Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Democracy Starts from the Bottom Up

It is possible that George W Bush learned something during the troop surge, and his last visit to Iraq. That something is that Democracy starts from the bottom up.

As far as I can tell, Bush's post war strategy went little beyond the idea that Iraq would have an election, after which we would then provide services to the wonderful people in a wonderful centralized, but elected government.

That central government, of course, proved to do little more beyond reflect the deep divides that Saddam Hussein used to maintain his dictatorial control. The government has proven itself largely ineffective.

The troop surge has our military working more directly with the people. This working with the people resonates in a better way than the top down approach.

The surge highlights a potential path to a free Iraq. If the surge provides a sufficient drop in violence so that NGOs could move in to work with the people, the country could see itsself on the way to recovery.

Unfortunately, so many powerful forces around the world now have a vested interest in defeat (such as the Democratic Party) that such process only have a slim possibility of success. That is unless someone can figure out a way to bring these disenfranchised groups on board to a real nation rebuilding effort.

A Democratic candidate probably would do well if they took the tact that they wound simply start the relations with the mideast at the point where Bush leaves off, and they they would concentrate primarily on ground up reconstruction efforts and can the idea that top down military coups bring peace.

I don't think that this could really happen. First of all, I don't think the Democrats are any better at building from the ground up than Republicans. The power structure of the Democratic party sees the people as something that you buy off, and not something you build up. The very fact that the left is fully committed to socialized medicine is a case in point. Socialized medicine doesn't build people up, it just transfers greater power to the center by buying people off.

The Anbar trip may have reminded Bush of something that he had forgotten. Democracy is about the people and it is about building a society from the bottom up. The top down structure falls when it does not have a firm foundation with the people.

On an end note, I thought I would highlight a really cool presentation by the Multinational Forces that show the Iraqi Provinces.


Charles D said...

Let me get this straight. The whole idea that setting up a democratic government (well, at least kind of democratic since the election was held under foreign occupation in violation of international law) failed. So now we should kill enough Iraqis to lower the level of violence so that NGO's can "work with the people"?

What work are they supposed to do? We could have left right after the invasion and turned things over to the UN and the NGOs in May 2003, but that has never been the plan.

You seem to overlook the rationale for the war in your prescription. You are right that democracy is a bottom-up proposition, that's why it cannot be imposed at the point of a gun and why you can't solve internal rivalries by shooting people.

The surge is counter-productive. If we just get out then the Iraqi people can call in whomever they want to help them and get on with their lives. Our grandchildren will still be paying the reparations for Bush's stupidity.

y-intercept said...

Uh, actually I think turning the country over to NGOs was the plan. The plan didn't work because of a lack of the security, and the NGOs weren't all that interested in cleaning up after Bush anyway. There was kind of an NGO strike.

I didn't really make a proposal. I just noted that successes Bush claims from the surge seem to be coming from the bottom up. BTW, your proposal sounds far more naive than my noting that Bush discovered the obvious. You said:

"the Iraqi people can call in whomever they want to help"

Unless we find a way to leave in a position of strength, the Iraqis will not have the ability to decide anything.

"the Iraqi people can call in whomever they want to help"

Your statement also ignores the fact there are Iraqis who are asking us to stay. The left wants us to ignore pleas for help in the naive notion that anyone group willing to kill millions to get power must be an authentic people's revolution.

An elected government has asked us to stay and provide security until it is possible to transfer that power under Iraqi control. The left proposes that we ignore this group.

If we were smart, we would have a referendum and asked the people what they want. They keep saying that they desparately want security.

You are completely correct that the world will be suffering from Bush's decision for generations. However, we aren't just suffering from Bush's ineptitude, the real source of our suffering is that his ineptitude put the Democrats back in power, which means a bleak future for all but the empowered elite.

Charles D said...

If turning the country over to the NGOs was the plan, it could easily have been accomplished BEFORE the security situation went belly up. It was not because that has never been the plan.

Of course the "elected government" wants us to stay. They have been labeled as cooperating with the occupation forces and will no doubt be killed or forced to leave the country if the US leaves. The polls clearly show that over 80% of Iraqis want the US out.

The real suffering we have is not just Bush's idiotic misadventure in Iraq (probably to be followed soon by an even more idiotic misadventure in Iran), nor is it the lack of leadership of the Democratic Party and their virtual capitulation to Bush. The real issue is that we no longer have a Constitutional government and we no longer have a viable road back to such a government. The great experiment of the American Republic is over, and both parties share the responsibility for that failure.