From a speech made by Dubya in March 2005,
Throughout the speech, Bush said the spread of democracy is crucial to defeating terrorists and safeguarding the United States from another attack. “It should be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace because governments that respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors,” he said. “It should be clear the best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance kindled in free societies.” (emphasis mine)
In the fall of 2006, WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted a face-to-face poll of the Iranian public and found strong support for democracy. Respondents were asked, “How important is it for you to live in a country that is governed by representatives elected by the people?” and told to answer on a 0-10 scale, where 10 signified the greatest importance and 0 the least. A large majority (68%) of Iranians chose the highest possible score of 10; on average the Iranian response was a 9.1
The survey also allowed Iranians to evaluate the level of democracy in their country, using the same scale. Asked to rate how much their own country was “governed by representatives elected by the people,” few Iranians (only 9%) gave their country a perfect 10, but a clear majority (61%) gave their country a score of 7 or higher.
As WPO notes Iranians have there own ideas about what democracy is and whether or not their ideas of what constitutes democracy correlate with a Jeffersonian concepts, they do see themselves as living in a relatively democratic country. There would seem to an outsider that the average Iranian is suffering from a certain level disconnect from what actually constitutes a democracy, but this shouldn’t be too difficult to comprehend because American Conservatives see themselves as pro democracy even as they support the most authoritarian and lawless administrations in American history.
Other polls are consistent with WPO’s findings that a majority of Iranians both support democracy and feel that their government is at least somewhat democratic. In June 2005, a survey by the Iranian Student Polling Agency found that 65 percent of respondents said it was “absolutely important” to live in a democratically governed country and 90 percent believed that democracy was better than any other form of government. Smaller numbers—but still a majority—said that they believed Iran was “fairly democratic” (59%).
Abu Aardvark has an interesting post about how some Iraqis view Bush’s continued occupation, in particular the Islamic Army of Iraq. First let’s acknowledge that these guys are extreme nationalists and as one would expect they use a lot of hyperbole, Islamic Army of Iraq takes issue with certain American claims
First, the letter from the Amir. Much of the letter advances a series of arguments that Iran is the real problem for Iraqis and Americans alike. It’s full of sectarian complaints, as you’d expect, and its aggressive assertions of Iranian mischief in Iraq might find a welcome reception in certain quarters. While the occupation of Iraq has proven a disastrous, expensive failure for the United States, it argues, Bush has at least achieved great strategic gains for Iran. Iranian influence is on the march throughout the Gulf while Baghdad and the southern provinces have become the property of Iranian intelligence. He writes that he knows that Americans don’t care about Iraq’s suffering or about millions of Iraqi refugees, only about hegemony and wealth and Israel’s security. But even so, why has America given Iran hegemony over Iraq at such a bargain price?
Iran, a country that sees itself as democratic and has offered to help the U.S. fight al-Qaeda has gained power and influence in the region because of Bush. The majority of Iraqis are Shia as is the government the Iraqi government that Bush props up and those same Shia feel more allegiance to Iran then they do to America or more accurately Bush. Bush can have surges from now till the Martians land, but he’ll never make head way in Iraq without a political solution that addresses the issue of his contradictory view of what Iraq should be. He can’t simultaneously marginalize the Sunni minority one day, arm them the next then try and get them on America’s side when America has designed a government that caters to the Shia. The average person might well have a difficult time understanding how these small fractures in religious and tribal beliefs and traditions can mean so much that people will kill each other. Not a perfect analogy but think of the violence between Protestants and Catholics that lasted for hundreds of years in Europe and fueled the terrorism in Northern Ireland in recent history ( a problem that ended with a political solution not a military one).
Listen to what the leaders of the insurgency groups actually say, not to what American spokesmen project upon them: the major insurgency factions remain committed to fighting until the Americans withdraw and the current political system is revised.
Abu isn’t approving of insurgent behavior only acknowledging it and their determination. Even discounting the propagandistic tone of the announcements made by these insurgent groups Bush’s escalation or “surge” is of dubious and only short term benefit if any. Since Bush and of course his supporters will continue to ignore the realities and Congressional Democrats don’t have a large enough majority to make Bush change course it is very likely this quagmire will continue well into 2008.
Paul Krugman and Matthew Yglesias both take a look at the morass of muck that is the current philosophy of conservatism as it applies to health-care for children, but it also applies to Bush and Conservatives contradictory behavior in Iraq, Can’t Do Conservatism
One way of thinking about what the country’s experienced since the fall of 2001 is just large-scale consequences of perverse incentives. We have a president whose ideological goals on the domestic front are, on some level, advanced every time he screws up, with his own failures, his own corruption, providing evidence for the correctness of his ideology. Meanwhile, on the security front, his own inability to tackle the al-Qaeda problem — and, indeed, the fact that his policies are making the problem worse — serve to heighten a climate of fear that his advisers regard as political(ly) useful.
The more Bush screws up Iraq the more supposed justification for the surge. The surge goes sideways at best and Bush both declares we’ve turned another corner and need another Friedman Unit. At the end of which we’ll need another surge and those that oppose this deadly farcical cycle are defeatists. What we have is the Conservative Cycle of Defeat. They’re like gambling addicts that have tied their destructive behavior to patriotism. Madison Avenue couldn’t have done a better job of not only selling America a defective product, but having repeat sells.