Easier said than done
Democracy and freedom in Iraq?
October 27, 2004
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether
the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy
name of liberty or democracy?
-- Mahatma Gandhi
In the post-9/11 world, it is quite obvious that
we face great uncertainty and confusion about the future direction of the
US, Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, war, and peace. The information
is upon us and so misinformation. Through an increasingly concentrated,
corporate owned and managed, channels of mass communication,
we are continuously bombarded with an avalanche of sophisticated
techniques that are aimed at furthering the political-economic
agendas of an elite--rulers of the global village.
Hence, we are often unable to distinguish between right and wrong,
truth and fact, or reality and fiction. My hope is that the following
milestones, compiled from various sources of news and information,
would shed some light on the state of affairs vis-à-vis
Iraq, war, freedom, and democracy:
On March 20, 2003, after months of threats and a long military
buildup, the United States pre-emptively and, despite wide-spread
global opposition, attacked the sovereign nation of Iraq. The attack
was based on the arguments brought forward by the US and British
administrations that Saddam Hussein possessed, or was in the process
of producing, Weapons of Mass Destruction.
On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush landed in flying gear
on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln -- which
was adorned with a giant banner reading "Mission Accomplished" --
and said, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
On July 22, 2004, the chairman of the independent 9/11 Commission
investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks said publicly
that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented. The report
found no operational link between al-Qaeda and ousted Iraqi President
On November 6, 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said, "The
troops deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom have ... rescued a nation
and liberated a people." Perhaps the notorious human abuses
and atrocities at the Abu Gharaib prison and Afghanistan illustrated
On December 7, 2003, a former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, said
that there was no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda and that it was
every US citizen`s duty to learn how Washington waged war based
on false intelligence and misinformation.
On January 26, 2004, Human Rights Watch rejected the claim by
the US and UK that they had launched the Iraq war on the basis
of a humanitarian intervention.
On September 8, 2004, the mass media reported that the number
of U.S. troops killed in Iraq surpassed 1000, while Iraq Body Count,
a private group that bases its figures in part on reports by 40
media outlets, estimated the number of civilian deaths since the
war on Iraq began between 11,793 and 13,802.
On September 18, 2004, a draft of the Iraq Survey Group`s final
report concluded that there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons
program in Iraq.
On September 21, 2004, at the annual meeting of the General Assembly,
US President George W. Bush defended his decision to go to war
in Iraq on the basis of Saddam Hussein`s refusal fully to comply
with Security Council resolutions and the need to defend freedom
On September 28, 2004, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted
that there was no evidence of chemical and biological weapons in
Iraq, but maintained that "the world is a better place with
Saddam in prison not in power."
During his campaign for reelections, President George W. Bush
repeatedly invoked the grim memories of 9/11 and has said that "freedom
is on the march" in Iraq and that the US and the world are
now safer than before 9/11.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan,
has repeatedly said that the American-led invasion of Iraq was
illegal, that we have created a more dangerous world, and that
we are less safe than before 9/11.
Quite naturally, people throughout the world prefer freedom to
oppression, prosperity to poverty, sanitation to filth, health
to sickness, employment to unemployment, and justice to injustice.
And contrary to the ongoing political rhetoric which has been used
to sugarcoat the miserable and chaotic conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan,
democracy is not a product that can be imported or exported like
a bar of soap or an automobile. It has to be cultivated and grow
from within through careful planning, continuous nurturing, and
In other words, a free and democratic system requires a particular
environment, mind-set, culture, and economic-social-political system
that do not exist in Afghanistan, Iraq -- an unfortunately -- in
most of the developing nations. Democracy, according to Abraham
Lincoln, is a government "of the people, by the people, for
Can we claim that our nation`s domestic and international conduct
have been based on the ideals of the Constitution on which this
great nation was founded? Can we claim that we have captured the
essence of freedom and democracy at home? George Bernard Shaw,
once said, "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be
governed no better than we deserve." Ah, democracy -- it`s
easier said than done.
As we approach the presidential elections, it is quite evident
that the war on Iraq has not been about "human rights," "freedom," and "democracy," but
about access to oil resources, exertion of regional and global
control, establishment of military bases, enhancement of the economic
interests of the transnational corporations, and expansion of the
imperial power of America.
Dr. Yahya R. Kamalipour is professor of mass and international
communication and head of the Department of Communication at Purdue
Hammond, Indiana. His most recent book War,
Media, and Propaganda has been just released by Rowman & Littlefield.