Our Leaders Hate Democracy

It’s true, especially in countries we depend on for oil. Democracy gets in the way. Democracy cedes control to the people. “The people” of Iraq don’t want what American policymakers want. What good is that? We’re the United States of America. We’re supposed to get what we want.

Earlier this year, Iraq held an election for prime minister. “The people” split their votes: half for Nouri al-Maliki, half for Ayad Allawi. In such a contested election, the Parliament decides.

In Parliament, a large bloc of voters, known as the “Sadrists,” were undecided. In American politics, we’d call them “swing voters.” Their votes would swing the election either to al-Maliki or Allawi.

American policymakers don’t like the Sadrists. Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers repeatedly called for an end to the American occupation of Iraq, and their hardline brand of Shiite Islam aligns them with the Ayatollah of Iran.  

The Sadrists supported al-Maliki, who is now forming his cabinet. Sadrists will almost certainly fill a few positions in that cabinet. It’s the least al-Maliki can do to repay them for making him prime minister.

That’s a problem for Washington. The State Department doesn’t want a fire-breathing, anti-American crusader in charge of Iraq’s Ministry of Defense.

But what can we do? They followed the rules — rules that we helped write. The price we pay for democracy is accepting the fact that we won’t always like the people who get elected (or, in this case, appointed by the person who got elected). Right?

Don’t be fooled. Our leaders don’t really believe in democracy.

The United States is threatening to cut off aid to Iraq’s Education, Health, and Transport ministries if al-Maliki appoints Sadrists to any of those posts.

I have three questions. First, why should Iraqis risk their lives to create a constitutional democracy, vote in every election, and follow the rules if the U.S. will override their decisions? Second, why are our leaders increasing the risk of a terror attack? After all, every study shows that terrorists are motivated primarily by perceived political injustices, such as our perennial support of governments that restrict the rights of citizens in the Middle East.

And third, since we’re targeting the Education and Health ministries: Haven’t the children and the sick of Iraq suffered enough? What did they do to us to deserve this punishment?