Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Iraqi Choice

Regardless of one's opinion of the legal legitimacy of the US's invasion of Iraq, or the strategic value of the war, there can be no moral advocacy of the insurgency, whose tactics and ultimate goals deny even the most basic notions of civilized behavior and human rights. Nonetheless, a shocking number of leftists in the US, and particularly in Europe find themselves secretly hoping that the insurgency will defeat the US coalition and that Sunday's elections will fail. In today's left-leaning Telegraph, Janet Daley takes such attitudes to task:

The terrorist organisations, the pedlars of theocratic death cults, and the ousted (or would-be) totalitarians who foment insurgency in Iraq and now swear themselves to be the enemies not just of America, or the coalition forces, but of democracy itself, know that this is a fight to the death. Once what Mr Bush would probably call the great tide of liberty has swept over their poisonous strongholds, there will be no going back, at least not to square one. Yes, indeed: freedom and democracy are dangerous things, as so many of the Left-wing commentators are saying with a cynicism that beggars belief. Do we really want to hold elections, they ask, in a country where the outcome might give power to the majority Shia and thereby aggravate the insanely dangerous Sunni terrorists? What?

What? Can you imagine what these good liberals would have said if it had been America that was insisting on forestalling elections because the results could be dangerous or unpredictable? There goes America again, they would shriek, sustaining a puppet government that is under its control, rather than allowing a country to choose its own leaders.

What exactly is being argued here? That we should withhold democratic elections out of a fear that the majority of the population will finally get political power? That is what democracy is generally assumed to be for: to give power to the majority, while protecting the rights of minorities to as great an extent as possible.

Which brings us to the claim that these elections will be somehow delegitimised if the Sunni minority is terrorised into abstaining. Minorities need protecting if full-blooded democracy is to flourish. But to establish the rule of law that would permit such protection, there must be a democratic process.

It may be a fledgling, imperfect, not-quite-complete democratic process that is on offer in Iraq. It may require that ordinary life come to a virtual standstill, that borders be closed and mobile phone networks taken down, that what we would understand as basic rights to travel and to communicate be temporarily suspended. But that is a testimony to how much is at stake here.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist who claims to be leading the insurgency in Iraq has openly declared himself and the insurgency at war not simply with the US occupation, but with democracy itself, in his most recent audiotape.
"We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," the speaker says.

Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for many bombings and beheadings in Iraq.

The US has put a $25m reward on his head.

Correspondents say the voice on the latests recording sounded similar to that on the other messages attributed to the fugitive, whose group is linked to al-Qaeda.

It attacked democracy as a springboard for "un-Islamic" practices, claiming that its emphasis on majority rule violated the principle that all laws must come from a divine source.

"Candidates in elections are seeking to become demi-gods, while those who vote for them are infidenls," it said.
al-Zarqawi's denunciation of democracy is consistent with the teaching of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Last month, other Iraqi jihadists issued a similar policy statement.

"Those who participate in this dirty farce [the January 30 elections] will not be sheltered from the blows of the mujahedeen," said a statement posted on an Islamist website signed by the Al Qaeda linked Ansar Al-Sunna, the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Army of the Mujahedeen.


"Democracy is a word of Greek origin meaning the sovereignty of the people... this concept is considered apostasy, contrary to the doctrine of one God and Sharia (Islamic law)," the statement from the three groups said.

"Democracy is a farce created by our enemies to confer what they call legitimacy on the new government which is subservient to the crusaders and executes their orders."

"To try to ensure these elections succeed would be the greatest gift to America, the enemy of Islam and the tyrant of our time," it added.

The group said democracy could lead to the adoption of laws considered un-Islamic, such as homosexual marriage. "By virtue of democracy, members of parliament become gods themselves."

Ansar al-Sunna is a small secretive network of Islamic radicals which claimed the deadly attack on a US military base in northern Iraq last week and has carried out some of the most gruesome attacks of the insurgency,
Bringing democracy to Iraq may turn out to have been a Wilsonian crusade not worth its hefty cost of American lives and money, but anyone wishing for an insurgent victory does so at the price of condemning the Iraq people to oppression under the likes of al-Zarqawi. That is evil.


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