Monday, September 23, 2002

We keep hearing over and over again that one reason for a military attack against Iraq it that it will help establish democracy in Iraq. But is military intervention the best way to achieve democracy?

The U.S. has intervened militarily (either directly or indirectly) in foreign nations 42 times since WWII. Have any of these interventions resulted in greater democracy in those nations? In some cases it actually resulted in a democracy being replaced by a military dictatorship (take Chile for example).

On the other hand, many nations have made the transition to democracy during the same time period without military intervention (South Africa, Serbia, all of Eastern Europe). Most of these transitions occurred through mainly non-violent, citizen movements. Why not work to create such a movement in Iraq? An article in Sojourners magazine makes this argument in more detail.

Because I am a peace activist I am sometimes accused of being “unrealistic” or an “idealist.” But I think that it is those who make the claim that military intervention improves the chance of democracy that are being “idealistic” and “unrealistic.” We only have to look to history to learn that.

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