It should not be.
For it reflects a quasi-religious transformation in George W.
Bush -- his political conversion to democratism, a faith-based
ideology that holds democracy to be the cure for mankind's ills,
and its absence to be the principal cause of terror and war.
In the theology of
a devout democratist, if Americans will only persevere in using
their power to convert the Islamic world, then the whole world,
to democracy, we will come as close as mankind can to creating
heaven on earth.
As Bush said in his
second inaugural, "So, it is the policy of the United States
to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions
in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending
tyranny in our world."
Speaking, three weeks
ago, to the 20th birthday conclave of the National Endowment for
Democracy, Bush recited the true believer's creed: "If the
peoples (of the Middle East) are permitted to choose their own
destiny ... by their participation as free men and women, then
the extremists will be marginalized and the flow of violent radicalism
to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end."
The president was
seconded by Vice President Cheney on CNN: "I think ... we
will, in fact, succeed in getting democracy established in Iraq,
and I think that when we do, that will be the end of the insurgency."
faith Bush has wagered his presidency, the lives of America's
best and bravest, and our entire position in the Middle East and
the world. But as the Los Angeles Times' Tyler Marshall
and Louise Roug report, U.S. field commanders George Casey and
John Abizaid are skeptical that any election where Iraq's Sunnis
are dispossessed of pre-eminence and power will ensure an end
to terror. It may, they warn, bring new Sunni support for the
the Bush faith is Brian Jenkins, a terrorism specialist at RAND.
He cites Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Northern Ireland
as countries where democracy has failed to end political violence.
Nathan Brown, a Mideast
expert at the Carnegie Endowment, agrees: "The democratic
process as it has worked so far (in Iraq) has certainly done nothing
to undermine the insurgency."
most sweeping challenge to President Bush's faith-based war comes
from F. Gregory Cause III in Foreign Affairs. Writes
Cause: "There is no evidence that democracy reduces terror.
Indeed, a democratic Middle East would probably result in Islamist
governments unwilling to cooperate with Washington."
In Egypt, Saudi Arabia
and Syria, it is anti-American Islamists who seem positioned to
seize power should it fall from the hands of the authoritarian
rulers the National Endowment for Democracy and its neoconservative
allies seek to destabilize and dump over.
If Cause is right
and Bush wrong, the fruits of our bloody war for democracy in
Iraq could mean a Middle East more hostile to American values
and U.S. vital interests than the one Bush inherited.
That would be a strategic
disaster of historic dimension.
Not only does democracy
offer no guarantee against terror, writes Cause, democracies are
the most frequent targets of terror. Not one incident of terror
was reported in China between 2000 and 2003, but democratic India
suffered 203. Israel, the most democratic nation in the Middle
East, endured scores of acts of terror from 2000 to 2005. Syria's
dictatorship experienced almost none. While Saddam's Iraq was
terror-free, democratic Iraq suffers daily attacks.
Researching 25 years
of suicide bombings, scholar Robert Pape found the leading cause
was not a lack of democracy, but the presence of troops from democratic
nations on lands terrorists believe by right belong to them.
The United States
was hit on 9-11 because we had an army on Saudi soil. Britain
and Spain were hit for sending troops to occupy Iraq. Russia was
hit at Beslan because she is perceived as occupying Chechnya.
Democracy is thus
no more a cure for terror than its absence is the cause. Osama
has no moral objection to dictatorships. He means to establish
one, a caliphate where mosque and state are joined, and sharia
law is imposed without recourse to referendum.
As with Hitler, Stalin,
Mao, Ho and Castro, so, too, with bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Such men seek absolute power and use revolutionary terror as the
means to establish their dictatorships.
By January, we shall
know whether Iraqi democracy is the antidote to terror Bush believes
it to be. If it is not, he and we will have to face the grim consequences
of his conversion to a utopian ideology in the name of which he
pursued a potentially calamitous three-year war.