A blog about thoughts, comments, and proposals inspired by the basic principles of human dignity and the sovereignty of the people, for examples, a process to start the best possible and sustainable democratic government in Iraq, and a robust peace process for Israel-Palestine

Sunday, October 02, 2005

After 2 years of silence on this blog, I have decided to start again commenting on the news from Iraq, and possibly the Middle East. The increasingly downward spiral in Iraq, which is unnecessary and which was foreseeable given the lack of participation of the constitutional process, is extremely worrying, and very frankly speaking, frustrating to the extreme for those who had thought before how to promote an intelligent process in Iraq based on human dignity and democratic participation. In my view, people are dying completely unnecessarily simply because politicians did not have the wisdom and courage to start, nourish, massage, a more participatory process.

The result is the constant need to micro-manage the outcome, since the process itself is not smart enough to be self-correcting. How to make it self-correcting was the subject of the last post, where I explained in detail how it should have been designed, and on what principles.

Some examples since the beginning of the year about the micro-management strategy (of the US principally). But before, it is useful to pay attention to American commentators while keeping in mind their general message: whether it has to do with the controversy about empowering Shia or not, it is nearly always about "What can we (i.e. the US) should do now to "correct" the immediate situation (i.e. the mess we created)?" It is nearly never about "How should the process should have been DESIGNED in the first place so that the Iraquis could have avoided being in this mess?" and the related question "How can we get back on track of a democratic process which is designed to inherently give the most optimal results?" Even if people disagree on what exactly optimal is, I think everyone can agree on a less ambitious goal, using the double negative "non-dysfunctional results", which would mean simply muddling through without sliding into civil war, and without suicide bombings every day, and most of all without one of the major groups actually calling to vote against the draft constitution.

A nice "collateral benefit" from a better more open more participatory democratic process might have been less corruption, of the sort that was revealed recently:
- over a billion stolen from the Iraqi defense budget (What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn? (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article313538.ece and full text here http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0919-01.htm)
- Iraq's own Commission on Public Integrity speaks of an "epidemic of curruption: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4627923.stm)
- a former Senior Adviser to the CPA speaks of Iraq being a "free-fraud zone": http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7306162/site/newsweek/

This is independent of the unaccounted for $8.8 Billion which the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction of the US government found: http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/01/30/iraq.audit/

Back to democratic design failures and subsequent micro-management:
- since the January 2005 elections did not reflect the actual demographics of the country (Sunnis under-represented), the US put pressure on the other groups to arbitrarily and artificially add Sunni representatives on the constitutional committee. Of course, the US was responsible in the first place for failing the test of democratic imagination, inflaming the situation so much and behaving with such heavy arrogance that it was extremely easy to convince

- another consequence of the failed design (who designed the process?? who was responsible??) is the inordinate amount of time it took after January to create a new government. This created an obvious legitimacy vaccuum which fed violent attacks. The proof that even Iraqis respect the fundamental morality of democratic legitimacy is that there was a lull after the election (in spite of all its failings), but that as Iraqis got fed up with the length and bickering of the governemental process, attacks ramped up.

- another failure of the process was the lack of follow-up on strong protests from groups that felt the elections were fraudulent, foremost among them the Iraqi Turkmen, but also other groups. This was never properly answered and dealt with (to my knowledge), creating one more completely unnecessary flashpoint. Here, the group mostly attacked were the Kurds who behaved arrogantly in the belief that America would stand by the no matter what (what short memories the Kurds indeed have, when the US betrayed them without batting an eye less than 15 years ago and abandoned them to the wrath of Saddam Hussein, not to mention that the US were one of the suppliers of the chemical weapons that killed so many thousands of Kurds, at the time that Saddam was America's friend and ally against Iran)

- the micro-management went so far that even President Bush personally intervened (how truly amazing when you think of it, how can people like me defend democracy afterwards when the most vocal promoters of its are such bunglers that they need to put such heavy pressure and interfere directly in what is supposed to be a process reflecting self-government and the sovereignty of another people? the answer of course is that I defend an "intelligent design" ;-) of democracy engineering rather than the one displayed in Iraq since 2003)