Among many confusing statements from Washington on foreign policy, including on Iraq, finally President Bush in his declaration of his administration's policy, “The National Security Strategy of the United States,” transmitted to Congress, has sent a clear message to the world.
He stated that “People everywhere want to say what they think; choose who will govern them; worship as they please; educate their children — male and female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their labor.”
Pursuing such a humanitarian strategy in the world does not require use of military force. The President finds Saddam Hussein an obstacle to these goals. But the U.S. can choose a less expensive, less risky, more legitimate and morally acceptable means to permanently replace dictators such as Saddam.
If the President desires to remove Saddam, so do the Iraqi people. Saddam is not a popular leader, nor is his rule legitimate. Saddam is not a democratically elected leader. Let him stand against a justifiable demand of his own people and the whole world.
The U.S. could wage a popular global political and humanitarian campaign against him, a campaign similar to the one against the former apartheid regime in South Africa.
Military action may further damage the U.S. image and credibility and also create rage and hatred among Arabs and Muslims throughout the region. They will look at America as an aggressor pleasing Israel.
Instead of using militaristic strategy, we should insist Saddam hold a free and fair election and allow the UN and international human rights organizations monitor the process. If refused, global pressures will mount against him; and then it will be easier and acceptable to remove him by force.
If he accepts, an elected and legitimate government will replace the current dictatorship in Iraq and the President Bush's goals are also met. Then negotiation with a democratically elected government on disarmament becomes a diplomatic instead of militaristic process.
Neither the UN nor our Western allies would oppose such a popular alternative. Nelson Mandela, the world's most respected statesman, for example, stated that the current war campaign against Iraq “is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America.”
The President needs to prove that is not the case. Demand for a fair and free election in Iraq will generate a global support and positive image for America. That is exactly what America needs out side of its borders. It also sets precedence for all developing countries that have failed having democracy.
Unlike a military action, the election strategy has no risk of balkanization of Iraq. Neighboring countries cannot take advantage of a possible chaos that may be ensued after a military attack. This strategy can also account for the concern of Turkey with regard to the Kurds on the south of its borders. This will send a clear message to all tyrants in the world while avoiding an explosive escalation by minimizing human suffering.
In recent decades, most of the wars have occurred in non-democratic countries. Democracy is supposed to reduce violence. Let's stick to democratic solutions based on democratic principles and values rather than waging another shortsighted, risky and imperial war. Imperial wars cannot work in the era of globalization and inter-national interdependence of nations.
Kazem Alamdari is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University in Los Angeles.Dr Alamdari received his PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has taught at several institutions, including University of Tehran, and University of California, Los Angeles. More information here .