Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Iraqi Democracy, the Real WMD

    The beauty of the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech is that it allows us,
every day of the week and especially on Sunday morning, to listen to blithering idiots
who are self-ordained experts.  This statement could be true about almost any subject,
as the competing networks seek out anyone they can to speak on the latest of topics. 
All that is needed is a degree, a past government employment, or to have somehow
snuck on a talk show in the past, to be considered worthy of espousing their views as
if they were from divine providence.  Such is the case for those who fill our airwaves
with their knowledge of how Iraq has disintegrated and what the United States should

    With this in mind, since we have written this monthly column starting before
the new millennium, we also will hold ourselves out as experts on this topic.  After
all, we certainly cannot be any more wrong than those who supposedly were in the

    So why do we find ourselves, we being the United States, in the situation that
we are in, in Iraq?  The corollary to that question of course is, who is to blame?  Both
of these questions have in them an inherent assumption or presumption.  That is, that
the United States has the ability to fix or break things; or to change world events to
an outcome that we desire.  Certainly, we, along with a whole host of other nations
and organizations, have the ability to break things; such as what we did when we
invaded Iraq in 2003.  But as the saying goes, “all the kings horses and all the kings
men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again”.  Once something is broken it is
much more difficult to put it together again.  Once we broke Iraq in 2003, it could
never be put together again.

    Some will say and have said that we were close to doing it by 2011, when our
last troops left Iraq.  Those, of course, put the blame on President Obama, failing to
acknowledge that it was President Bush in 2008 who signed the agreement with the
Iraq Government to have our troops out by 2011.  These people argue that had we left
some troops in Iraq, that Iraq would be a Democratic state where everyone lived in
peace and in harmony and that we were just so close.

    Other than the fact that we had no legal authority to remain in Iraq past 2011
and that our soldiers would have been subjected to prosecution in Iraqi courts for any
misdeed, transgression or perceived violation of Iraqi law, this point of view is based
upon a lack of understanding of history, religion, and the belief that the world began
in 2011.  First of all, Iraq is a carved-together country.  In the 1920’s when the
Ottoman Empire was carved up by the League of Nations, artificial borders were
created that put together in one country, three groups that had never gotten along.  In
the northeast were the Kurds, in the west were the Sunnis and the in south were the
Shiites.  The Kurds were of a different ethnic background, while the Sunnis and
Shiites have hated each other since around 600 AD when there was a split in the
Muslim world as to who the successor of Mohammad was.  

    Shiites and Sunnis have never gotten along, as is evidenced by the
confrontations of the two sects wherever they come in contact with each other.  For
example, the civil wars in Lebanon and the recent civil war in Syria have had their
roots in battles between the Sunni and Shiite population.

    Some of these geo-political pundits have also professed that had we kept troops
in Iraq past 2011 that democracy would have taken a foothold and that these 3
factions, who never got along, would embrace democracy and forget about 1400 years
of distrust or ethnic rivalries.  This position, of course, has its own presumptions and
assumptions.  The major one being that all people on earth choose democracy over
other forms of government.  This simply is not the case.  This is even more true in a
society where religion is not only combined with government, but forms the basis of
it and legitimizes it.  In these situations, which are prevalent throughout the Muslim
world, a democratic vote does not determine who the religious leader is.  Rather,
religious leaders are elevated through their ranks in accord with the religion.  To go
against the religious leader is blasphemy and would cause one to be a heretic. 
Therefore, keeping in good graces with the religious leaders, in essence, means a
disavowing of democracy.
    Tribal alliances and respect for the elders also are more important to many than
is democracy.  Even in Russia, where democracy had a chance after the fall of the
Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin has an approval rating in the high 80 percentile,
although he has become nothing less than a dictator.  That society appreciates a
strong man, a bold leader, more than it appreciates democracy.

    Democracy also only can take root and work in a civilization where the
leadership is beholding to the people and therefore, has to do good by them in order
to remain in power.  In Iraq, the Shiites are more than 50 percent of the population. 
Therefore, any leader of the country, as is shown by current leader al-Maliki, would
be from the Shiite sect and only beholding to the Shiite sect.  Because he was not
beholding to the Kurds or the Sunnis, he has no problem in disenfranchising them. 
This resulted in the obvious, the Kurds had formed a self-autonomous region of their
own and the upheaval in Iraq right now of Sunni fighting Shiite should have easily
been expected.  

    Possibly if we had not gone into Iraq in 2003 on trumped up charges of
weapons of mass destruction, the turmoil that is going on in Iraq right now would not
be occurring.  Of course, Saddam Hussein or one of his sons would be in power right
now.  Of course, we would be finding his behavior intolerable.  Of course, political
pundits on Sunday mornings would be championing, why didn’t we go into Iraq in
2003 when the American people were in an upheaval because of 9-11.  

    Or, in 2011 we could have kept troops in Iraq, only to have them shot at on a
daily basis and blown up.  Sunday morning talk shows would have been filled with
those same experts who are speaking now.  They would be talking about how Obama
couldn’t get us out of Iraq, how he is to blame for all these American deaths, and that
Iraq would not be in this upheaval if we had just left in 2011 and allowed that
democracy to blossom and bloom.  As the saying goes, “your damned if you do and
damned if you don’t”.

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