October 23, 2004
It was widely reported in the press, that a US government-funded survey of Iraqi voters has revealed that if elections for president were held in that country today, the likely winner would be a Muslim Cleric. So much for the President's fanciful notion that democracy can be exported and sold abroad with Arabic subtitles like a Hollywood movie. If the President or his advisors had paid any attention to history, they might have noticed that although we were successful in installing democracy in Japan and Germany following World War II, it was a feat accomplished at considerable cost. It took several decades of foreign aid, starting with the Marshall Plan in 1948, and over a decade of US occupation of those countries. We also had the benefit of working with populations that were conquered, subdued, and badly frightened by our military might, which had devastated their cities. There was nothing surgical about WW-II. Just ask the senior residents of Dresden, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki.
Who in their right mind could have believed that we could install a viable democracy in a Muslim fundamentalist society in a year or so? Democracy is not imposed from the top down; it must be carefully implanted from the bottom up, and nurtured for a span of many years before it takes firm root.
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