Failed US pol­icy in Mid­dle East by ex­port­ing democ­racy manu mil­i­tari

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Opinion - *As­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Univer­sity of Turk­ish Aero­nau­ti­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, Ankara

Fol­low­ing the Sept. 11, 2001 at­tacks, U.S. for­eign pol­icy was driven by the im­per­a­tive to in­ter­vene in the Mid­dle East, which is con­sid­ered the cra­dle of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, to ex­port democ­racy and pro­vide se­cu­rity. This doc­trine led to a mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Iraq to re­move Sad­dam Hus­sein and his Baathist regime and es­tab­lish lib­eral val­ues as a first step of a demo­cratic project for the whole re­gion. At that time, the ad­min­is­tra­tion of then U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush seemed to have no choice but to rely on its mil­i­tary su­pe­ri­or­ity to re­ha­bil­i­tate Bagh­dad in its new lib­eral role as a strate­gic part­ner against ter­ror­ist threats. To­day, 15 years af­ter the Iraqi oc­cu­pa­tion, it is clear that the U.S. strat­egy of ex­port­ing democ­racy has not pro­duced ef­fec­tive re­sults.

In­deed, any state-build­ing ef­fort is based on some im­por­tant guide­lines aimed at cre­at­ing ad­e­quate con­di­tions for se­cu­rity, jus­tice and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, so­cio-eco­nomic welfare and strength­en­ing po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion. From the Iraqi per­spec­tive and from the sub­se­quent re­gional tur­moil, two fun­da­men­tal con­tra­dic­tions are ev­i­dent. On one side, in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism tar­gets in­no­cent vic­tims and gen­er­ates death and so­cial de­struc­tion while on the other, there is a for­eign ac­tor who com­mits crimes while fight­ing against a rogue state. Cer­tainly, im­pos­ing regime change and the re­lated civil un­rest fol­low­ing the par­ti­tion of a state with its spill-over ef­fects on the whole re­gion and be­yond have de­te­ri­o­rated the U.S. po­si­tion as guar­an­tor of re­gional sta­bil­ity, giv­ing rise to what is now com­monly known as "Iraq syn­drome."

A pe­cu­liar fac­tor of the de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion process pro­moted by the United States was the ex­clu­sion of the old elite from the new po­lit­i­cal di­men­sion by en­trust­ing the con­trol of ter­ri­to­ries to small coali­tion forces. This re­con­struc­tion strat­egy made the borders par­tic­u­larly por­ous, al­low­ing for in­fil­tra­tion by for­eign ter­ror­ists. In other words, it seems that those who planned the war had not prop­erly con­sid­ered the pos­si­ble out­breaks of re­sis­tance com­ing not only from the Repub­li­can Guard and the old Baathist sup­port­ers, but also from ir­reg­u­lar forces such as the Fe­day­een Sad­dam and other ter­ror­ist mili­tias like al-Qaida. Since suc­cess­ful re­con­struc­tion is based on the abil­ity to re­move a despotic gov­ern­ment and the ef­fec­tive­ness of po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions cre­ated to seal a for­eign in­ter­ven­tion, the mil­i­tary force should be grad­u­ally re­placed by the rule of law of a sovereign gov­ern­ment. In this frame­work, an ef­fi­cient in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity is con­sid- ered achieved when cit­i­zens rec­og­nize the state as a le­git­i­mate and es­sen­tial gov­ern­ing body in ev­ery­day life. How­ever, in the mak­ing of a new Iraq, the U.S. seems to have not ad­e­quately en­vis­aged and con­tem­plated this op­er­a­tional process. Nev­er­the­less, it was the hasty de­struc­tion of ev­ery­thing re­lated to the old regime that pro­duced the cur­rent mo­saic of so­cial frac­tures and cleav­ages. De­spite U.S. ex­pec­ta­tions, ex­port­ing democ­racy manu mil­i­tari is not an easy task as a for­eign power, and even with the best of in­ten­tions, can­not push a con­sti­tu­tional tran­si­tion be­yond the lim­its im­posed by the eco­nomic and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment of a par­tic­u­lar so­ci­ety. In the Iraqi case, the na­tion builders could have done bet­ter both in terms of strate­gic de­sign and op­er­a­tional the­ater. It is not yet clear how in Oc­to­ber 2002, the U.S. De­fense Depart­ment, hav­ing ob­tained the guide for the re­con­struc­tion pro­gram, had fo­cused su­per­fi­cially on state build­ing by let­ting the U.S. face a war while not prop­erly pre­pared to work ac­cord­ing to the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural pa­ram­e­ters of Iraq. Al­though the U.S. had achieved im­por­tant milestones mil­i­tary, it has never been able to gain moral au­thor­ity or ca­pac­ity to sup­port the state-build­ing process. Cur­rently, us­ing a con­cept from Max We­ber, the U.S. did not prove to be eth­i­cally re­spon­si­ble, be­cause by tak­ing refuge in moral prin­ci­ples ex­ces­sively dis­tant from the re­al­ity of things and by act­ing pri­mar­ily in the name of its own in­ter­ests, it did not ad­e­quately fore­see the costs and con­se­quences of the ini­tia­tive for the whole re­gion. The mis­takes made must be a warn­ing to U.S. pol­icy in the Mid­dle East to re­port its good in­ten­tions to the re­al­is­tic struc­ture of the re­gion.

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