Skip to main content

'Democracy' in Iraq

There's a lot to say about how American conservatives have been coming out of the woodwork to suggest that regime change in Iraq veeeeeeery slowly sparked the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere around the Middle East in recent weeks. (A variant on this theme is offered by NRO's Jay Nordlinger, who writes: "It seems that a democratic revolution is sweeping the Middle East — spurred, I am sure, by American and allied actions in Iraq.")

So it's worth taking note of today's New York Times story that gives us a picture of what "democracy" in Iraq actually looks like:

Iraqi security forces controlled directly by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki continue to hold and to torture detainees in secret jails despite his vows last year to end such practices, according to a statement from Human Rights Watch released Tuesday.

The statement renewed longstanding criticism of Mr. Maliki that he has violated the Constitution by having some security forces in charge of pursuing terrorists report directly to his office. About 280 detainees are being held at Camp Justice, a military base in northern Baghdad, with no access to lawyers or their families, according to the report. They are being held by brigades that are supposed to report to the Defense Ministry, it said.

After the disclosure of a secret prison last year, Mr. Maliki said the detainees would be transferred to the Ministry of Justice, under which they were expected to receive proper legal representation. But Human Rights Watch, citing internal government documents and interviews conducted in Iraq with government officials and detainees, said that this has not occurred. 

I'm going to go ahead and suggest that Egyptians aren't really all that inspired by a US-backed "democratic" (remember, Maliki didn't actually win the last election) government that tortures its enemies. That's what they're protesting against! I'm guessing the sparks of the recent waves of protests involve a complicated set of kindling that I don't fully understand, but I do know that Iraq War apologists will never stop trying to extract "victory" from a very bad war.



Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…