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Imperial democratization: Rhetoric and reality.

UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, the United States proclaimed its commitment to making the world "democratic" and "free." Robert Jervis sees this emphasis on the domestic structures of states, along with a willingness to use such means as preventive war, an absence of inhibitions about unilateral action, and the necessity "of American primacy, hegemony, or empire" for the sake of peace and stability--with the hegemonic power not even bound by rules that apply to others--as the "four elements" of the Bush doctrine. This portrays a vision of a democratic, peaceful world and the warlike ways through which a hegemonic power would impose it through its own diktat--what I sum up here as imperial democratization. Just as war would make for peace, the authoritarian world order would impose "democracy" within each country. The Bush Doctrine is focused on the Middle East. The centerpiece of this policy was the invasion and occupation of Iraq in a military campaign officially dubbed "Operation Iraqi Freedom." The proclaimed goal of this campaign was to turn Iraq into a "democracy" as a step toward the democratization of the Arab world and Iran. Ironically, this is the region in which the United States has long depended more than anywhere else (particularly since it began supporting at least superficial democratization in other less-developed countries during recent decades) on a network of client authoritarian regimes. This is part of an imperial structure that Johan Galtung (2) characterizes as being based on alliances between the center of the Center (that is, the ruling class of a developed country) and the center of the Periphery (the ruling class in underdeveloped countries) to suppress popular opposition (again in Galtung's words, from the periphery of the Periphery) to American (or other Center countries') policies. And indeed amid repeated pious proclamations of repentance for its past sins, Washington now relies more than ever on local autocratic allies as the foundation of the Middle Eastern part of its empire. Is the Bush administration merely lying when it talks about the necessity of democratization when such would undermine the empire?


In his classic treatise, Politics Among Nations, Hans J. Morgenthau provides important insight for understanding the role of idealist rhetoric about such matters as spreading democracy. Like other proponents of the "realist" school, Morgenthau emphasizes that all politics is a struggle for power. As he goes on to tell us, power is the "immediate aim" in international politics--the means to whatever aim motivates a state, whether it be power for its own sake or some other value. (3) While not denying the possibility that the "ultimate goals" are sometimes of an idealistic nature ("legal and ethical principles and biological necessities"), he emphasizes the "ideological element in international politics" from a "realist" perspective. Drawing on insight from Shakespeare and Tolstoy, he shows that this involves hiding a struggle for domination--even "deceiving oneself"--"behind the mask of a political ideology" (i.e., "pretexts and false fronts") that make one's goals "psychologically and morally acceptable" and thus provide "weapons in the struggle for power," for not only would frankness about one's lust for power evoke opposition abroad, but it would create a "bad conscience" at home, thus making it difficult to rally support for foreign policies. (4)

Since we cannot get inside policy makers' minds, the possibility that sometimes they are simply lying about their intentions cannot be dismissed. But I believe that the Bush administration's proclaimed commitment to democratizing the Middle East provides a prime example of such rationalizing and that American leaders and their spokespeople often actually believe what they say, even though the dynamics of the situation dictate that their actions will belie their rhetoric. This may in part represent the well-known phenomenon of "groupthink," in which those engaged in policymaking reinforce one another's opinions and, more to the point here, their "unquestioned belief in [their] inherent morality," which has been identified as one of the main symptoms of the "groupthink" malady. (5) But Jervis (6) suggests that what originally just provided a rationalization may sometimes affect policy makers' actual behavior and--while citing "mid-level officials" who dismiss such as "window dressing"--describes the Bush administration as having "a faith-based foreign policy" that leaves beyond question the necessity and efficaciousness of democratizing Iraq and the Middle East generally even though it might in fact "not act on it" at the price of "sacrific[ing] stability."

The loud proclamations of support for democratization may also exemplify a tendency to engage in impression management (again, likely a matter of rationalization rather than simply lying) as a substitute for actions that seem too costly to carry out. Thus in reference to the Allied response to information revealing the extent of the ongoing Holocaust against the European Jews in 1943, a recent account spoke of "ways [Allied leaders used] to create the impression of concern but" without a real "intention of taking any meaningful action." (7)

In a seminal theoretical study, Dialogues in Arab Politics, Michael N. Barnett provides concepts of particular relevance here. In keeping with his "constructivist" approach to international politics, which purports to offer an alternative to realism by emphasizing the way state interests are shaped in a "normative context" but which he also calls "no less related to issues of power, domination, and social control than is military politics," Barnett (8) systematically analyzes the politics of pan-Arabism since 1920, with Arab leaders described as being engaged in "symbolic politics" or "presentational politics" (also: "framing events") to protect their image of commitment to pan-Arab causes, including unity and Palestine, so important to protect their regimes from the wrath of their own publics as well as in the broader inter-Arab arena, and to undermine their rivals' images, while actually giving priority to their own self-interest. Although the two situations may differ in many ways, the use of "democracy" or "freedom"--much like commitment to a pan-national identity--as a touchstone of virtue at home and abroad shows similarities to this, including, as I show below, the way it involves a danger of "symbolic entrapment," in which governments sometimes find themselves having no choice but to follow up rhetoric with action.

This may also exemplify what Harry Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton University, recently has labeled "bullshit" (a more delicate alternate: simply "bull") which he believes to have become "One of the most salient features of our culture"--something that is "more insidious" than lying because, whereas the liar is consciously telling what he/she considers not to be the truth, in the latter case the person involved has lost the distinction between truth and falsehood and no longer cares. (9) He/she is concerned with "convey[ing] a certain impression of himself" rather than about what is the truth. Unlike both the truthful person and the liar, the "bullshitter," according to Frankfurt, "just picks them ["the things he says"] out, or makes them up, to suit his [her] purpose." (10)

Rulers enlisting the mass media in presenting such ideological rationalizations of imperial ventures is what Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky call "manufacturing consent." Information and analysis that undermine such attempts is available in the American press (and some of it is cited here). Although, in the words of Herman and Chomsky, (11) "usually on the back pages of the newspapers." The extent to which official policy and versions of the facts sometimes have been given undue credibility, with major parts of the mass media at worst acting as cheerleaders, is well known, particularly in relation to the invasion of Iraq and the hyping of the alleged commitment to democracy. Whether it involves self-deception, as I have suggested, or represents a purely conscious attempt to deceive others, it fits the old pattern of dressing up realpolitik in idealistic garb recognized and even advocated by classic political thinkers. Thus the fourth-century B.C., Chanakya Kautilya, counselor to King Chandragupta Maurya and one of the earliest writers elucidating "realism" in foreign policy, advised rulers "to wear a mask, say, of religious righteousness, or to create other traps, illusions, or appearances of things." (12)

American policy in the Middle East today provides a striking example of the "ideological" phenomenon Morgenthau points to. "Freedom" and "democracy" have taken a prominent place among Washington's announced goals as it behaves in an increasingly imperial manner with regard to Iraq and the Middle East generally. Many observers see this as rank hypocrisy (13) at a time when the ideological weapon is wielded so threateningly against some regimes and so gently against authoritarian clients and allies, when indeed the longtime reliance on autocratic clients--e.g., Egypt's Mubarak and all the Arab monarchies--seems to have been strengthened, not reversed. Even in the case of certain regimes that hardly deserve to be called United States clients, Washington has sometimes evinced increasing willingness to cooperate since 2001, the Sudan providing a case in point. (14) Bob Herbert has labeled as "dismaying" the way the Bush administration uses "the lofty language of freedom, democracy and the rule of law" at the same time it secretly pursues diametrically opposite policies. (15) But while such inconsistency between words and actions is clear, it is not necessarily true that policy makers are consciously lying about their motives. The kind of rationalization and self-deception Morgenthau finds characteristic of "the ideological factor in international politics" at times may provide a better explanation.


Washington's recent proclaimed reversal of its longtime support for tyranny in the region has been deemed one of the most fundamental "tectonic shifts" of the post-2001 era. (16) The Middle East Partnership Initiative involved $120 million to encourage democratization, out of a total foreign aid budget of $18 billion (17)--what Bradley Glasser (18) rightly calls "comparatively trivial sums." But Noam Chomsky (19) calls such "democracy promotion" the "leading theme of declared US policy in the Middle East." Indeed, as a prominent scholar in the field of democratization has pointed out, the United States has long "offered tepid encouragement for political reform in the Arab world and funded some democracy aid programs there. Past efforts were timid, erratic, and not reinforced at senior diplomatic level. (20) However, the modest "democracy aid" in the Middle East has "financed cautious projects, carefully designed to avoid angering or destabilizing incumbent regimes." (21) Most "democracy aid" in the past was in the form of strengthening "civil society" (encouraging the growth of associations), whose relationship--so long assumed--to democratization now has been brought into question. (22) Although the existence of a strong network of nongovernmental associations long has been known to be a healthy situation for democracy, encouraging such groups to emerge hardly automatically leads to the creation of a democratic system.

Such assistance and accompanying pressures for change often results in some degree of democratization or liberalization. However, the outcome is not a true transition to democracy but rather the sort of "semi-democracies" (as in, say, Egypt and Jordan) which superficially look slightly more democratic but really facilitate continuing control--"the end of the process" rather than a stage in the transition to democracy--by authoritarian regimes that "know how to play the democracy game and still retain control." (23) In effect, "democracy promotion" may be a way of strengthening authoritarianism. This is much like what another scholar calls the "half-assed democracies"--basically authoritarian but with some democratic appearance--that Washington allegedly aspires to establish in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan as a way of legitimating military intervention domestically and internationally, (24) also called "managed democracy." (25) Even such a worthy effort as pushing for women's rights, which Washington recently hyped so much, may represent little more than diverting attention from concern with making governments truly responsible to their electorates to "train[ing] women to compete for seats in powerless parliaments." (26)

Many observers take the supposed commitment to "democracy promotion" at face value, variously praising or warning against such an idealistic outlook that goes beyond the usual realpolitik. (27) But others see this as extreme hypocrisy--mere rhetoric designed to disguise a brutal new phase of aggressive imperial domination. Referring to actions relating to Russia, China, and Venezuela as well as the Middle East and Central Asia, Joseph T. Siegle and Morton H. Halperin (28) pointed out in February 2005, at a time when the rhetoric of "democracy" was reaching a new crescendo of crusading zeal, that "Bush simply doesn't have a very strong record of promoting democracy abroad" and that rather than being "a democratic idealist," he had merely "co-opted the language of democracy while pursuing business-as-usual policies" while discrediting the whole notion of democracy promotion. A few scholars (29) have clearly analyzed the reality of Washington's support for authoritarianism. Only rarely has anyone, as in the remarkable case of Ray Takeyh and Nikolas K. Gvosdev, (30) openly warned from a blatantly pro-imperialist, pro-Zionist, pro-Arab autocrat perspective that the United States must choose between "its Wilsonian values" and "its strategic interests" and that America owes its position in the Middle East to "the indulgence of the autocrats."

Simultaneous with its highly touted policy of no longer tolerating autocracy, Washington has accelerated its arms sales to repressive regimes. A report of the World Policy Institute in 2005 documented a major increase in such sales since 2000, showing that 20 of the top 25 recipient countries in 2003 in the less developed world--such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan--being undemocratic (as defined by the State Department) or having poor human rights records. This included countries that previously were barred from such sales. (31) Stephen Zunes (32) points to "dramatically increased" aid to oppressive Middle Eastern governments under Bush. Marina Ottaway (33) stresses the need for the United States to "establish its credibility" in light of its longtime support for friendly autocracies in the region and the failure of Arab commentators to believe that a change has occurred. Thomas Carothers (34) characterizes the Bush administration as having a "split personality," announcing its support for democracy while at the same time reinforcing its ties with "friendly tyrants" in the struggle with Islamic revolutionaries. In assessing the reasons for the weakness of democracy in the Arab world, Graham E. Fuller (35) concludes that "Long-Term [American] Support for 'Friendly Tyrants'" is a major factor why the "war on terrorism" has strengthened, with the "call for democratization invariably tak[ing] a back seat." Another observer points to the use of "words like 'freedom' and 'democracy' in a purely talismanic manner, without attaching any actual meaning to them," asserting that "[i]n fact, to Bush, democracy and freedom mean simply 'anything the United States does' or, indeed, 'anything I do'." (36) As Ottaway and Carothers assess the situation, Washington is "paralyzed by ... the clash between their stated desire" for democratization "and their underlying interest in preserving the old relationship with existing "non-democratic regimes there" and fears that "democratic openings" would bring "radical Islamist groups" to power. (37) Responding to an attempt by Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula J. Dobriansky to refute his thesis that the Bush administration had in fact strengthened its ties with authoritarian regimes after September 2001, Carothers identified "a pattern of rhetorical overkill by administration officials" and "self-congratulatory statements about the United States' unparalleled altruism" that undermines the credibility of its announced "pro-democracy policy." (38) Even a writer whose overall thrust is to celebrate American efforts to spread freedom has to recognize the remarkable "gap between his [Bush's] words and his administration's performance. For he runs an administration with the least care for consistency between what it says and does of any administration in modern times." (39)

The shrill, absolutist demand for democracy and freedom does not mesh with Washington's continuing record of support for authoritarian clients in the Middle East. Spokespeople for American policy repeatedly admit this today, using the euphemism of "promoting stability" (although in fact this also has involved destabilizing non-client leaders, including democratic ones) to describe what they claim belongs only to the past and sometimes apologizing for it. The most hawkish proponents of American hegemony are in the forefront today of those who readily admit that Washington had previously made a "democratic exception" in the case of the Arab/Muslim world. (40) And this led to a "widely held perception" that for the United States such talk of democracy serves only "as a whip to punish its enemies." (41) Even Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice admitted that the United has a 60-year record of supporting "stability at the expense of democracy in ... the Middle East" while insisting that it now is taking a different course. (42) One observer concludes that the Bush administration "has hit new heights of chutzpah as the putative sponsor of popular electoral democracy in the Middle East," particularly in the way it hails current developments that leave autocratic regimes intact "as the arrival of radical new changes." (43)


There is a perception--sometimes consciously cultivated but, as in the case of rigid ideological thinking generally, illustrating the tendency to rationalize rather than necessarily knowingly to distort reality--of the absence of democracy constituting a problem for Washington in the Middle East. Democracies, it is claimed, would be friendly to the United States and to Israel. (44) Indeed, it is a problem in a different sense--that is, in that the creation and perpetuation of undemocratic regimes (centers of Peripheries, again to use Galtung's terms) brings resentment of their foreign protector (that is, the center of the Center). More fundamentally, it is the imperial presence in Islamic lands-maintenance of clients and, more recently, establishing a military presence, as well as underwriting the subjection of the Palestinians to ethnic cleansing and apartheid--that builds opposition. But without the client regimes, the United States would lose control. And it would be difficult for democratic regimes in the Arab world to be client regimes. If somehow a regime took on the characteristics of a democracy and retained its client relationship with Washington in the face of popular opposition, hostility to Washington still would not vanish. One is tempted to paraphrase the Clinton presidential campaign slogan of 1992 explaining "why they hate us" as "It's the imperialism, stupid!"

Considering the centrality of Washington's concern with supporting Israel, the relationship of the democracy/autocracy question to the Arab-Israeli conflict provides a key case in point. There exists an insidious implication that Arab animosity to Israel is a result of the absence of Arab democracy. The statement of United States Under-Secretary of State Marc Grossman in 2003 that he expected a democratic Iraq immediately to recognize Israel (45) exemplifies the kind of mindset that represents such a fundamental misconceptions about the Palestine question.

Those who understand that it is the people, far more than autocratic regimes, that have opposed Zionism and Israel, see the fallacy in this kind of thinking. Lisa Anderson (46) recognizes that concerns for both "access to oil and the security of Israel have trumped the desire for human rights and democracy" and that "[d]emocratization would force wide-ranging, raucous, and possibly violent debates about ... the Arab-Israeli conflict." Further, Anderson has opined (47) that "Israeli leaders ... recognize that Israel is probably the last country that could promote democracy in" Arab countries precisely because of the popular anti-Israeli opinion that would turn the issue into "a football in domestic politics," thus making it easier to deal with authoritarian leaders. With Israel and other issues in mind, David Hirst (48) has reminded us that "America will not like the democratic Arabia that missionary America will have helped spawn." Takeyh and Gvosdev (49) warn about the greater hostility that Israel would face if the Arab world adopted democracy, urging Washington to favor "liberal autocracy" instead. Even policymakers in Washington sometimes seem to understand this reality, for apparently "the Bush administration...resisted European calls for Palestinian elections" for a while "partly out of fear that in the present, venomous environment candidates would compete to be the most militant." (50)

The fallacy of blaming opposition to Israel on lack of democracy meshes well with the recently prominent "democratic peace" theory that in some academic circles has come to be seen as virtually a recently discovered scientific law. This uses statistics to show--relying on a simplistic classification of states as either "democracies" and "non-democracies" based on shifting criteria and without regard to any deeper insight about why war occurred or did not occur between different pairs of countries over time--that there are almost no cases in the past of democracies fighting wars with other democracies. Critical scholars have pointed to basic flaws in such analysis. And, even it were valid, should we predict as inevitable that Arab democracies would make peace on Israel's terms, as seems to be implied, or that the latter, assuming that its classification as a democracy is correct, would be fated to acquiesce to democratic Arab demands? And yet the idea of "democratic peace" studies has emerged as a popularized myth spouted off in the speeches of American presidents. Such exaggerated versions of this theory as that of Sharansky and Dermer (52) (lavishly praised by President Bush), argue that peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be impossible until the latter establish a democracy. This argument serves as a rationale for maintaining the occupation and not making peace, just as the broader theory serves to put the blame on weak victims of democratic imperialist states and even to justify war against selected non-democracies. (53) Warning that "[t]he home truth of supporters of occupation ... that democracies do not go to war against each other, needs refining," Bar'el (54) reminds his readers that "[t]he Arab failure to accept Israel has little to do with the absence of [Arab] democracy."

I have previously proposed, somewhat ironically, the term "autocratic peace" (55) as a more insightful explanation of the relationship between Israel and the Arab states. Because of the need to legitimize themselves with the masses in their own countries and to compete with other regimes for popular support as a club to be used against leaders in other countries, authoritarian Arab regimes have always had to engage in "impression management" that shows their support for the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel, which sometimes leads them into "symbolic entrapment," (56) as was the case when Egypt was pulled into the crisis that led Israel to initiate war in 1967. The reality, however, is that they have generally wanted to avoid actual military conflict with Israel, a fact that has been explained in terms of the latter not being a threat to them (as long as they do not back up their rhetorical support for Palestinian rights with actions) despite their need to pay obeisance to the ideological conflict. (57)

In some cases, such Arab regimes have been secret allies of the Israelis even when they seemed to be participating in wars against Israel. The extreme case of this kind of secret alliance from the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict was in Transjordan/Jordan. King Abdullah appeared to be fighting the Israelis in 1948 (and did clash with them over Jerusalem), but his troops in fact were there to implement a secret agreement with Israel to partition the proposed Arab Palestinian state. (58) This represents the kind of secret collaboration that would be unimaginable for democratically elected Arab leaders. When collaboration with Israel was less blatant or at least less exposed, authoritarian regimes such as that of Saudi Arabia desperately want to suppress anti-Israel sentiment for fear that this would sweep them away. Even such a nationalist regime as that of Syria under the Asads has tried to avoid conflict with Israel. Syria's intervention in Lebanon in 1976 was designed to prevent ardently anti-Israeli groups from winning the civil war and thus threatening to evoke Israeli involvement. One of the most overlooked facts is that Syria had a parliamentary regime (in today's terms, a "democracy") when it went to war against Israel in 1948 and that this became the first case in the Middle East of CIA involvement in the replacement of such a government by a military dictatorship, partly in order to get an authoritarian regime that was willing to sign an armistice to make peace with Israel. (59) Coining the phrase "Condi's conundrum," Avi Shlaim points out that if Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is serious about her high-minded rhetoric demanding democracy for the Arabs, "she must accept the outcome of free elections," which generally "would produce Islamist, anti-US governments." (60)

Notwithstanding the simplistic, widely propagated "democracy equals peace" idea, there exists a considerable understanding among mainstream Israelis of the popular nature of Arab opposition. An article in Haaretz in April 2005 warns that "Israel will have a hard time adjusting to a democratic Arab world, in which public opinion rather than centralized rulers determine policy." While going along with the idea that democracy was beginning to flourish in the Arab world, the author goes on to quote a recent lecture by Professor Yehezkel Dror:
 We're all for democracy, but let us imagine democracy in
 Egypt or Jordan. Will it strengthen their peace with Israel? Of
 course not. The ruling elites understand the need for peace,
 but the public on the street, the masses in the markets, surely
 do not. (61)

Public opinion surveys clearly show that the Arab public does not support United States policies. Recent polls in several Arab countries conducted by Zogby International confirm--as many of us long would have guessed--that the Palestine issue is personally "the single most important issue" for about 60 percent of the people and approximately 85 percent ranked it as one of the "three most important issues." (62) Robert Kaplan (63) seems to understand the need for continuing to support authoritarian clients when he concludes that "our overstretched military, increasingly ... will have to work unobtrusively through native surrogates." Right-wing journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave recognizes that such lauded past developments as the post-1973 disengagement agreements and democratic rule in Jordan and Egypt would have precluded these countries' peace treaties with Israel. (64) This undoubtedly in large part explains why, both before and after 2001, "the United States and other members of the international community have not been anxious to put real pressure for democratic change on the Mubarak regime." (65)

The reality is that to the extent an Arab government was authentically democratic its compliance with United States' policies would be unsustainable. Pointing to "one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention" in Iraq, that is, the resulting election of a strongly religious, Shi'ite-dominated parliament with "very close ties to the Islamic republic next door," Robin Wright concluded that this was "the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy." (66) Those who forget that more Arab democracy would mean more "responsive[ness] to ... a public opinion that unequivocally opposes collaboration with Israel and submission to US policies and the conditions placed by international financial institutions that have so far only increased the gap between the regional haves and have-nots" have rightly been described as being "in complete denial." (67) In pointing out that if, hypothetically, Iraq could become "a 'beacon' of democracy and freedom," Demetrios James Caraley reminds us that this might not serve the interests of the United States if, say, it resulted in the replacement of the monarchy in Jordan "by a majority-rule, fundamentalist Islamic republic." (68)

The extent to which Washington has been able to depend on its authoritarian clients in recent years has been striking. The way the war against Iraq in 2003 was launched from the territory of absolute monarchies in the Gulf region should suffice to illustrate this. Admittedly, some American client leaders, such as Mubarak, warned about the dangers of such an invasion and refrained from participating in it, but they took no action to hinder it.

By contrast, democracy has thwarted American objectives. In reference to Turkey's refusal to allow its territory to serve as a springboard for the invasion of Iraq, Phillips (69) notes that the Justice and Development Party was "a new variable," whereas the Turkish General Staff had previously been "irrefutably in power." Notably, it was the Turkish parliament that thwarted Washington's plans, even in the face of governmental approval and important financial and political incentives. This happened in a country where the Kemalist ideology long kept it from identifying with the Islamic world and whose populace could be counted on to back their government's alliance with the United States during the Cold War (thus, unlike in Arab countries, making an authoritarian "center of the Periphery" unnecessary). Even in Europe, it was democracy that stood in the way of support for the war by countries such as France and Germany, and British participation in "the Coalition" occurred despite, not because of, the democratic process.

We should keep in mind that "democracy," as the word has come to be understood during the past century, is no longer understood as government representing "the will of the people." Instead, it is understood as merely a set of procedures that allow different segments of the political elite to compete periodically in elections. (70) Such procedures often allow elected governments a lot of leeway in ignoring the "will of the people" (a recent example being the way, under the continuing leadership of Tony Blair, the Labour Party survived another election after taking the United Kingdom into an unpopular war in Iraq in 2003). Despite the overwhelming popular opposition (90 percent of the population) in Turkey to allowing Turkish territory to be used as a springboard for the impending attack on Iraq in 2003, the government nearly succeeded in getting the parliament to approve this, using such a tactic--so telling of the Schumpeterian concept of democracy that is divorced from the "will of the people"--as keeping the vote secret (71) so as to allow deputies to avoid the kind of sanction that voters might apply in the next election. In the Iraqi elections in January 2005, a non-secular Shi'ite-dominated coalition calling for an end to the occupation (sometimes described as giving the Americans "the purple finger") won a slight majority of the seats and yet, in the face of a largely Sunni Arab insurgency, refrained from calling for immediate withdrawal. Admittedly, an imperial power sometimes is able to manipulate divisions, but insofar as elections are conducted democratically (assuming that the elected government really determines the state's policies), it is more difficult for any state to remain autonomous of society.

The determination to pursue an unpopular pro-American policy may lead a client regime to reverse such limited democratization as may previously have occurred. Jordan--whose retreat from democratization we will deal with further below--provides a case in point. It is notable that what some considered significant progress toward democratization in Jordan

in 1989 made way for a "retreat ... in earnest in 1994, when Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel." The outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifadah and the need to suppress demonstrations of Jordanian support for it, followed by "Washington-friendly justifications for increased political repression after 11 September 2001" (72) provided further impetus for the reversal. Ryan (73) notes that from the beginning of political liberalization in 1989, foreign policy questions were kept "off limits to serious opposition" and that this became more blatant after the peace treaty and eventually was extended to net-liberal economic policies.

Some prominent American leaders have openly admitted that democracy in the Arab world would threaten American interests. Thus Zbigniew Brezinski opined that democratization in Egypt would bring the Muslim Brothers to power, while a similar process in Saudi Arabia might lead to Crown Prince Abdullah's defeat by Osama Bin Laden. (74) A United States State Department report before the invasion--challenged by the neoconservatives in the Defense Department--had concluded not only that the establishment of democracy in Iraq would be difficult but that if it emerged, it "could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements." (75) Fareed Zakaria (76) provides us with a comic but telling account of how American diplomats have spoken piously to one Arab client ruler after another about the need for more freedom but in each case change the subject when reminded of the "Islamic fundamentalists" who would come to power in the event of free elections.


Washington has continued to rely on authoritarian rulers in the Arab world. Despite the rhetoric, U.S. support for a ruler such as Egypt's Mubarak has been "reinforced" since 2001. (77) There is no Western desire for "genuinely competitive elections with equal access to the media" in Egypt. (78) Avi Shlaim's judgment that "America ... insists on democracy only for its Arab opponents, not for its friends" and that, as of June 2005, the longtime "American hypocrisy ... has gone beyond chutzpah" (79) is on the mark. Agreeing that Washington wants democracy in the region, but only "[u]p to a point [boldface in original]," Ottaway and Carothers warn that this "newfound enthusiasm" for change competes with "other priorities." (80) And while it once was mainly the Arab world that was exempt from Washington's commitment to authoritarianism, this now has been extended to regions such as Central Asia and to Pakistan. In an Orwellian world, dictators serve as bastions of "freedom," as best exemplified by the name given to the American military base in Karimov's Uzbekistan, which remarkably goes by the name "Airbase Camp Stronghold Freedom." Joining with Russia, the U.S. even blocked provisions of a defense ministers' communique calling for an international investigation of Karimov's brutal attack on his own people in 2005. (81) It was the Uzbek regime that eventually announced, for its own reasons, that the base would be closed.


While Washington now claims that its clients must democratize too, it expresses a telling degree of satisfaction with minimal cosmetic changes that can be touted as the start of a long process. Thus Ottaway points to "Excessive praise" for slight changes made by some absolute monarchies--such as Secretary of State Colin Powell's praise in December 2002 for the allegedly "bold political reforms" in some of them--as evidence that the U.S. is not serious about promoting democracy. (82) Similarly, changes in Egypt allowing some contestation in the 2005 presidential election which were effectively negated by the rule that only government-recognized parties (not including the main opposition group, the Muslim Brethren) could participate and by the requirement that independent candidates get 300 signatures from members of government-controlled local councils (not to mention the certainty that Mubarak's rivals would face the same kinds of hurdles that previously had prevented opposition parties from winning more than a small number of seats in the parliament) met with effusive, exaggerated statements of approval. Apparently reflecting the rose-colored glasses through which Washington saw the situation, First Lady Laura Bush lauded Mubarak's meaningless electoral reform as "a very wise and bold step," much to the chagrin of democratizers in Egypt. Sa'd al-Din Ibrahim later characterized her as having "frustrated the democrats and delighted the autocrats." (83)

American policymakers demonstrated bizarre double standards in comparing and contrasting electoral developments in Egypt and Iran during June 2005. Bush condemned the presidential elections in Iran--remarkably competitive in comparison with anything in American client states--as violating "the basic requirements of democracy" and talked of the Iranian regime's "oppressive record." His press secretary tried to explain away the inconsistency by asserting that "difficult circumstances require different strategies." Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice argued that the difference between Egypt and Iran was that the latter had become less open during the past few years. She apparently was unaware that it was Mubarak who had moved in a more repressive direction during the past two decades, or perhaps her mind had filtered out what did not fit with the administrations' worldview. Quipping that the only way in which "'freedom' has been expanded ... has been the freedom of the presidency from the informal constraints that earlier limited its authority," Brownlee concludes that "pluralism has declined markedly" during Mubarak's term. (84)

When their double standard stares them in the face, spokespeople for Washington's line have spouted out crude apologies. Thus National Security Advisor Steven J. Hadley confused completely different issues:
 They [Iran and Egypt] couldn't be more different cases. Iran
 is the No. 1 state sponsor of terror. Egypt is fighting terror.
 Iran's policy is to get rid of Israel. Egypt is fostering the peace

It would not have occurred to someone with his mentality that greater democracy is precisely what would undermine Egypt's peace with Israel. And he demonstrated utter historical ignorance in magnifying the significance of Egypt's small step toward democratization by asserting that one should not expect perfection for a country (i.e., Egypt) that "has not had an election for seven thousand years." (85) Speaking in Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the same month, Rice's announcement that Washington was ending its policy of supporting "stability at the expense of democracy in this region" evoked apparent irritation from members of the ruling elites. This "conciliatory tone" toward those regimes (including references to the history of slavery and racism in the United States) combined with harsh talk about Syria and Iran brought criticism from Egyptian opposition groups, (86) whose members clearly recognized the hypocrisy of such rhetoric.

As for other favored client states, Jordan, has been described as "goose-stepping backward" from political liberalization. (87) In 2002 Jullian Schwedler was able to characterize the Hashimite Kingdom (the sort of country that the United States would be expected to "start with" if it was really "serious about promoting democracy") as "one of Washington's favorite Arab nations" in that "[i]t has democratized 'enough', legalizing political parties and holding elections, but manipulating the electoral system to prevent opposition voices from gaining any real power and quashing embarrassing anti-American and anti-Israeli demonstrations." The U.S. preaches about the need for democracy in the region but continues to "turn a blind eye toward the deterioration of political freedoms" there. (88)

While Washington at times would like its clients to undergo some cosmetic democratization or political liberalization, that is hardly the same as wanting them to make real transitions to democracy in which opposition parties could realistically aspire to win elections and take over the reins of government. That has been the pattern in the past, and there is nothing to make one think that it is fundamentally different now. In an essay published in 2003 (and nothing that has occurred since then appears to make his conclusions obsolete), Daniel Brumberg shows that the kind of liberalization that has occurred in autocratic Arab regimes which Washington favors "when it comes to our friends," hardly provides a path toward the emergence of democracy. Much as Ottaway talks about "semi-democracies" (see above), Brumberg maintains instead, that such changes result in "liberalized autocracies" with some pluralism and openness, and some representation of "opposition" parties in parliaments but with control left in the hands of the autocrats. (89) Such an arrangement actually consolidates authoritarian regimes by giving them some legitimacy at home and abroad giving "opposition" groups "a way to blow off steam" without threatening the regime. This actually makes it "more difficult to move ... to genuine democratization" and constitutes "transitions to nowhere." (90) Even if aid in such matters as judicial practice contributes to the establishment of democracy in the long run, "in the short and medium term ... Western aid projects do nothing more than burnish and enhance the repressive status quo," allowing rulers to put a more presentable face on their continuing authoritarianism. (91)

This is not the first time reform falling short of real democracy and in fact consolidating authoritarian rule has been touted in such a fashion. When Anwar al-Sadat began to allow opposition "pulpits" (minbars) within the ruling party and then moved on to permitting opposition parties to form, American observers sometimes proclaimed this an important step toward real democracy. Sadat was lauded as Egypt's Ismet Inonu, Kemal Ataturk's successor who ushered in a transition to democracy in Turkey by 1950. Sadat's authoritarianism actually intensified, with fatal consequences for him, but Hushi Mubarak long was pictured optimistically as resuming his democratizing mission. It was long after Mubarak had clearly moved backward that a more pessimistic image of his regime took hold among American commentators. During the early 1990s, when President George H.W. Bush was proclaiming the emergence of a "New World Order," Middle East democratization was assumed to be a major component of this. If the restoration of a ruling monarchy in Kuwait in 1991 failed to fit as neatly as some would have liked with the proclaimed American mission to spread democracy, it was repeatedly at least insinuated that the Emir would turn over power to a freely elected parliament once he was restored to his throne. In the years before the Iranian Revolution it would have been difficult to find any reference in the mainstream American press to Muhammad Reza Shah as an authoritarian ruler. The popular impression of his regime was of one that was at least partly democratic, with an elected Majlis sharing real power. One can say the same about the perception reflected in statements of political leaders and in the mainstream press of other American client regimes, such as those in Morocco and Jordan.


Is it possible that Washington could paint itself (or, as Frankfurt might say, "bullshit" itself) into a corner and find that there is no way to avoid ushering in the kind of popular rule that would undermine imperial control? In the aftermath of the first American war on Iraq, which confirmed my hypothesis about the insincerity of the U.S.'s rhetoric about democracy, I confessed that momentarily I had wondered whether the elder President Bush was getting so carried away with rhetoric about democracy in Iraq and Kuwait that he would undermine the American empire. (92) In that case, the imperial imperative prevailed. The younger Bush and the neoconservatives around him however, seem more enmeshed in the rhetoric, showing determination to complete the earlier mission and to amend and atone for the sin of having let realism divert Washington from its moralistic crusade for democracy. While the imperial imperative of preventing noncompliant populaces from gaining control is stronger than ever, the possibility of rhetoric undermining realpolitik remains. This brings us back to Barnett's concept of "symbolic entrapment" (see above), in which a leader who proclaims loyalty to a normative principle such as Arabism "is expected to deliver with action and material commitments" in order to avoid "endanger[ing] his reputation and standing." (93)


United States policy in occupied Iraq provides a case in point. During the first year it kept making excuses for not holding elections, apparently fearing that a popularly elected government would not be to its liking. In fact, the first American viceroy, Jay Garner, later claimed that it was his own alleged support for free elections (and opposition to fast privatization) that led to his being replaced after one month. (94) Rather than teaching democracy by example, Bremer came to be known for his "imperious and authoritarian ways." His "unwillingness to hand over power to Iraqis further fueled resentment." (95) While it is hard to imagine that the pretense of legitimation through democratic procedures could totally have been avoided (even as part of a purportedly "transitional" arrangement), it seems that the original plan for Iraq was to install Ahmad Chalabi in power. (96) Larry Diamond, an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority during the early months of 2004 (who took the job on the request of his old friend and colleague, Condoleeza Rice), reports that Vice President Chaney and the neoconservatives in the Pentagon in particular (notably, the group whose rhetoric is so ideological in espousing "democracy") "were looking to hand power fairly quickly to Ahmed Chalabi." (97) According to Christoph Wilcke, "the US toyed briefly with a quick handover of power to returning Iraqi exiles before realizing that hardly any of them could lay claim to the title of 'local leader'." Wilcke describes "[t]he Pentagon-dominated CPA [as] downright disdainful of elections," with "the former exiles on the IGC fear[ing] that elections would expose their lack of popular support." (98) Juan Cole reports information "from insiders that in April, 2003, Jay Garner let it slip to some of his staff that his charge was to turn Iraq over to Ahmad Chalabi within six months" and that they in turn "blew the whistle on Bush," thwarting his plan. (99) David Phillips, former senior adviser involved in the State Department's Future of Iraq Project and organizer of the "Democratic Principles Working Group" in 2002 whose planning the Pentagon disregarded, tells us that the plan of the neoconservatives from the beginning was "to anoint" Ahmad Chalabi "as "Iraq's future leader" and that "empowering Iraqis was antithetical to the Pentagon's goal of" installing him. (100)

If Iraqis were to choose their government, Washington wanted to minimize the democratic nature of the choice, that is, to insulate the process "from the popular passions that might overcome full national elections." (101) While recognizing concerns about the difficulties involved, Diamond recognized that "a major effort" early in the summer of 2003 would have made elections for a constitutional assembly in the first part of the next year feasible but maintains that the fear of an Islamist victory got in the way. (102) Apparently, meaning to convey irony, Diamond remembered "losing count" of the times "the United States was finding itself on what appeared to be the less democratic side of an argument with Iraqis over transitional procedures." (103)

The Americans' plan to rely on a network of "caucuses" is also revealing of their resistance to allowing democracy. It was the adamant opposition of Ayatullah Ali al-Sistani 2004 that resulted in a dropping of this plan to choose representatives and instead, to holding elections. (104) It was Sistani's fatwa (juridical ruling) rejecting the caucus plan as "fundamentally unacceptable" that eventually spoiled the American plan, although it took several months for Bremer to see that there was no way to get Sistani to reverse his opinion or to rally sufficient support elsewhere. According to Rajiv Chandresekaran, (105) "American political officers were too isolated to grasp the power of the edict [sic] right away, assuming that secular former exiles backed by the U.S. government would push Bremer's plan," while "it took months even for Iraqis to grasp the influence of Sistani's fatwa." Such caucuses were designed to constitute a "well-choreographed ... process" whereby candidates would be chosen from a list chosen by the "hand-picked" Iraqi Governing Council or by local officials collaborating with the occupiers, that is, essentially a process of indirect selection by the occupation authority. (106) According to Diamond, (107) "not many outside the CPA had confidence that the process would be transparent, inclusive, and fair," noting that the sub-national councils that would participate in choosing caucus members were themselves appointed by the CPA or by military commanders.

Under the plan, in each province five members of the IGC [Iraqi Governing Council], five members of the provincial council and a member of each of the five largest city councils were to form a 15-person organizing committee. This committee would then oversee the vetting of candidates for a provincial caucus [in fact, it would choose the members of the caucus]. This caucus, in turn, would select a number of delegates proportionate to the province's share of the national population to a newly formed interim national assembly. (108)

This was an undemocratic proposal to create a government "based on co-optation and potentially clientelism ... meant to be closed meetings of notables, rather than open ones of citizens," representing a rejection of democratic procedures "just because one's side would lose" if they occurred, which "is certainly the wrong way to begin a democracy." (109)

In a remarkable case of "symbolic entrapment," it thus was clearly the fear of a massive hostile Shi'ite reaction led by Ayatullah Sistani that forced the occupiers' hand, resulting in elections instead of caucuses. In the face of this "nonviolent resistance" to the plans for undemocratic caucuses, Washington "had no recourse but to allow the elections," (110) although for a while there was an attempt to get Sistani to acquiesce in a plan "to make the caucus system look more democratic without changing it in a fundamental way. (111) Salim Lone, (112) former director of communications for the United Nations, put the causes of the then-current "uprising in support of democracy" in proper perspective: "It is the US that has refused to allow elections.... in order to continue to exercise control over Iraq. Even before the latest crisis, Paul Bremer ... had trouble enough with his handpicked governing council. Dealing with an elected body that would demand a real say in running the country would be an endless battle." As'ad Abu Khalil (113) expressed his "amazement" in April 2004 over the way Washington had been "fighting tooth and nail against the prospects of democracy and elections, while there is an Ayatollah in southern Iraq who has not left his house in six years, calling to the United States to adhere to its old promises of holding elections." Thus it was only because of a realization that the occupiers "could not simultaneously take on both the armed Sunnis ... and [italics in original] the immense masses that would rally to the call of the leading Shi'ite clerics of Najaf' that made them give up on their "pure top down proposal." (114)

As a Syrian political analyst put the matter in a later context, Ayatullah Sistani "could unleash hell in the Fertile Crescent" if the Americans clash with him, making it impossible for them not to accept his vision of democracy in Iraq. (115) And when what the Americans considered the "wrong guys" won the election, the Bush administration "had no choice but to embrace" them. (116)

The original plan of the occupiers was to draw up a constitution themselves. It was Sistani's demand that this be left to "a democratic body" that thwarted them. (117) Thus to the extent to which Washington has facilitated democratization in Iraq, it has been the result of the occupying troops having become virtual hostages of Sistani.

After Washington was forced to acquiesce in Sistani's call for elections, there still was a plan to interfere with the process, with Iran's alleged aid to its own preferred candidates providing the rationale. In October 2004, Time magazine revealed that a plan for providing aid to the candidates the United States favored (though "not necessarily to go so far as to rig the elections") was thwarted only when the House of Representatives' Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi got wind of it and expressed her outrage to Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice (Burger and Waller; also see Cole, September 28, 2004), thus throwing a monkey wrench in the administration's scheme (again, a case of "symbolic entrapment"). Officials involved later confirmed that following adoption of the plan by his security team, President Bush "had already signed it or was about to [do so] when objections were raised by Congress." Although "he rescinded the decision," some officials reported that the administration still "went ahead with covert election activities ... that were conducted by retired C.I.A. officers and other non-government personnel, and used funds that were not necessarily appropriated by Congress." (118) According to a "a high-ranking United Nations official," the Americans "rigged" the election (thus explaining how their candidate, Iyad Allawi's, party was able to get 14 percent of the vote), but not "well enough," as others--who in any case had more authentic support--were engaged in rigging too. (119)

Washington even demonstrated fear of holding local elections during the early occupation period. This reflects an attitude that parallels the position of many authoritarian leaders that their countries are "not ready for democracy' (meaning, in effect, not ready to choose candidates they prefer). It also reveals apprehension that real contestation would stand in the way of installing an authoritarian client regime. According to Diamond, the CPA vetoed elections favored by officials in Basra Province for choosing local councils there (along with "other democratic initiatives") out of fear that this would undermine the argument that such voting on a national level was impractical for the immediate future and also because they did not want to accept the outcome of such local elections and their own loss of control.

Aside from a few exceptions in the British-occupied south where "rough and ready elections" took place, it was "local coalition military commands, sometimes working with U.S. civilian contractors," that chose local councils. (120) According to Diamond, who considers this one of their major mistakes, the occupiers completely "ruled out ... direct elections, which however took place "in a few small towns." With members of councils "selected, not elected.... the CPA tried to control the outcome by relying on handpicked local leaders to participate in neighborhood councils," which then "selected a provincial council, which finally selected a governor," while the American army intervened to prevent Iraqis from holding their own elections. (122) Garner apparently wanted to hold local elections quickly, and this may have been the reason for his replacement. He is said to have blamed those who feared elections would get in the way of privatizing the economy and thus preventing the acquisition of state property on the cheap (as in post-Soviet Russia). But Professor Roger B. Myerson of the University of Chicago believes that it was the American-backed former expatriates, e.g., Chalabi, who feared that elections would constitute an impediment to their own political success and thus convinced those "at the highest level of our [the United States] government" to cancel local elections and thus to "permanently derail Iraq's progress toward democracy." (123) Bremer maintained that early elections would be "destructive," that is, that "the people who are rejectionists tend to win." (124)


The possibility that a formal democratic process could be manipulated to thwart the will of the majority and allow imperial control to be sustained is worth considering. Combined with undemocratic features such as the supermajorities introduced in post-2003 Iraq, could classic "divide-and-conquer" techniques help achieve such an outcome?. (125) This kind of minority veto in the spirit of what students of comparative politics call "consociational democracy" (126) is often touted as an alternative to full democracy, with its emphasis on political equality and majority rule. As proponents of consociationalism tell us, full majoritarian democracy may not be realistic in deeply divided societies in which minorities are unwilling to submit themselves to the will of the majority, but consociationalism may equally be unviable if majorities see it as a way of perpetuating imperial rule by using relatively small majorities to thwart national independence. Where the majority feels a deep sense of injustice, it is doubtful whether any constitutional order can survive-the alternatives being a new despotism or a breakup along ethnic/sectarian lines. Even the quintessential realist, Morgenthau, (127) among others, emphasizes the crucial nature of the "expectation of justice" as a foundation of peace within any state.

Penetration of civil society provides another avenue for subverting the will of a subject country. Pointing to cases such as the Chilean elections of 1964 as well as elections in Italy and France during the late 1940s, James Petras describes "ostensible 'civil society' organizations" as "a battering ram to overthrow regimes and organize electoral outcomes"--the takeover of countries through "'soft coups' or 'civil society revolutions'." (128) A more elaborate explanation of the way the United States promotes a kind of formal democracy that actually involves "the suppression of popular democracy" through penetrating civil society organizations (and drawing on Gramsci's concept of hegemony) has been presented by William Robinson. (129) But while such techniques may suffice to maintain imperial objectives in some places, particularly as a supplement to divide-and-rule techniques, the intense mix of Islamism, Arabism, sectarianism, territorial nationalism, and anti-imperialism in today's Arab world are too strong to allow this.

The fact that elections have occurred hardly means that democracy is or will be established. Alternatives include the continuing absence of any sort of state and a breakup into three or more states, perhaps autocratic in each case. In the absence of a military force that can control the country, Washington lacks the capacity to find a Husni al-Za'im, a General Zahedi, or an Augusto Pinochet to establish an autocratic client regime. However as Christopher Preble (130) of the conservative Cato Institute suggests, if any elected government turns out not to be satisfactory to the Bush administration, it may ultimately drop "its alleged attachment ... to democracy."


What almost everyone overlooks but which points to the most remarkable inconsistency of those who make "democracy" a universal demand on others, is the blatantly authoritarian nature of such calls. If the practice of democracy is the touchstone of acceptability ("freedom" as an absolute right granted by God, as President Bush says), democratization on a global scale, not just within countries should constitute an even greater imperative. One stands agape hearing calls backed up by military might for other countries to adopt democracy. It is the obviously despotic--if rarely noted--nature of a militarily dominated world empire that evoked a tongue-in-cheek suggestion by one British journalist that people in "Liverpool and Leipzig" should be allowed to vote in American presidential elections--even that "would-be voters of downtown Baghdad might like a say." Otherwise, "the world is disenfranchised." (132) The whole idea of a "hegemon" (in this case, one whose population, regardless of how democratic is deemed to be internally, represents only about 5 percent of the world's population) that is above the law as necessary for maintaining world order and therefore for the benefit of the world (providing "goods," as some writers say) reflects the views of Thomas Hobbes' s justification for absolute monarchy and a complete rejection on the global level of John Locke's constitutionalism that modern democracy on a domestic level grew out of.

There is more to this issue than that, for the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law cannot be separated from democracy. It is at least ironic that a war that, if taken at face value, demonstrates a dogmatic commitment to establishing democracy everywhere has been carried out not only with the essential cooperation of highly favored autocratic clients such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but also in blatant disregard of the United Nations Charter. As Huntington tells us, democracies have been "made by the methods of democracy (which he defines as involving only peaceful procedures), there was no other way." (133) Although Huntington admits that external violence has brought democracy into existence in a few cases, the use of such dictatorial methods by a global hegemon violates the whole spirit of democracy. (134) Robert A. Dahl warns that when the regime that preceded an authoritarian system also was authoritarian and when the conditions within that country are not conducive to democracy, even an attempt by a democratic country that tries to impose democracy likely will backfire. With regard to the successes in the former Axis powers after 1945, Dahl points to "favorable conditions" that facilitated this and warns us of the danger of "simplistic and overoptimistic assumptions" that create the "delusion" of possible success if applied elsewhere. (135) More to the point, the war against the Axis powers that imposed democracy was in response to aggression, it was not an act of aggression in violation of a fundamental norm of international law stated in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter (and thus so contrary to Huntington's "means of democracy") generally opposed as both illegal and unwise by the international community, as was the case with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (136) Furthermore, unlike in the case of the Arab world, there was no incentive for the United States to establish or maintain autocratic client regimes in the former Axis powers.

Even with free elections, a country under foreign military occupation is ruled by its occupiers, not its demos. Such "democracy" is "oxymoronic" and serves only to legitimate the occupiers' role and to facilitate the classic divide-and-rule tactics of colonialism, as Achin Vanaik has pointed Out. (137) Of course, the reality of unequal power has always imposed limits on the reality of democracy in a particular country, (138) but not in the blatant way represented here. The previous existence of some sort of multipolar or bipolar balance of power always mitigated the authoritarianism of the international system.


Washington's recently ramped-up rhetoric about the necessity of democratizing the Middle East serves as an important ideological rationalization for the consolidation of the American empire. It provides a dramatic example of the tendency pointed out by Morthenthau for political leaders to wrap realpolitik in idealistic guises. Such rationalizations serve not only to satisfy the needs of policymakers to feel a sense of rectitude, but perhaps more importantly they provide material for the compliant mass media to engage in what Herman and Chomsky call "manufacturing consent" (in this case, both at home and abroad). This rhetoric also is analogous to what Barnett identified as "impression management" in his study of Arab leaders' past attempts to show their loyalty to pan-Arab causes. As in other cases of what Frankfurt calls "bullshit," that is not to say that those who engage in such are conscious that they are not telling the truth. They may be internalizing their rationalizations, with groupthink helping them to do so. Thus at least one critical analyst already has concluded that "the rhetoric [of the Bush administration relating to democracy in Iraqi was sincere-even if [its] understanding of "democracy is different from that of many Iraqis." (139) As for President Bush, Seymour Hersh (140) has expressed amazement that he
 ... absolutely believes in what he's doing.... This guy is
 absolutely convinced ... that he has got to bring democracy to
 Iraq," despite his "diminished ambitions" for Syria and Iran....
 He is strange in one way. You know, Wolfowitz, who if
 nothing, if not smart, would understand this, but Bush is truly
 a Trotskyite, a believer in permanent revolution.

Still, however much those who spout it out really believe it, actions are bound to fly in the face of such rhetoric. As Eric Hobsbawm bluntly put the matter, "Electoral democracy is also unlikely to produce outcomes convenient to hegemonic or imperial powers." (141) Rhetoric about supporting Arab democracy fits a pattern in which the Bush administration announces dramatic new plans on matters such as a vast increase in aid to Africa, (142) that serve the purpose of impression management, but on which a closer look reveals a huge gap between rhetoric and reality. The imperatives of informal empire include, first of all, the maintenance of client regimes (using Galtung's terms again, alliances between the center of the Periphery and the center of the Center). When the periphery of the Periphery is not supportive of such alliances, as is the case generally in the Arab world, authoritarian centers of the Periphery are required to maintain this pattern. While democracy might serve as a useful tactic to undermine independent regimes such as those in Syria and Iran (at least until a Za'im or a shah can be put in power), democracy in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt would portend the undoing of the present imperial structure.

It is true that, as in the case of Ayatullah Sistani's forcing Bush's hand with regard to holding elections in Iraq, "symbolic politics" sometimes leads to "symbolic entrapment" (another term Barnett uses in the context of 20th-century Arab politics) in particular instances. This could result in the weakening of American hegemony in the region and elsewhere, which however is more likely to occur for other reasons. The imperatives of empire fundamentally contradict the idea and practice of democracy, particularly in the Arab world, but that is not to say that the end of the imperial pattern necessarily would bring democratization.


(1.) Robert Jervis, "Understanding the Bush Doctrine." In Demetrios James Caraley, American Hegemony, Preventive War, Iraq and Imposing Democracy (New York: The Academy of Political Science, 2004), pp. 3, 4, and passim.

(2.) Johan Galtung, "A Structural Theory of Imperialism," Journal of Peace Research, no. 2 (1971), pp. 81-116; also see Glenn E. Perry, "Democracy and Human Rights in the Shadow of the West." Arab Studies Quarterly 14 (Fall 1992): 1-22.

(3) Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 7th ed., revised by Kenneth W. Thompson and W. David Clinton (Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2006), p. 29.

(4.) Morgenthau, Politics, pp. 97-100

(5.) Irving L. Janis, "Groupthink among Policy Makers." In Sanctions for Evil, ed. Nevitt Sanford and Craig Comstock (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1971), p. 5 (<>).

(6.) Jervis, "Understanding," pp. 3-5.

(7.) Sam Roberts, "U.S. Study Pinpoints Near Misses by Allies in Fathoming the Unfolding Holocaust," New York Times, 31 July 2005, p. A8.

(8.) Michael N. Barnett, Dialogues in Arab Politics: Negotiations in Regional Order (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p. 10.

(9.) CBS News, 2005. On the same program, Morley Safer also cites another recent work, Laura Penny, Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth about BS, which mentions the two most recent United States presidents as great examples--with Bush "an incredible Bser [bullshitter] because he pretends not to be a B-ser."

(10.) Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. 18, 56.

(11.) Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988), p. xiv. See pp. 87ff on the double standards applied to Third World elections in the past.

(12.) Adda B. Bozeman, Politics and Culture in International History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960), p. 123.

(13.) A Google search for "democracy hypocrisy" reveals an extraordinary recurrence of the phrase. See, for example, Nat Parry "Bush and Democracy Hypocrisy" (Part 1). Consortium News, 22 December 2003 (<>) and Part 2, "The Hypocrisy at Home," 5 January 2005 (< 2003/010504.html>).

(14.) Scott Shane, "C.I.A. Role in Visit of Sudan Intelligence Chief Causes Dispute Within Administration," New York Times, 18 June 2005, p. A9.

(15.) Bob Herbert, "Iraq, Then and Now," New York Times, 21 February 2005, p. A21.

(16.) Thomas Carothers and Marina Ottaway, eds., Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), p. vii.

(17.) Steve R. Weisman and Neil MacFarquhar, "U.S. Plan for Mideast Reform Draws Ire of Arab Leaders," New York Times, 27 February 2004, p. A3. Support for democratization and support for private business activities sometimes get hopelessly confused. See Steven R. Weisman, "U.S.-Backed Meeting of Muslim Nations Ends in Discord," New York Times, 13 November 2005, p. A4.

(18.) Bradley Glasser, "Yes, We Still Support Arab Autocracy," Asia Times, 15 January 2005 (< East/ GA15Ak04.html>).

(19.) Noam Chomsky, 'Promoting Democracy in Middle East," Khaleej Times, 6 March 2005, available at Counter Currents (<>.)

(20.) Marina Ottaway et al., "Democratic Mirage in the Middle East," Policy Brief, October 2002 (< otm03.pdf>).

(21.) Marina Ottaway, "Promoting Democracy in the Middle East: The Problem of U.S. Credibility," Democracy and Rule of Law Project, Middle East Series, no. 35, March 2003, Working Papers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website (< HTMLBriefsWP/WP Number 35 March 2003/20009540v01.html>). For another version of this paper, see Marina Ottaway, "The Problem of Credibility" (Ch. 9), in Unfinished Journey, ed. Carothers and Ottaway, pp. 173-192.

(22.) Amy Hawthorne, "Is Civil Society the Answer?" (Ch. 5), in Uncharted Journey, ed. Carothers and Ottaway, pp. 81-113, also available as part of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project, Middle East Series, no. 44, March 2004, Working Papers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website (<>).

(23.) Marina Ottaway, Democracy Challenged: The Rise of Semi-Authoritarianism (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003), pp. 13, 6, and passim.

(24.) Mark Pecency, "Building Half-Assed Democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq," p. 5 and passim unpublished paper presented at the International Studies Association Conference, 17-20 March 2004, available online at the American Political Science Association's PROL [Political Research On Line] site.

(25.) Ramzy Baroud, "Managed Democracy," CounterPunch, 2/4 July 2005 (<>).

(26.) Marina Ottaway, "Don't Confuse Women's Rights and Democracy," International Herald Tribune, 30 March 2004, available on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website (< 5&prog=zgp&proj=zdrl>).

(27.) For fervent expositions of neoconservative rhetoric about "America's mission," see Joshua Muravchik, Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny, revised paperback ed. (Washington, D.C.: The AEI Press, 1992 and Lawrence F. Kaplan and William Kristol, The War over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003).

(28.) Joseph T. Siegle and Morton H. Halperin, "Bush's Rhetoric Battles with His Policies," International Herald Tribune, 8 February 2005 (<>).

(29.) E.g., Lisa Anderson, "Arab Democracy: Dismal Prospects," World Policy Journal 18 (Fall 2001) (< articles/wpj01-3/anderson.pdf>).

(30.) Ray Takeyh and Nikolas K. Gvosdev, "Democratic Impulses versus Imperial Interests: America's New Mid-East Conundrum," Orbis 47 (Summer 2003), pp. 419, 15 (<>).

(31.) Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, with Leslie Heffel, "U.S. Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Feuling conflict? U.S. Military Aid and Arms Transfers Since September 11," A World Policy Institute Special Report, June 2005 (< wawjune2005.html>).

(32.) Stephen Zunes, "Idealistic Rhetoric Disguises Sinister Policies," Foreign Policy in Focus, 22 September 2004, p. 3 (<>).

(33.) Ottaway, "Promoting Democracy."

(34.) Thomas Carothers, "Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror," Foreign Affairs 82 (January/February 2003), p.84 (< 54&RQT=309&VName=PQD>).

(35.) Graham E. Fuller, "Islamists in the Arab World: The Dance Around Democracy," Democracy and Rule of Law Project, Middle East Series, Number 49, September 2004, Carnegie Papers, p. 6 (<, also published as "Islamists and Democracy" (Ch. 3), in Uncharted Journey, ed. Carothers and Ottaway, pp. 37-55.

(36.) Rahul Majajan, "Bush, Iraq, and Demonstration Elections," Empire Notes (<>), also posted on Common Dreams News Center, 27 September 2004 <>) Also see Barbara Ann J. Rieffer, "US Democracy Promotion: A Comparison of the Clinton and Bush Administrations," unpublished paper available at PROL (Political Research Online) (< search.php>).

(37.) Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers, "The Greater Middle East Initiative: Off to a False Start," Policy Brief, March 2004, pp.2,4 (<http://www.carnegieendowment.or/g/pdf/files/Policybrief.pdf>). For similar views by the same authors see "Middle East Democracy," Foreign Policy, November/December 2004 .(<>).

(38.) Paula J. Dobriansky and Thomas Carothers, "Democracy Promotion," Foreign Affairs 82 (no. 3): May/June 2003. (< homas-carothers/democracy-promotion.html>).

(39.) Michael Ignatieff, "Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread?" New York Times Magazine, 26 June 2005, p. 44. Also see Roger Burbach and Paul Cantor, "Bush's Big Democratic Hoax in Iraq," CounterPunch, 29 June 2005 (< burbach06292005.html>).

(40.) See Gary Schmitt, "Democracy in the Muslim World" (Memorandum to: Opinion Leaders), Project for the New American Century website, 6 December 2002 (< middleeast-120602.htm>).

(41.) Fawaz A. Gerges, "Empty Promises of Freedom," New York Times, July 18, 2003, p. A21. For another frank admission of America's "hypocritical" position, see Friedman, Thomas L. Friedman, "The Gridlock Gang," New York Times, 26 February 2003, p. A27.

(42.) Secretary Condaleeza Rice, "Remarks at the American University in Cairo," 20 June 2005, U. S. Department of State (<>).

(43.) Joe Lockard, "Hegemonic Democracy in the Middle East," Tikkun, May/June 2005, p. 26.

(44.) See Victor Davis Hanson, "Democracy in the Middle East: It's the Hardheaded Solution," The Weekly Standard, 21 October 2002 (< qn.asp>).

(45.) Takeyh and Gvosdev, "Democratic Impulses," p. 415.

(46.) Anderson, "Arab Democracy."

(47.) Lisa Anderson, as paraphrased by Jane Perlez, "A Middle East Choice: Peace or Democracy," New York Times, 28 November 1999, p. 6 of the "News of the Week" section, also at < 3040_1142.htm>. Also see Peter Berkowitz, "Liberty First, Democracy Later," Haaretz, 10 June 2005; Uri Avnery, "Djinn in the Box, "CounterPunch, April 4, 2005 (<>); Barbara Crossette, "Democracies Love Peace, Don't They?" New York Times, 1 June 1997, News of the Week, p. 3; and Gary J. Bass, "Democracy's Sword, New York Times, 8 March 1997, p. A21.

(48.) David Hirst, "Dangerous Democracy," The Guardian, 20 April 2005.

(49.) Takeyh and Gvosdev, "Democratic Impulses," pp. 425-426

(50.) James Bennet, "Just Try to Imagine a Palestinian Democracy," New York Times, 19 May 2002, The Week in Review, p. 3. Also see Jane Perlez, "A Middle East Choice: Peace or Democracy," New York Times, 28 November 1999, available at < 3040_1142.htm>.

(51.) For a critical analysis of "democratic peace" theory, see Errol A. Henderson, Democracy and War: The End of an Illusion (Boulder, Colo. and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003).

(52.) Natan Sharansky, with Ron Dermer, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror (Washington, D.C.: public Affairs, 2005). On this, see Aluf Benn, "Limits to Sharansky's Ideal," Haaretz, 2 February, 2005.

(53.) See Uri Avnery, "Natan Sharansky: Minister of Ignorance, Bush's Guru," Counterpunch, 10 March 2005 (< avnery03102005.html

(54.) Zvi Bar'el, "Pro-democracy and anti-U.S.," Haaretz, 4 April 2005, available on the WorldAndUS: Perceptions of the United States and the World website (< prodemocracy_an.php>).

(55.) Glenn E. Perry, "The Arab Democracy Deficit: The Case of Egypt," Arab Studies Quarterly, 26 (Spring 2004), p. 99.

(56.) Barnett, Arab Politics, pp. 46 and passim.

(57.) Stephen Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987), pp. 55-57.

(58.) Studies documenting the secret friendship between these supposed "enemies" include Avi Shlaim, Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (Oxford: The Clarendon Press; New York: Columbia University Press, 1988); Uri Bar-Joseph, The Best of Enemies: Israel and Transjordan in the War of 1948 (London: Frank Cass, 1987); Yoav Gelber, Jewish-Transjordanian Relations 1921-1948 (London and Portland, Ore., 1997); and Joseph Nevo, King Abdullah and Palestine: A Territorial Ambition (London: Macmillan Press; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996).

(59.) Douglas Little, "Cold War and Covert Action: The United States and Syria, 1945-1958," Middle East Journal 44 (Winter 1990), pp. 51-75.

(60.) Avi Shlaim, "Withdrawal is a Prelude to Annexation," The Guardian, 22 June 2005 (< comment/0,10551,1511839,00.html>).

(61.) Aluf Benn, "Suddenly, Democracies Are Poppin' Up All Over," Haaretz, 3 April 2005 (< ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=547808&contrassID=13>).

(62.) Shibley Telhami, "Sympathy for the Palestinians," Washington Post, 25 July 2002 (available on the Anwar Sadat Peace and Development site, < estinians.htm>).

(63.) Robert D. Kaplan, "Barren Ground for Democracy," New York Times, 14 November 2004, Week in Review, p. 11.

(64.) Arnaud De Borchgrave, "Opinion: Hollow Ring for Democracy," Middle East Times, 27 June 2005

(65.) Marina Ottaway, Democracy Challenged, p. 50.

(66.) Robin Wright, "Iraq Winners Allied with Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision," Washington Post, 14 February 2005, p. A8. Also see Robert Fisk, "The Shia Will Inherit Iraq: This Election Will Change the World, But Not in the Way the US Wanted," CounterPunch, 29/30 January 2005 (<>).

(67.) Andoni, "A Twisted Logic," Bitter Lemons, 6 November 2003 (<>). Also Christopher Preble, "A Democratic Iraq May Not Be Friendly to U.S.," Cato Institute website, 14 April 2003 (<>) and Ottaway and Carothers, "Getting to the Core" (Ch. 13), in Carothers and Ottaway, Uncharted Journey, pp. 254, 266.

(68.) Caraley, American Hegemony, p. xi.

(69.) David L. Phillips, Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (Boulder, Colo. and London: Westview Press, 2005, p. 114; also see pp. 118-119.

(70.) See Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 3rd ed. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950, pp. 250ff and Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991, pp. 6ff.

(71.) Yuksel Taskin and Koray Caliskan, "Turkey's Dangerous Game," Middle East Report Online, 27 March 2003 (< mero/mero032703.html>).

(72.) Jillian Schwedler, "Don't Blink: Jordan's Democratic Opening and Closing," Middle East Report Online, 3 July 2002 (<>). Also see Marc Lynch, "Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington," Middle East Report Online, 8 May 2002 (<>) and Curtis R. Ryan, "Political Opposition, Democracy and Jordan's 2003 Elections," Perihelion, August 2003 (<>). Ryan, Curtis R., "Reform Retreats Amid Jordan's Political Storms," Middle East Report Online, 10 June 2005 (< mero061005.html>).

(73) Curtis R. Ryan, "Reform Retreats Amid Jordan's Political Storms," Middle East Report Online, 10 June 2005 ( mero/mero061005.html).

(74.) Todd S. Purdam, "It's Democracy, Like It or Not," New York Times, 9 March 2003, News of the Week, p. 3.

(75.) David Rieff, "Blueprint for a Mess: How the Bush Administration's Prewar Planners Bungled Postwar Iraq," New York Times Magazine, 2 November 2003, p. 32.

(76.) Fareed Zakaria, 2004: "Islam, Democracy, and Constitutional Liberalism." In American Hegemony, ed. Caraley, p. 187.

(77.) Jason Brownlee, "The Decline of Pluralism in Mubarak's Egypt," Journal of Democracy 13 (2002): p. 12.

(78.) Jonathan Steele, "Egypt Must Give Political Islam the Air to Breathe," The Guardian, 29 July 2005 (< comment/story/0,3604,1538547,00.html>).

(79.) Avi Shlaim, Avi, "Withdrawal is a Prelude to Annexation," The Guardian, 22 June 2005 (< comment/0,10551,1511839,00.html>).

(80.) Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers, "Middle East Democracy," Foreign Policy, November/December 2004 (< story/files/story2705.php>).

(81.) See R. Jeffrey Smith and Glenn Kessler, "U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings: Officials Feared Losing Air Base Access, Washington Post, June 14, 2005, p. A15; "A Tyrant's Best Friend" (blog posted 06/15,2005), The Nation (< bid+13&pid=3471>); and Stephen Zunes, "Bush Administration Support for Repression in Uzbekistan Belies Pro-Democracy Rhetoric," Foreign Policy in Focus, June 20 (<>).

(82.) Ottaway, Democracy Challenged, p. 15. For further discussion of double standards, see Stephen Zunes, "The U.S. and Iran: Democracy, Terrorism, and Nuclear Weapons," Foreign Policy in Focus, 26 July 2005 (<>).

(83.) Chris Toensing, "US Stays with Egyptian Dictator, The Middle East Research and Information Project website (>), also published in the Topeka Capital-Journal, 3 June 2005.

(84.) Brownlee, "Erosion," p. 5.

(85.) David E. Sanger, "Bush Says Iran's Elections Ignore 'Basic Requirements,," New York Times, 17 June 2005, p. A7.

(86.) Steven R. Weisman, "Rice Urges Egyptians and Saudis to Democratize," New York Times, 21 June 2005, p. 1.

(87.) Stephen Glain, "Letter from Jordan," The Nation, 30 May 2005 (<>). Also see Ryan, "Political Opposition."

(88.) Schwedler, "Don't Blink."

(89.) Daniel Brumberg, "Liberalization Versus Democracy: Understanding Arab Political Reform," Working Papers, Middle East Series, Democracy and Rule of Law Project, no. 37, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 2003, pp. 1 and passim (< 2003/20009541v01.html>). Another version is appears as "Liberalization versus Democracy" (Ch. 2), in Promoting Democracy, ed. Carothers and Ottaway, pp. 15-35. Also see Thomas Carothers, "The End of the Transition Paradigm," Journal of Democracy 13 (2002), pp. 5-21.

(90.) Brumberg, "Liberalization," pp.6, 7, 12.

(91.) Glasser, "Yes."

(92.) Perry, "Democracy and Human Rights," p. 12.

(93.) Barnett, passim, quote from p. 47.)

(94.) David Leigh, "General Sacked by Bush Says He Wanted Early Elections," The Guardian, 18 March 2004 (< Iraq/Story/0,2763,1171880,00.html>).

(95.) David L. Phillips, Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (Boulder, Colo. and London: Westview Press, 2005). pp. 144-145.

(96.) Joseph T. Siegle and Morton H. Halperin, "Bush's Rhetoric Battles with His Policies," International Herald Tribune, 8 February 2005 (<>).

(97.) Larry Diamond, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq (New York: Times Books, 2005), p. 28.

(98.) Christoph Wilcke, "Castles Built of Sand: US Governance and Exit Strategies in Iraq," Middle East Report, no. 232, Fall 2004 (<>). Also see Celeste J. Ward, "The Coalition Provisional Authority's Experience with Governance in Iraq: Lessons Identified," United States Institute of Peace Special Report 139, May 2005.

(99.) Informed Comment, 1 October 2004 (< 2004_10_01_juancole_archive.html>).

(100.) Phillips, Losing Iraq, pp. 7-8; on the initial plan to turn the country over to Chalabi ("who would quickly create a new democratic state"), see Larry Diamond, "What Went Wrong in Iraq?" Foreign Affairs 83 (September-October 2004) (< ssav83505/larry-diamond/what-went-wrong-in-iraq.html>).

(101.) Joel Brinkley, "Many Iraqis Fear that Voters, Given a Democratic Choice, Will Choose a Theocracy," New York Times, 7 December 2003, p. 14.

(102.) Diamond, Squandered Victory, p. 48.

(103.) Diamond, Squandered Victory, p. 198.

(104.) Dexter Filkins, "Iraqi Ayatollah Insists on Vote by End of Year," New York Times, 27 February 2004, p. 1.

(105.) Rajiv Chandresekaran, "How Cleric Trumped US Plan for Iraq: Ayatollah's Call for Vote Forced Occupation Leader to Rewrite Transition Strategy," Washington Post, 26 November 2003, p. A1 (< printer>). Also see Joel Brinkley and Ian Fisher, "US Plan in Iraq to Shift Control Hits Major Snag," New York Times, 27 November 2003.

(106.) See Ivan Eland, "Why Do Iowans Like to Caucus But Iraqis Don't," Common Dreams Newsletter, 21 January 2004 (<>).

(107.) Diamond, Squandered Victory, p. 81.

(108.) Wilcke, "Castles," p. 5. For charts illustrating the caucus scheme, see Joel Brinkley, "Iraqi Council Agrees on National Elections, Setting Up Panel to Examine Feasibility," New York Times, 1 December 2003, p. A10. Also see Alex Berenson, "Iraq's Shiites Insist on Democracy. Washington Cringes," New York Times, 30 November 2003, p. E6 and Edward Wong, "Iraq's Path Hinges on Words of Enigmatic Cleric," New York Times, 25 January 2004, pp. A1, A10. On Iraqi objections to the proposed caucuses, see Phillips, Losing Iraq, p. 180.

(109.) Andrew Arato, "Sistani v. Bush: Constitutional Politics in Iraq," Constellations 11 (June 2004), pp. 20, 13 (<>). Also see Andrew Arato, "The Occupation of Iraq and the Difficult Transition from Dictatorship," Constellations 10 (September 2003), pp. 1-25, available at: < Arato-OccupationOfIraq.pdf>.

(110.) Noam Chomsky, 'Promoting Democracy in Middle East," Khaleej Times, 6 March 2005, available at Counter Currents (<http://www.counter>).

(111.) Steven R. Weisman, "Bush Team Revising Plans for Granting Self-Rule to Iraqis," New York Times, 13 January 2004. Also see Cobban, Helena, "Just World News," 13 January 2004 (<>).

(112.) Salim Lone, "An Uprising in Support of Democracy," The Guardian, 13 April 2004, available at Common Dreams News Center (< 041306.htm>).

(113.) As'ad Abu Khalil, "Iraq Intifada: U.S. Faces New Resistance Front As Shiites Join Armed Uprising," Democracy Now, 6 April 2004 (<>).

(114.) Arato, "Sistani v. Bush," p. 2.

(115.) Sami Moubayed, "Coming to Terms with Sistani," Asia Times, 10 February 2005 (< East/ GB 10Ak02.html>).

(116.) Robert Scheer, "Iraq's Dangerous New Friend," The Nation, posted online 19 July 2005 (web only) (< doc.mhtml%3Fi=20050801&s=scheer0719>).

(117.) Phillips, Losing Iraq, p. 9, 173.

(118.) Douglas Jehl and David E. Sanger, "Plan Called for Covert Aid in Iraq Vote," New York Times, 17 July 2005(< 2005/07/17/politics/17elect.html>).

(119.) Seymour M. Hersh, "Get Out the Vote: Did Washington Try to Manipulate Iraq's Election?" The New Yorker, 25 July 2005.

(120.) Diamond, "What Went Wrong." Also see Diamond, Squandered Victory, pp. 45, 81.

(121.) Diamond, Squandered Victory, pp. 116, 310. On exceptional cases where neighborhood advisory councils were elected during this period, see Celeste J. Ward, "The Coalition Provisional Authority's Experience with Governance in Iraq: Lessons Identified," United States Institute of Peace Special Report 139, May 2005, p. 4ff. For promotional materials, see "Democracy and Government," USAID website (< accomplishments/locgov.html>) and "Supporting Iraq Local Governance, Health Care Training," RTI International website (< 7C82F5>). For critical analysis, see Pratap Chatterjee, "Inventing Iraqi Democracy in North Carolina," 1 July 2003, Corp Watch website, 1 July 2003 (<>) and Pratap Chatterjee, "Selection, Not Elections," Corp Watch website, 1 July 2004 (< election%2C+Not+Elections%22%2B%22War+Profiteers%22&x=14&y=10&fr omPage=NSBoom>).

(122.) Phillips, Losing Iraq, p. 170. On the broader early hesitancy of the occupiers to allow local elections, see William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "Occupation Forces Halt Elections Throughout Iraq," Washington Post, 28 June 2003, p. A20.; Christoph Wilcke, "Castles Built of Sand: US Governance and Exit Strategies in Iraq," Middle East Report, no. 232, Fall 2000 (<>); Rahul Majajan, "Bush, Iraq, and Demonstration Elections," Empire Notes (<>), also posted on Common Dreams News Center, 27 September 2004 (<> ); Robert Malley and Joost Hilterman, "Think Small in Iraq," New York Times, 30 November 2004; and Yaroslav Trofimov, "Iraqis Taste Democracy," Wall Street Journal, 18 February 2004, posted on the Global Policy Forum website, < racy.htm>. On L. Paul Bremer III's abrupt cancellation of elections, followed by the arrest of leaders of a new political party and shutting down its newspaper, in Najaf in June 2003, see David Rohde, "Iraqis Were Set to Vote, but U.S. Wielded a Veto," New York Times, 19 June 2003, also posted on the Common Dreams News Center website (< headlines03/0619-05.htm>). For a broad assessment of the early efforts to set up local councils--"non elected" and with "no real power"--following the American conquest, see Marina Ottaway, "Rebuilding Local Government in Iraq," Arab Reform Bulletin 1 (October 2003) (<>).

(123.) See Roger B. Myerson, "America's Failure to Build Democracy in Iraq," June 2004 (<>) and Cole, Informed Comment, 11 June 2004 (< 2004_06_01_juancole_archive.html>).

(124.) Phillips, Losing Iraq, p. 170.

(125.) See Becky Branford, "Iraq's Transitional Law under Fire," BBC News, April 11, 2005 (<>).

(126.) See Arend Lijphart, Arend, Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration (New Haven, Conn. and London: Yale University Press, 1977).

(127.) Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, pp. 506, 508-09.

(128.) James Petras, "Free Elections for Empire or Democracy?" Counterpunch, 23/24 April 2005 (< petras04232005.html>).

(129.) William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony. Cambridge Studies in International Relations: 48 (Cambridge, U.K. and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 62 and passim. Also see Maha M. Abdelrahman, Civil Society Exposed: The Politics of NGO's in Egypt (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2004).

(130.) Christopher Preble, "A Democratic Iraq May Not Be Friendly to U.S.," Cato Institute website, 14 April 2003 (< dailys/04-14-03-2.html>).

(131.) This phrase is borrowed from Juan Cole, "Democracy--By George?" Salon, 15 March 2005 (< 2005/03/16/democracy/print.html>).

(132.) Jonathan Freedland, "Still No Votes In Leipzig," The Guardian, 22 September 2004 (< 0,,1309707,00.html>).

(133.) Huntington, Third Wave, p. 164.

(134.) Huntington, Third Wave, p. 207.

(135.) Robert A. Dahl, Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition (New Haven, Conn. and London: Yale University Press, 1971), pp. 198ff; also see pp. 41ff, 211-212.

(136.) On the legal issues, see Glenn E. Perry, "Attacking Iraq and International Law," Arab Studies Quarterly 20 (Summer 1998), pp. 1-14.

(137.) Achin Vanaik, "The Iraq Elections: No Democratic Breakthrough," The Telegraph (Calcutta), 22 February 2005 available on TNI News, 24 March 2005 (<>).

(138.) See Dahl, Polyarchy, p. 12

(139.) Christoph Wilcke, "Castles Built of Sand: US Governance and Exit Strategies in Iraq," Middle East Report, no. 232, Fall 2004 (<>).

(140.) "Seymour Hersh: Iraq: Moving Towards Open Civil War" (interview of Hersh by Amy Goodman), Democracy Now, 11 May 2005 (<>).

(141.) Eric Hobsbawm, "The Dangers of Exporting Democracy," The Guardian, 22 January 2005 (< story/0,12271,1396157,00.html>).

(142.) See David Bryden, "Bush Overstates Africa Aid Increase," Foreign Policy in Focus, 20 July 2005 (< 0507aid.pdf>).

Glenn E. Perry is Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University, Terre Haute.
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Date:Jun 22, 2006
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