US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today sketched out his vision of a post-Saddam Iraq. He said it would be a country that was not attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And, he said it would have a government that tended toward what we would think of as a democracy, but that neither a US or a British template would be imposed on it. It would be authentically Iraqi. He gave the example of the Loya Jirga (tribal council) in Afghanistan that made Hamid Karzai president of that country last summer.
I find all this extremely dismaying. First of all, either Iraq is going to have a representative, parliamentary government, or it is not. The UK *is* the template for that. Its parliament is not called the “mother of parliaments” for nothing. When we say India is a democracy or Australia is a democracy, it is because they have a parliamentary template! There is no indigenous “Iraqi” form of “democracy” that would pass muster in today’s world. I am afraid that if Rumsfeld is talking this way, what the Defense Department really intends to impose on Iraq is some form of authoritarian rule that has enough trappings of public consent that it can be fobbed off on the rest of us as vaguely democratic.
His choice of Afghanistan as an example was particularly inept. The Loya Jirga turns out to have been a mugging. The warlords and the secret police ran that thing and ensured a pre-ordained outcome. The “delegates” hadn’t been elected by the people. In its aftermath, Karzai has gotten to be mayor of Kabul, with powerful warlords running Herat and Mazar, etc. There continues to be faction-fighting and Taliban-like oppression of women. The country is fragmented. If this is what Rumsfeld foresees for Iraq, then he is taking us into a huge catastrophe.