Monday, November 01, 2004


Cronycracy Will Not Work

Seeking Solutions (5)
Where do we want to go? (iii)

A lot has been said about bringing democracy to Iraq and to the Middle East. It has been said that democracy is the best safeguard for security and stability in this volatile corner of the world which holds lands sacred to many people around the world… and oil, sacred to modern civilization.

This is a noble cause of course. It would do wonders to this part of the world… if it is the right kind of democracy!

Democracy as I understand it (and I hope that you agree) is government by the people! (In Iraq, we have the additional requirement that government by the majority must not lead to "democratic" oppression of our multitude of minorities – but more on that later).

Democracy, for so many people in the States, sometimes seems to mean government by friends of the US government; cronycracy! This may sound far fetched, but look at what the US administration has been doing in trying to achieve "democracy" in Iraq.

This mentality is a remnant from the cold war that prevails in the US establishment. Many obnoxious systems of government loyal or friendly to the US are regarded as tolerable and sometimes even good. President George W. Bush said this clearly in one of his speeches a couple of years ago. At the time, I hoped that he meant to rectify the situation. Every political maneuver in Iraq since the invasion confirms that the old view prevails. Another lie? More probably institutional doctrine.

Every effort made by the US government to try and stabilize Iraq through political means has failed, and will continue to fail, because of this view of democracy. Well, it is immoral of course. It is also wrong in that it will lead to disasters. Why? People will simply resist it. Germany, Japan and Korea? There are so many differences… some of them have been referred to earlier. This is a long story.

To tell you the truth, I can live with cronycracy for a while if the system is designed to move to a democracy sometime. In Iraq the prospect of that happening is slim for a number of reasons:

Some of the people used in the US-engineered cronycracy are corrupt. There are several regional powers that are funding numerous political groups. Some of these groups do not have the welfare of Iraq as a priority. What's worse, these various groups are entrusted with the design of the system of elections. They will simply entrench. You can see that in every piece of legislation implemented in Iraq so far.

Therefore the system designed will not lead ultimately to democracy.


Circular has nothing constructive to say.

I’ve been Googling "Iraq Constitutional Assembly" to try to find out what these January elections are meant to achieve. Unfortunately all I got was a speech by Dick Cheney, which was not really what I was after - my computer is rather basic and I haven’t got a Sewerage Protector. (Sorry. Surge.) But he did seem to confirm my understanding that the Assembly is intended just to discuss a Constitution, any implementation of actual "democracy" is still a year away at least, till then you’re stuck with cronycracy. Have I got that right?
If so, it sounds a very suitable forum in which to address the questions you have been raising, and you presumably will be making urgent submissions, with a lot of help from your Internet Advisors.
But doesn’t it just put us back in the "let’s pretend its not burning" situation, not just in Abu’s Blog but in respect of the Assembly itself?
My fear is that in a year’s time Iraq will be a very different place from the one we know and love today - either in a state of ultimate anarchy, with the "liberators" having gone home to recuperate, or so "shell shocked" into submission that it will be in effect a PTSD state. Never mind devising a solution for a theoretical Iraq, don’t you need one for an actual Iraq transformed by major trauma?
(Will the Kurds be saying "Look at them crazy A-rabs down south! We don’t want no part of that!")
Just trying to cheer you up while you wait for Iraq’s real election results tomorrow.

I think the cronyism is Iraq is less because the Americans are used to using it in foreign countries, and more because 30 years of Saddam taught local politicians that that was the normal and expected mode of operation.

Abu, you place too much blame for inept governence on the US, and too little on the legacy of Baath party rule. Only Iraqis can fix Iraq. Iraqis are going to have to do some self-examination and confront some ingrained attitudes that are stumbling blocks to democracy. You can't just curse the US and absolve yourselves of blame.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Hello Abu Khaleel,
Waiting for election results. There is great intensity here and determination to see that justice is done. Foolish Bush may be history(God willing).
But the suffering of the Iraqis is not over.

"Many obnoxious systems of government loyal or friendly to the US are regarded as tolerable and sometimes even good."

Our standards are not even that high. The picture that sticks in my mind is from the 1980's when Donald Rumsfeld was shaking the hand of Saddam Hussien -- a case of a government that was repulsive yet doing something the US supported and thus had our support.

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