Watching all the candidates for the 2016 election dancing on a tightrope trying to answer the question about why they voted to go into Iraq in 2003 (or what lesson they should have learned from this "mistake") is painful and unnecessary. There is a simple answer to this dilemma that nobody seems to want to say. Yet this answer is being played out right under our noses.
It was not a mistake to remove a dangerous, murderous, unpredictable dictator such as Saddam Hussein! We could have saved ourselves the trouble if we had removed him in the first Gulf War. The mistake was trying to replace him with a democracy. We could have gone to Baghdad and handed over the government to a decent general. There were quite a few whom we had trained who could have kept the country together.
The same thing could have been done in the second invasion too. We would not have had to disband the army. The country would not have fallen apart. Iraq would still have been a single country, not an ethnic stew as it is now.
We are captive of our own misbegotten policy of "making the world safe for democracy," one that we handed to the United Nations, that has made a terrible mess of the world. It was very well intentioned, but the road to hell has always been paved by good intentions.
Democracy is not the result of a free and fair election. It is a process dependent upon a number of elements: a large and literate middle class; private property; independent press; independent judiciary; gender equality; separation of religion from governance; a regular and orderly election process; universal education system; and one other thing not considered: geographic luck----relative safety from predatory neighbors or the ability to defend oneself from such.
This list eliminates much of the world from the requirements needed to even have a democracy unless under the protective umbrella of the United States, and we are no longer in the business of policing the world.
The candidates should say frankly that knowing what we thought we knew at the time, it was right to go into Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein, even though the intelligence was wrong. But to Part 2 of the question, what did we learn, they should answer that we should never again try to plant a democracy where it does not belong! That is the lesson.
The proof of this is right under our noses in Egypt, the only country that survived the "Arab Spring" with the right conclusion. Egypt dumped a dictator who stayed too long; held an election that taught them a lesson: that the educated city people were outvoted by the illiterate Islamist majority in the villages, who voted in the Muslim Brotherhood. A second rigged election gave them what they should have had in the first place: a modernizing general, General Sisi, who is doing what is necessary to keep the country from falling apart.
Democracy lovers are wringing their hands. Of course they are. But they still have not learned their lesson. Egypt is a country that is drastically overpopulated, the majority of its people ignorant, living in villages whose attitudes and customs have not changed in several thousand years. They are nominally Muslim, Islam barely overlying ancient Egyptian custom and mythology tied to the Nile and its annual risings upon which the agricultural cycle has depended. Democracy is not even on their radar!
The problem today is that there are too many Egyptians. The River cannot sustain all of them properly. It is asked to provide power, irrigation, fertility, and flow into the Mediterranean; however, it is not doing any of these things well. Egypt was once the breadbasket of the Roman world. Egypt is now on the verge of famine, and this breadbasket no longer feeds itself. Egypt needs neither an election nor Islam. It needs a firm hand, modernization, and contraception.
Don?t replace dictators with elections! They need good generals and guided modernization.
Have we learned this yet?
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.