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America is doing it right in Iraq

By Alistair Campbell - posted Monday, 28 February 2005

“The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” George W. Bush, Inauguration Speech 2005.

The US policy of pre-emptive action against countries that pose a threat to national security has raised a few eyebrows. But this is not the only facet of the "Bush Doctrine". Over the last four years George W. Bush not only lay out the foundations for his assault on Iraq but also addressed the second aspect of his doctrine: installing democracy in war ravaged countries. He has tried to do this in both Iraq and Afghanistan but also other countries such as Ukraine and Pakistan

President Bush warned America and his allies at the start of the war that it would be tiresome, complicated and expensive. This has certainly proved to be the case.


It seems every day more and more insurgents are willing to throw away their lives with suicide bombings, killing over 1,300 American soldiers and countless innocent civilians. Recently General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwan (Iyad Allawi's intelligence chief) said, “I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people”. He also noted that the problem was not going away. Operating out of Syria, Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan and former aide Mohammed Yunis al-Ahmed are providing funding and tapping connections to old army divisions, particularly in Mosul, Samarra, Baquba, Kirkuk and Tikrit.

The question that arises from this is: Was the notion of a pre-emptive strike on Afghanistan and Iraq in order to disarm them, arrest their leaders and install democracy in their nation better than taking no action and letting the sleeping wolf lie? With latest estimates showing the civilian death toll could be as high as 100,000 the question must be asked, is it really worth it?

The "left" think not. They have pointed out on many occasions that these "insurgents" are living examples of why we should leave sovereign nations alone and get on with securing our own borders. But they also have to accept that we knew all along that this war, like any other war that has been fought, would be costly and chaotic.

For countless years after World War II many Germans expressed fury at the Allies. Stig Dagerman, a Swedish journalist, described people in Berlin in 1946 as “bitter, disillusioned and hopeless” and argued that people believed they were living under worse conditions than those before the occupation that removed Hitler from power. This was the case right up to the early 1950's when finally true democracy took hold and became fully established. It was then the Germans realised the full potential of their nation after the regime change.

A similar scenario happened in the former Soviet Union when more than 10 years after the fall of communism there was no electricity or drinking water or properly functioning sewerage system. People again expressed their disappointment both violently and with peaceful protests.

Similar situations are happening right before our eyes in Baghdad and surrounding cities in Iraq. But over time these issues can be solved with the installation of a democratic government. Just recently, the US has initiated a project to rehabilitate 13 existing electricity stations and construct 24 new substations in Baghdad. These will improve the distribution and reliability of electricity for more than two million Baghdad residents. Iraqi hospitals are now being constantly maintained and are available to all Iraqis, not just the elite. Drugs are being supplied by the US, and doctors - oppressed under Suddam - are now back working in the hospital system.


The faster the US and its allies can raise living standards for the people of Iraq the faster the people of Iraq will realise the true virtues of freedom after experiencing over 30 years of authoritarian rule. It will only be after they have accomplished this that the US troops will have the support of the Iraqi people.

Democracy can work in countries like Iraq. This has been shown with shining examples in the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan. Much of Iraq is already enjoying free democracy and speech, something ruthlessly prohibited under the reign of Suddam Hussein. The allied forces have about 300 troops patrolling the entire Kurdish area. Local councils are operating around many parts of Iraq. People are experiencing a freedom they probably have not seen in their entire life.

Iraqis are also helping run United Nations operations in Iraq. Many Iraqi engineers, technical experts, and managers are running the UN Development Programs despite heightened fears for their safety. The 25-member National Government council includes 3 women and representatives of all major religions in Iraq, something that would be forbidden under the reign of Suddam Hussein.

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About the Author

In November 2008, Alistair Campbell travelled around Iraq talking with people from many different tribal, ethnic and religious groups. He was there to assess the viability of a project he is initiating which involves starting a national schools debating league in Iraq, with view of taking the first ever Iraqi team to World Schools Debating Championships to be held in Qatar in 2010. His involvement with Iraq started when he was an organiser and a facilitator of the Youth Initiative for Progress in Iraq conference held in Jordan in July 2008; the conference was the first and only youth policy conference held specifically for Iraqi youth to discuss development issues and the conflict.

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