24 July 2005

On the Iraqi elections and being "just a little bit pregnant"

When a delicate child forms in the womb, a woman isn't just a little pregnant. By its very nature, pregnancy is an all-or-nothing sort of thing. Likewise, commitment to democracy is either complete or non-existent. You can't support democracy only if people elect the candidates you prefer. But the Bush administration would like to have it both ways in Iraq. According to an article in The New Yorker by Seymour Hersh, Bush approved a covert plan to channel funds to Iraqi candidates in the run-up to the January elections. A State Department official confirmed that there was an effort to provide direct funding to certain candidates. We've now learned that the issue went to high levels and was approved by high officials in the State Department and by others in the Bush Administration, in the late spring of 2004.

For people familiar with U.S. history and the CIA's activities, this condition of "being just a little bit pregnant" with democratic zeal should come as no surprise. The CIA has been fixing elections all over the globe. In Iraq, a country infected with suspicion and cynicism, this hardly seems like an auspicious beginning for the birth of democracy. But putting Iraq aside for the moment, Americans need to look deeply into their red-white-and-blue hearts and decide if their commitments are to democracy or to the maintenance of an international empire. Or are we all just a little bit pregnant with our ideals?

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