Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bush's Democracy Graft Not Working

Part of me doubts very much that Bush believes in his Middle East democracy project. Abu Ghraib, the almost complete destruction of Fallujah, the failure to even start working on Democracy for much of the first six months after the fall of Baghdad (apparently privatization came first), the extensive reconstruction corruption, the failure to engage in real multilateral talks and so on just make gibberish of Bush's promises (there were officers and civillians who did their best to instill democracy but they never received wholehearted support from the White House).

However, whatever integrity there may have been behind the democracy project in Iraq was a bit like trying to graft the head of an elephant onto the body of a lion and then assuming it was going to work. Democracy may be possible in the Middle East but not by military surgery and not when a government talks of staying for years, calls everyone who objects to the occupation a terrorist, and oh, by the way, look at all that oil!

Bush's Iraq policy is a failure and to stay any longer than necessary to soothe Bush's ego or to pass it on to the next president or to help Republicans avoid responsibililty or win elections is a bit much. Besides more death and mayhem, there is a price tag to a president's insistence on living in a bubble at taxpayer's expense. Think Progress has a story on the estimate from the Congressional Budget Office:
A phased withdrawal would save $416 billion on the deficit over the next four years and $1.28 trillion over the next decade. On the other hand, a strategy of “stay the course” will increase the deficit by $313 billion over the next four years and $1.3 trillion over the next decade.

I'm not sure if the above also includes the high price of oil which ought to be factored into the cost of Bush's war, though one could argue that some of the rise in prices is due to Bush's threats to invade Iran, but then, it's still the president's foreign policy that is costing us. If Bush and his neocon friends (who can never make up their minds what the war is for and seem to itch for more) were truly serious about democracy, there is no doubt in my mind that a steady diplomatic effort starting back in late 2001, after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, would have been far more effective for a fraction of the cost. We might not have been be seeing full-fledged democracies yet but things would have been moving in a far better direction than they're moving now.

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