil and conflict. As ironic and pathetic as it is true, it was only the vicious murderer Saddam Hussein and his cronies that kept the two Muslim divisions from constant bloody conflict in Iraq.
The same was true in Libya and Egypt. Only in Tunisia is there arguably some sense of democracy as an outgrowth of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
Many blame the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria and the rise of ISIS on President Obama — and to a certain extent this is true. You don’t unilaterally withdraw from a nation mired in centuries of conflict without assuring the proper safeguards are in place — and claim democracy as the savior.
Those of us who have some familiarity with the geographic area, where somewhat surprised when Obama made a speech in Cairo near the start of his presidency. To some, it was a sign of things to come; to others it was at the very least a sign of extreme naiveté.
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Later in his speech he addressed Iraq directly. It needs to be noted that the speech was made on June 4, 2009 :
“Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.”
Democracy — like its polar opposite Communism — are Utopian concepts. A recent article in Foreign Policy magazine addressed how do we think we can try to impose democracy on others when we no longer truly practice it ourselves.
“What Americans probably don’t realize, though, is that we aren’t the only ones to feel disillusioned. The rest of the world’s countries tend to pay far more attention to us than we do to them, and they’ve noticed what a mess our society is in. I’m not just talking here about the usual agonizing over American ‘declinism,’ the general perception of diminished U.S. influence around the globe. I have a more specific problem in mind: America’s dwindling attractiveness as a model of democracy.”
So, what does this have to do with the original premise of U.S. democracy being partially responsible for the Islamic State? It is because we tried to impose democracy on an area where democracy is impossible and in turn left the rival sects to their own devices.
Let me say that this is not just an indictment of Obama, but of our desire to prove our way is the right way.
President Bush supported the right for Gaza to have free elections — and we all know what happened there.