Much of the world wonders how the United States and the Bush Administration have been able to get Iraq so wrong in so many ways. Those people are also perplexed that the basis for the war – believing that democratizing Iraq would turn the region into a more peaceful and stable place – has never been seriously debated. A careful study of the errors of this strategy is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the United States as a world leader. Australia has more than a passing interest in this matter.
The US political system is an element that divides its society and, in order to overcome that division, they need a common enemy. That is part of a culture that dates back centuries. When the Twin Towers collapsed four years ago, the United States needed an enemy and the attack was immediately compared to Pearl Harbor. The automatic response was to declare war on the perpetrators but there was no formal declaration of war. The Congress simply remained passive to the actions of the Executive branch.
From the ideological point of view, nothing is new. In Viet Nam, the goal was preserving freedom at all costs. In Iraq, the neo-conservative ideology of promoting democracy prevails: if the country becomes a democracy it does not make any difference whether or not it had links with Al-Qaeda or had weapons of mass destruction. This combination of ideology, error and the incapacity to admit its errors led the Bush Administration to destabilize the “Great Middle East”. It is not possible to implement the US democracy model in Iraq as it is divided among various religious-ethnic groups. In the United States, ideology prevails over reason; let us hope that Washington may be able to change its point of view.

The Australian (Australia)

A war full of errors calls for a rethink”, by Harlan Ullman, The Australian, September 12, 2005.