Those voters were not forced to vote. They voted despite genuine threats of attacks at polling stations. Democracy was not imposed upon them, it was claimed by them in defiance of deadly terrorists.
The only people on whom democracy is imposed are the murdering thugs who would prefer to rule by force.
My apologies to anyone who finds this question a bit stale. It’s on such a kindergarten level I was surprised to still be faced with it. There are much more complicated and challenging issues in both wars. And yet, this kindergarten concept of ‘imposing democracy’ turned up in the news very recently, out of the mouth of one famed for his mastery of rhetoric. In his Cairo speech President Obama said, explicitly in reference to Iraq, “let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed on one nation by any other.” Which is a red herring. Iraq’s system of government was approved in a referendum by 79% of voters on a 63% turnout, in a ballot supervised by the UN. It was the choice of the Iraqi nation.
There is reason to welcome Obama’s statement, however, because it’s not that long ago that his proposals on Iraq sounded an awful lot like a plan to, erm, impose a different system of government.
Related reading: Peter Baker on Obama and democracy, NYT June 8th, a sequel to his February 22nd piece on the same subject. He provides the curious spectacle of an administration anxious that the notion of democracy promotion will associate them with the Bush presidency. I don’t get it. Obama seems globally to be the most popular American president in history. Democracy is an idea millenia older than Bush, an idea that gives courage to millions. What is the White House worried about?
Democracy is central to Obama’s appeal. He should embrace it unambiguously. What I liked about The New Yorker’s inauguration cover by Drew Friedman was that it placed Obama’s election as part of the continuity of America’s unfinished revolution. Unfinished, because democracy means a never-ending revolution, the strongest political system yet known in this universe of constant change.