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Some Initial Thoughts on the Chilcot Report | Middle East Research and Information Project

8.8.16

Some Initial Thoughts on the Chilcot Report | Middle East Research and Information Project: The invasion of Iraq has had a huge impact on the debate about democracy in the Middle East—and almost entirely a detrimental one. Analysts in both the Middle East and the West routinely suggest that the war was an ill-conceived attempt to impose democracy on the region overnight with the barrel of a gun. The assumption is that democracy promotion was a key driver of the decision to go to war. Many go on to argue that the West should be less focused on promoting democracy.

This argument is confused. Democracy in the Middle East has never been a primary interest of Western states. Sometimes they have actively opposed it. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, neoconservatives and liberal interventionists made the case that this orientation should change. They argued that authoritarianism fostered extremism, including in Saudi Arabia (where most of the hijackers came from), and that democracy in the region was in the long-term interest of the United States. Against this backdrop, democratizing Iraq was one of several goals adopted in the run-up to the war. But it was seen as at best a bonus or a byproduct of a military intervention that was motivated by geopolitical interests—along with a host of other mooted benefits, such as unlocking the secret to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Had democratization been the fundamental driver of US and British policy, it is not clear why they would have picked Iraq as the single country to invade, or why they simultaneously reinforced military alliances with other authoritarian states in the region.


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Dispatch: Aboriginal Press Media Group  |   Permalink  |   [8.8.16]  |   0 comments

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