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Old 03-08-2010, 02:03 PM   #1
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Did Bush Get it Right????



Will Iraq's democracy vindicate Bush? - CNN.com

Will Iraq's democracy vindicate Bush?
By David Frum, CNN Contributor

(CNN) -- Israel may have to retire its title as the only democracy in the Middle East. With Sunday's free and fair national election, Iraq joins the honor roll as one of the very few Islamic democracies.

Other Middle Eastern countries hold elections too, of course. But those elections fall into two broad categories. The first category is the blatantly rigged: Iran, most spectacularly, but also Algeria, Egypt, and Yemen, among others. In the second category, elections are more or less honest -- but fail to exert much control over the actions of the government: Lebanon, Morocco, and Jordan.

In Iraq, despite violence, votes are honestly counted. Once counted, votes decide who rules. For all the country's well-known problems, that record is a remarkable achievement.

The brave Iraqi democrat Nibras Kazimi posted this firsthand account on his important blog, Talisman Gate:

"I voted. It felt great, but the greatest thing about it was how normal it felt; elections have become a ho-hum, commonplace occurrence. That's quite a feat for a country with Iraq's past and current challenges. The voting procedure itself was very well organized and speedy. The election site had seven polling stations, with about 400 registered voters allowed to vote there. Everyone's name was posted outside, along with information about what polling station they were supposed to use. Once inside, IDs were checked against name lists, and one had to sign next [to] one's name to indicate that this name has voted. All in all, there are reasonable mechanisms in place to contain incidents of fraud. ...

"The Western media is hyperventilating about mortars and katyushas. ... This was a logistical failure for the jihadists; hardly any successful suicide bombers or sniper attacks near the polling stations. Lobbing mortars indiscriminately around Baghdad is BS intimidation. It certainly didn't deter voters.

"The fact that the security authorities allowed vehicular traffic around 11 AM was both surprising and bold. It showed confidence in their security precautions, and the fact that there were no car bombs shows that they were right."

Iraq's elected government has consolidated power over the whole country, including the formerly Iranian-run southern city of Basra. It has presided over a remarkable decline in violence.

The Brookings Institute's Iraq index estimates that there were 34,500 Iraqi civilian casualties in 2006. In 2009, 2,800 Iraqi civilians died violently.

Attacks on coalition forces have dwindled from almost 2,000 per week at the end of 2006 to a little over 100 per week.

Iraq is not yet a stable place -- but a future of stability seems at last at hand. Maybe the surest sign of success is that those who once opposed the surge are now scrambling to grab credit for it. Iraq "could be one of the great achievements of this administration," boasted Vice President Joe Biden to CNN's Larry King last month. Next we'll hear how we owe the Marshall Plan and the Panama Canal to the Obama administration. Well, that's not how those who were there remember it.

A stable Western-oriented Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors would be a great prize. If that future does take hold, we'll learn the answer to another great question.

Speaking on the eve of war in 2003, President George W. Bush told the guests at the American Enterprise Institute's annual dinner that he discerned "hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East. Arab intellectuals have called on Arab governments to address the 'freedom gap' so their peoples can fully share in the progress of our times.

"Leaders in the region speak of a new Arab charter that champions internal reform, greater politics participation, economic openness, and free trade. And from Morocco to Bahrain and beyond, nations are taking genuine steps toward politics reform. A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region."

Will he be vindicated?

In the January issue of the Journal of Democracy, Larry Diamond offers grounds for hope that the answer may be yes. Diamond, an expert on democracy-building who served with the Coalition Provisional Authority, itemizes the indicators of growing yearning for self-rule in the Middle East. He notes surveys in which 80 percent of Arabs across the region agree that democracy is the best form of government and would be good for their own country.

Of all the obstacles to Arab democracy -- religion, culture, geopolitics -- the most important is geological: oil.

Oil states tend to be undemocratic states, because control of the state so directly translates into control of the nation's wealth. When the price of oil rises, the value of power rises with it. It's not a coincidence that oil states from Russia to Venezuela to Iran have turned to more repressive and hard-line policies since the price of oil began to rise in 2001. By contrast, the 1986 collapse in the price of oil is widely cited as a decisive factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Iraq's future will depend on its success overcoming "the curse of oil." America's next contribution to Middle Eastern democracy may be an energy policy that finally lifts this curse.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:35 PM   #2
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Only time will tell on how the story gets told, I think this writer seems to not be taking everything into consideration.

Iraq is not stable, we wouldn't still be there if it was, how fair are the elections right now, and when will the country become stable? Just to name a few.

The story could be told one of many different ways, if stability is maintained and we get to leave under Obama's watch the story can easily go like this: Bush fucked up and Obama cleaned up his mess.

Like I said, only time will tell.

Historians may look at Bush a little more favorably if Iraq becomes stable soon, but no historian worth their salt will say "Bush got it right".
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:50 PM   #3
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he absolutely got it right. Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and we got even.
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:58 PM   #4
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Turnout in Iraq's parliamentary election was 62 percent, higher than in last year's provincial ballot, despite attempts by Sunni Islamist insurgents to disrupt the vote with attacks that killed 39, officials said on Monday.



Preliminary results were not expected for another day or two in a poll that Iraqis sickened by violence hope will help bring better governance and stability after years of sectarian slaughter, and as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc likely did well in the Shi'ite south while a secular, Sunni-Shi'ite alliance led by former premier Iyad Allawi appeared strong in Sunni areas in the north and west, informal tallies suggested.

The voter participation in excess of 60 percent was better than many had feared and indicated Iraqis were not deterred by blasts that thudded across the capital on election day. Iraqi officials blamed the explosions on mortar, rockets and roadside bombs, but U.S. military officials said many were caused by "noise bombs" consisting of explosives in plastic bottles.
I would just like to see things keep improving in Iraq,


that should be something all reasonable people can agree with.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:22 PM   #5
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he absolutely got it right. Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and we got even.
mission accomplished.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:23 PM   #6
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62%? isn't that higher than the us turnout?






incidentally, i love how the goalposts and reasons for invading iraq keep getting moved.
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by gherman View Post
By David Frum, CNN Contributor

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.



just pointing this out.

and i generally like Frum, as right wingers go.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:58 AM   #8
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BVS and Deep said it all. Inconclusive so far, and if they move toward a thriving democracy, all reasonable people can agree its a good thing.

There are still questions to be answered.

Most importantly:

Frum's premise that the elections are both honest AND the results reflect who ultimately rules the country.

Still difficult to measure when we are over there, when the level of violence is high and the regional differences remain.The Kurdish areas still will not accept Iraqi troops, right in this article it talks about a shiite-sunni split in voting between Al Maliki and Allawi. Every country is polarized, few successful democracies are polarized along religious or ethnic lines.

Lebanon has obviously had its issues, mostly associated with undue influence from Syria, but as for democracies, it is crazy to say Iraq will be anywhere close to as advanced as Lebanon is now in the next 5 or 10 years. That is not possible. Beirut is(was to more of an extent years ago) a modern city with modern institutions, Lebanon has a strong national identity, etc. It was not called the "Paris of the East" for nothing.

One thing that is still glossed over with respect to Iraq is the level of Iranian influence in that government. Now Ahmadinijead obviously started out as an antagonist, a bad guy, an anti American, a bigoted fool, an ideologue, etc but he has only gotten 10000 times worse as time has gone on! I am not so worried about the nuclear program, they are getting sanctioned and isolated for it, and they are still years away by any objective measurement. However, the curtailment of democracy in what is largely a moderate, young society ready to join the global economy is a major negative for the region. It becomes even worse when you look at the level of influence they have in Iraq.

So a couple things become obvious:

1.)Whatever the result in Iraq, good or bad, lets all hope good, creating some kind of flourishing democracy was never the justification for spending $1 trillion, getting 4000plus troops killed, letting AQ regroup in Afghanistan, and everything else that came with the Iraq war.

No family of a soldier that has been killed in this war would have supported sending their kids into Iraq if the reason given was "so that Iraq may or may not have something that looks like the very loose standard for democracy in the Middle East 10 or 15 years down the road."

That is still very much in question obviously, while what is certain and irreversible is that their sons and daughters are never coming home, never getting married, never having kids. It was not worth anyone's life, never mind an 18 year old's with his whole life in front of him.

If Iraq turns into a strong democracy, it will be do to the Iraqi people setting aside their differences and working together. If they do, the whole world myself included will be happy for them.

Lets not pretend, however, that a US invasion was the only thing that could have led to this. Saddam in 2003 was presiding over a greatly weakened Iraq- militarily, economically, etc and many intelligence officials in the US and elsewhere have stated publicly that they were on their way out. No one knows whether or not Saddam's sons would have been feared the way he was, etc.

2.)Given the state of affairs in Iran now, it is disingenuous to increase their influence anywhere and call this some kind of grand success.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:22 AM   #9
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Historians may look at Bush a little more favorably if Iraq becomes stable soon, but no historian worth their salt will say "Bush got it right".
Especially because no responsible historian will pursue such a simplistic argument as "the ends justify the means".
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:35 AM   #10
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Regardless of Iraq, practically everything else that Bush did is spiraling out of control even worse from year-to-year which is why he continues to look worse and worse in hindsight. It is funny though that a potentially thriving Iraq in a few decades could be in praise of Bush and that it will be looked at his greatest triumph.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:06 PM   #11
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I do think Iraq will be a thriving democracy! And violence will still prevail for many years to come. We'll leave Iraq, when the Brits leave northern ireland.

Did I just type that?
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Old 03-09-2010, 11:00 PM   #12
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I do think Iraq will be a thriving democracy! And violence will still prevail for many years to come. We'll leave Iraq, when the Brits leave northern ireland.

Did I just type that?


it's how empires go bankrupt.
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:34 PM   #13
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Especially because no responsible historian will pursue such a simplistic argument as "the ends justify the means".

The question of whether Iraq will succeed is a little more nuanced and open to debate/interpretation.

This, however, AX is as far as anyone needs to go with respect to it helping out Bush.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:14 PM   #14
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the #1 problem we face today when making up our minds on political acts is that we expect the results to come immediately due to 24 hour news and the internet.

when that does not happen, we claim failure.



wether or not our actions in iraq were succesful not will take decades to fully understand. if, in 50 years, iraq is a thriving democracy that ultimately leads to region wide democratic reform, then many of the things that the bush administration said will be proven true...





... but there will still be no weapons of mass destruction, which ultimately were the reasons for going to war in the first place.

so bush could look much better down the road... but the only way he'd look justified is if somehow the original justifications for going to war were proven to be true... like all of a sudden they find out that there's a ton of biological warfare buried under 50 feet of sand and shit.



ultimately the failures in new orleans will always taint the bush legacy, even if iraq turns out all rosey.
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Old 03-10-2010, 05:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Headache in a Suitcase View Post
the #1 problem we face today when making up our minds on political acts is that we expect the results to come immediately due to 24 hour news and the internet.

when that does not happen, we claim failure.



wether or not our actions in iraq were succesful not will take decades to fully understand. if, in 50 years, iraq is a thriving democracy that ultimately leads to region wide democratic reform, then many of the things that the bush administration said will be proven true...





... but there will still be no weapons of mass destruction, which ultimately were the reasons for going to war in the first place.

so bush could look much better down the road... but the only way he'd look justified is if somehow the original justifications for going to war were proven to be true... like all of a sudden they find out that there's a ton of biological warfare buried under 50 feet of sand and shit.



ultimately the failures in new orleans will always taint the bush legacy, even if iraq turns out all rosey.
I think most of this is true, but I'd like to add two things.

One, Bush and Co brought upon themselves a lot of the "quick results" backlash because they pretty much sold it that way, that we'd be in and out.

Two, I think it will make other nations pause(except Palin who's ready to do it again) in the future when someone wants to wage another war of choice/ nation building venture.
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