On Democratization and Its Globalization

April 24, 2009

[First published December 6, 2005] You may remember my blog on “Does Incomplete Democratization Risk War?”. I evaluated the book by Jack Snyder and Edward Mansfield on Electing To Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go To War, and concluded that their quantitative results about the war likeness of nations in transition to full democracy do not prove (show, establish, indicate) that they are more likely to make war than other nations. I warned, however, that their results are being misapplied to Iraq.

Well, here is a review of the book by John M. Owen IV that does so. To give you some priceless quotes:

According to the academics, Bush’s chief transgressions have had to do with foreign policy, especially the Iraq war — a mess that could have been avoided if only the president and his advisers had paid more attention to those who devote their lives to studying international relations. . . . [RJR: I am a former academic who has spent his life studying international relations, and I support Bush’s foreign policy and Iraq War]

[On] Iraq, and in particular the notion that the United States can turn it into a democracy at an acceptable cost. In effect, Mansfield and Snyder have raised the estimate of these costs by pointing out one other reason this effort may fail — a reason that few seem to have thought of. . . . . What if, following the departure of U.S. troops, Iraq holds together but as an incomplete democratizer, with broad suffrage but anemic state institutions? Such an Iraq might well treat its own citizens better than the Baathist regime did. Its treatment of its neighbors, however, might be just as bad. . . .

If Mansfield and Snyder are correct about the bellicose tendencies of young, incompletely democratized states, the stakes of Iraq’s transition are higher than most have supposed. They are high enough, in fact, that those who called so loudly in the 1990s for an end to UN sanctions because Iraqis were dying but who are silent about the Iraqis who are dying now ought to reconsider their proud aloofness from the war. An aggressive Iraq, prone to attack Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Israel, is in no one’s interest. The odds may be long that Iraq will ever turn into a mature democracy of the sort envisaged by the Bush administration.

Note that Owen does not even let a wisp of doubt cross his mind that Mansfield and Snyder are wrong.

Larry Diamond, editor of the Journal Democracy has a very good article on “Universal Democrary? appearing in Policy Review Online. He says:

[Re Iraq] This is the most ambitious effort to foster deliberate political change since European colonial rule drew to a close in the early post-World War II era. Can it succeed? Since Iraq lacks virtually all of the classic favorable conditions, to ask whether it can soon become a democracy is to ask, really, whether any country can become a democracy. Which is to ask as well, can every country become a democracy?
[note that Iraq is not a fully functioning democracy, and under a constitution that has been approved by the Iraqi people]

My answer here is a cautiously optimistic one. The current moment is in many respects without historical precedent. Much is made of the unparalleled gap between the military and economic power of the United States and that of any conceivable combination of competitors or adversaries. But no less unique are these additional facts:

• This breathtaking preponderance of power is held by a liberal democracy.

• The next most powerful global actor is a loose union of countries that are also all liberal democracies.

• The majority of states in the world are already democracies of one sort or another.

• There is no model of governance with any broad normative appeal or legitimacy in the world other than democracy.

• There is growing international legal and moral momentum toward the recognition of democracy as a basic human right of all peoples.

• States and international organizations are intruding on sovereignty in ever more numerous and audacious ways in order to promote democracy and freedom.

He concludes:

The fully global triumph of democracy is far from inevitable, yet it has never been more attainable. If we manage to sustain the process of global economic integration and growth while making freedom at least an important priority in our diplomacy, aid, and other international engagements, democracy will continue to expand in the world. History has proven that it is the best form of government. Gradually, more countries will become democratic while fewer revert to dictatorship. If we retain our power, reshape our strategy, and sustain our commitment, eventually — not in the next decade, but certainly by mid-century — every country in the world can be democratic.

Why Are We fighting In Iraq?

January 29, 2009

[First published November 2, 2005] The foreign policy of the United States, the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq is predicated on the democratic peace. President bush has expressed this explicitly in describing his Forward Strategy of Freedom. Secretary Rumsfeld has mentioned it, and Secretary Rice has accepted it as background to her speeches on democracy. Because of the democratic peace, even President Clinton made promoting democracy one of the pillars of his foreign policy.

The democratic peace is now the best empirically established theory and most widely held among students of international relations. The theory, which goes back to the Philosopher Immanuel Kant in his Perpetual Peace (1795), is that:

The republican constitution . . . gives a favorable prospect for the desired consequence, i.e., perpetual peace. The reason is this: if the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared (and in this constitution it cannot but be the case), nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war. . . . But, on the other hand, in a constitution which is not republican, and under which the subjects are not citizens, a declaration of war is the easiest thing in the world to decide upon, because war does not require of the ruler, who is the proprietor and not a member of the state, the least sacrifice of the pleasures of his table, the chase, his country houses, his court functions, and the like. He may, therefore, resolve on war as on a pleasure party for the most trivial reasons, and with perfect indifference leave the justification which decency requires to the diplomatic corps who are ever ready to provide it.

Indeed, we now know from research done over the last three decades that this is true. The table below shows that since 1816, there have been no wars between democracies, although 371 bilateral wars when one or both sides were nondemocracies.

A second table below shows that there have been only three cases of violence ending in deaths between democracies over the 190 years since 1816. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first, and 1 to 25 in the second case of violence). In 1981 Peru was only marginally democratic, as was Ecuador, but less so. This was also true of Peru and Ecuador in 1984. The only other case of violence over these near two centuries was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed. Only three cases, and none since 1984 despite there being 117 democracies today.

There is much more to the democratic peace then the avoidance of war or international violence. Democracies have been involved in many wars, some they launched themselves (Afghanistan and Iraq being the most recent example). However, by an order of magnitude or more, democracies fight the least severe wars in killed compared to authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

Moreover, in general, democratic nations are the most internally peaceful — they have the least violence in number killed in rebellions, civil wars, civil unrest, anti-government riots, violent strikes, and coups.

Also, and perhaps most important, modern democracies seldom murder their own citizens. Democide (genocide and mass murder) is an evil of militarism (as in Burma), monarchism (Russia’s Peter the Great), theocratism (Iran), fascism (Hitler), and communism. Over the whole 20th Century during which governments murdered about 174,000,000 people, only 149,000 deaths were due to barely democratic regimes — nearly 100,000 to the far left Spanish Republican government during its 1936-39 civil war, 10,000 to Peru’s (1980-87) fight with communist guerrillas, 25,000 to India, 4,000 to Colombia, 2,000 to the U.S.A. (largely because of lynching in the early years of the century), and lesser numbers to a smattering of democracies. Among these democracies committing democide, none were liberal democracies at the time (when American domestic democide occurred women could not vote and minorities were systematically and legally segregated, harassed, and denied the vote in many states), and one might argue that some were not democracies at all. No democratically free people, liberal democracies of which there are about 88 today, have murdered their own.

How do we understand this nonviolence, peaceful nature of democracy? Kant had part of the answer. Democratic people usually oppose war. But not always. There are two other factors. One is that with democratic institutions comes a democratic culture of negotiation, compromise, and tolerance. And two, there is a civil society of independent and interlocking institutions and groups –churches, businesses, schools, and social, political, and recreation groups — that not only stitch and bond democratic society together, but also cross pressure interests so that the stakes in a conflict are never too high, and the conflicts themselves are isolated. Such a democratic culture and society also encompasses democratic nations, enfolding them in a dynamic democratic field of cross national governmental and nongovernmental organizations, multinational businesses, trade, cultural and educational exchanges, which are similarly bond the nations together and cross pressure interest that might favor violence. Moreover, the basic norm of negotiating and tolerating differences is shared among democracies, which is one reason democracies cannot well negotiate with dictatorship, to whom it is only war by other means.

So, why are we fighting in Iraq and fostering democratic freedom there and elsewhere? The answer is to promote an end to war, and democide, and to minimize internal political violence. In other words, it is to foster global human security. Surely, this is worth fighting for.

What? Saddam Was Going To Do That?

January 11, 2009

[First published February 27, 2006] Former Iraqi Air Force General Georges Sada has written a book, Saddam’s Secrets: How An Iraqi General Defied And Survived Saddam Hussein, with Jim Nelson Black, and which includes information about various Saddam military plans largely unknown to the public. Now, Georges (Iraqis go by their first names) graduated from the Iraq Air Academy in 1959, was trained in the Soviet Union and U.S., and by Britain, to fly the most advanced fighters, and became a first rate pilot well recognized for his skills.

As he rose in rank, he gained the confidence of Saddam by telling the truth, even though it was dangerous to do so. He was retired before the Iraq war and became a consultant to American forces after Saddam’s defeat. He has also been a spokesman for the newly elected prime minister of Iraq. An Assyrian Christian, he is now the president of the National Presbyterian Church in Baghdad and chairman of the Assembly of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches.

See the reviews here, here, and here.

There is always the question of how much is true in the biographies or memoirs of those who were high up in defeated, tyrannical regimes. In Georges’ case, much of what he says about Saddam is consistent with information from other sources, such as Saddam being a small time punk who rose in the Baath party through assassination and murder, and who once in power, systematically purged the party through mass murder, used poison gas against his Kurds, launched a war against Iran, invaded and raped Kuwait, slaughtered the southern Shia after the loss of the Gulf War, and so on.

What troubles me, however, is not the matter of Georges’ truthfulness, but his morality. Through all Saddam’s horrors, Georges remained, as he says, a “loyal patriot.” That is, he did not resign, or find a reasonable excuse to leave Saddam’s military, and he was a willing participant in a military that was carrying out all Saddam’s horrors that he writes about. Moreover, when his family was outside the country and he was sent to Britain, in spite of his awareness of Saddam’s plans on Israel below, he did not defect, and he never became a spy for the U.S. or Britain (that I know of). But, he did save the lives of all those airmen shot down over Iraq. When one of Saddam’s despicable sons demanded they all be killed, Georges refused even at the risk of his own life, and for this he spent some time under arrest thinking he would soon die.

Aside from what I mentioned above, which is well known, I also found the following important:

In 1990, Saddam ordered a poison gas and chemical attack on Israel with 98 of Iraq’s best fighters. No warning would be given, nor would permission be requested to use Syrian and Jordanian airspace. He could not be dissuaded from this even when Georges argued that all 98 would be shot down before reaching Israel. Saddam was willing to gamble that at least 10 aircraft would be able to drop their bombs. He also ordered a similar attack on the capital of Saudi Arabia. The launching of the Gulf War by the United States caused him to cancel these plans.

As to what the U.S. would do if Israel were so attacked, “everyone” thought the U.S. would rattle its papers and do nothing. This estimate was based on Clinton’s weak response to attacks on American ships, bases, and citizens. Saddam believe that the Americans were afraid to fight.

The invasion of Kuwait was predicated on the belief that American Ambassador April Glaspie had given Saddam a free hand regarding Kuwait, or to do whatever else he planned. So, after Saddam invaded Kuwait, they thought the American military buildup in Saudi Arabia and threats were for show.

With the exception of Georges, so he says, all the generals and ministers surrounding Saddam were afraid to tell him the truth, and lied to him continually.

The whole military and civilian establishment was corrupt and incompetent, based on nepotism, favoritism, bribery, and fear.

Much internationally and by human rights groups was made of an American attack on civilian air raid shelters during the Gulf War, but it was unknown that contrary to the Geneva Convention, Saddam had built command bunkers beneath these civilian shelters.

If Saddam were to be defeated, he wanted the whole country to be destroyed with him.

During the Iraq-Iran war he wanted to make a statement about Iranian subversion among the Iraqi Shia, so he ordered a heavy bomber to be loaded with nine-tons of bombs, and that they be dropped on the University of Tehran when the classes were in session. The bomber actually took off and headed for its target, but ran into mechanical difficulties and crashed.

Iraqi battle dead during the Gulf War totaled about 100,000, with about 200,000 seriously injured. These soldiers were Saddam’s throwaway pawns, as much victims as those he murdered outright.
In its relations with Iraq, the UN was thoroughly corrupt.

When UN sanctions were imposed on Iraq, Saddam easily manipulated them through kickbacks and bribes, while the Iraqi people suffered greatly.

Doubtlessly, Saddam was trying to develop nuclear weapons. He spent tens of millions of dollars buying the services of scientists and technologists and acquiring the needed equipment.

Saddam arranged to pay $100 million, and made a $5 million down payment, for Chinese scientists to make nukes for him, but apparently the deal was too close to the invasion for him to receive any useful warheads in return.

There can be no doubt that Saddam had WMD (and Georges is amazed there is any question about this). He not only used them on his own people, but also planned to use them against Israel and Saudi Arabia. WMDs were his “obsession.” When it looked like Iraq would be invaded, Saddam had his scientists commit to memory the designs of their weapons before destroying this paper trail.

Trucks and converted civilian aircraft transferred WMDs in large amounts to Syria before the Iraq invasion.

What are the lessons of this book:

America and other democracies must pay close attention to their credibility for responding to provocation and attacks.

The Department of State must be clear about warning dictators about where we draw the line. Replace the diplomatic, “We will take seriously . . . ,” with, “We’ll stomp your ass if you . . . .” When dealing with these tyrants, any ambiguity is a sin.

Just in getting rid of Saddam, and preventing a like replacement, was a momentous victory for the Iraqi people, for American national security, for that of other democracies, and in the War on Terror.

American national security and that of other democracies, such as Israel, must not be dependent on the absolute power and whims of such bloody tyrants as Saddam. In this age of transferable nuclear knowledge and equipment, easily producible poison gas and chemical weapons, missiles, passenger planes that may be hijacked, cargo ships that may be made into launching pads, possible suitcase sized nukes, transportable closed containers galore, and thousands of religious fanatics willing to commit suicide for a cause, all democratic leaders should have their foreheads tattooed with the warning:


I hasten to add that I am not advocating we make war on them, unless they are an immediate threat, as Saddam and the Taliban (by their support of terrorism against the U.S.) were, or are murdering their people wholesale. Otherwise, I argue we should strongly support internal or expatriate democratic forces, and use the thousand and one ways available to us to peacefully bring down a tyrannical regime.

Democratization—The Implicit If-Then of the Iraq War

December 29, 2008

[First published April 17, 2006] It is very important to understand why we went to war in Iraq. The DECLARED purpose was to end the threat of Saddam Hussein’s WMD and his support for terrorism. In no STATED way was it to democratize the country or make a regime change in favor of freedom. But, what confuses this is the implicit if-then in this: if we won the war and occupied the country, then we would democratize it.

The confusion is shown in Dean Esmay’s “quibble” over my claim about the explicit purpose. He says:

A quibble: it was the stated policy of the United States government, as expressed by both houses of Congress and the President, that Saddam’s fascist regime in Iraq needed to be replaced by a democratic one. It was so since the late 1990s, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338). It was the operating policy of the United States ever since.

I would also note that the Congress re-iterated all of this when it issued the war declaration, also known as the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. The President himself mentioned, in more than one speech before the liberation operation began, that establishing democracy there was a goal. He did so most famously at his Cincinnati address in October 7 2002, shortly before the Congress issued its war declaration against Saddam. He said, just before Congress passed that war declaration, that, “Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources, and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq’s people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.”

The White House also publicly met many times with pro-democracy and pro-human rights advocates (including women’s rights advocates) from Iraq before the decision to take out Saddam’s fascist regime became official, and made a point of making sure the press knew they were doing that.

The historic record is clear: the American People were given over a dozen reasons for toppling Saddam’s monstrous fascist regime, and not just one. Historical revisionists have tried to obscure the record and say we only invaded due to “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” but this has always has been a lie. It is fair to say that the administration never said “let’s go establish a democracy in the Middle East to help reform that entire part of the world,” but an awful lot of learned public commentators (including a number of writers in the blogosphere such as myself, Glenn Reynolds, Steven Den Beste, and a number of other well known “neocon” commentators like Charles Krauthammer) all noted the fact that the Arab-Muslim world was mired in horrific oppression and that the only smart way to fight terrorism in the long run was to find ways to reform those regimes, either through diplomacy, economic pressures, or outright war, and that Saddam’s Iraq was a big fat juicy target in that regard.

It’s strange for some of us who were there and part of those debates to hear that those arguments were never part of the equation and were never put before the American people. Yes they were. They were not the ONLY reasons given, but they were always there.

For a lot of us, the liberation of Iraq from Saddam was the biggest and most dangerous gamble in the Global War On Terror, rather akin to the engagement of Japanese forces in the Philippines in the early 1940s. We have believed all along, and continue to believe, that fascist and theocratic thug-regimes such as those found in the old Iraq, the old Afghanistan, and today’s Syria, Libya, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, are the ultimate source for international terrorism. Because thugs who hold power, regardless of their stated ideology, always believe first and foremost in maintaining their own power, and doing whatever it takes to keep that power. Including, frequently, harboring, arming, and training international terrorists.

This was always a part of the package we were sold before we went into Iraq. And it still is, because as the administration has made clear many times since Saddam was toppled, if we were to abandon Iraq and its infant democracy now, those who would murder this young democracy in its crib would undoubtedly rise up to become the enemies of the free world again.

Let’s not forget history: liberating Iraq from fascist oppression and attempting to install a true democracy there was always the stated goal of the United States and most of its allies.

There is much in this with which I agree, including the temper of the “quibble.” But, we’ve got to get this straight. True, there were many calling for democracy in Iraq before the war, including Dean and I. True, Congress also called for democracy in Iraq, but in what Congress voted for and what Bush declared to be the purpose WAS NOT war on Saddam to free his people. It was to eliminate HIM. With his aid to terrorism, use of poison gas on his own people, reported stores of WMD, and possible ongoing development of nukes, he was perceived as the dangerous enemy.

Dean is a keen observer as are those he mentions in support of his claim. So, what is going on here? It is the usual confusing Washington if-then clause. For example, read the “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq “ to see that after all the “whereas'” (none of which mention democracy, freedom, or regime change) Congress states:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: This joint resolution may be cited as the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq”.


The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to —
(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and
(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

Congress does not mention democracy, freedom, or regime change in any “whereas,” nor did the Security Council include such operative words in any of the relevant Security Council Resolutions. So, the resolution provides no justification for democratization or indication that this is even a background reason for war.

As to President Bush’s famous speech on the Iraqi threat that Dean mentions, it lays out the threat to the peace of the Iraqi regime (a synonym for Saddam) in, “Its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror.” Bush goes on to say that, “Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm…. our urgent concern [is] about Saddam Hussein’s links to international terrorist groups.” Bush then details the WMD and terrorist threat, and makes his military threat explicit: “Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud…. The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself — or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.”

But, then note what Iraq must do to avoid war: “In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown. By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict.”

Among these “must do’s,” there is no mention of regime change.

So much for the operational aspect of the speech. Now for the confusing part. After all the above, Bush says, “The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power….Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq’s people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors…. I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America’s military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands.” (Bold added)

Nowhere in the speech is democracy or regime change mentioned, nor is the idea of a democratic peace.

So, there you have it. Bush’s declaratory purpose for war and Congresses approval was to get rid of Saddam pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions. And as I mentioned, these resolutions say nothing about regime change.

Further evidence for this declaratory purpose is the last minute option Saddam was given by Bush to avoid war, which was to leave Iraq and accept the asylum offered by Bahrain or Russia. The regime offered oil and inspection deals to avoid the invasion, but these were rejected by Bush. In addition to Saddam leaving the country, Bush demanded the surrender of Iraqi troops and all WMD.
Even during this frantic period when the Iraq regime was making huge offers to avoid war, Bush still did not demand regime change or democratization. During this instant before war, as far as anyone knew, if a military coup had eliminated Saddam, his sons, and the rest of his gang, and offered unlimited UN and American inspection for WMD, while maintaining a military dictatorship, there would have been no war.

As for Germany, Italy, and Japan in World War II, democratization was an if-then proposition, often discussed, but not part of the official war demands. If we won the war and occupied these countries, then we would try democratize them. That was clear. But this was not the stated purpose of the war. Unconditional surrender was. Similarly, with Saddam Hussein, the declared purpose of the war was to end the threat of his WMD and his support for terrorism, and if we occupied the country, then as with our enemies of WWII, we would democratize it.

A Realist (Scowcroft) Doesn’t Get It

December 26, 2008

[This Fictional discussion between Scowcroft, the realist, and me, the so-called idealist, is as relevant today as it was when first published in October 24, 2005. Now, in later 2008, there have been two democratic elections in Iraw, and a fair and open democratic vote for the constitution that now governs Iraq and under which there is a functioning democratic government. The anti American occupationo and Iraq government terrorism and rebellion has been largely defeated. It is fair, therefore, to say that Scowcroft was wrong.]

click me^–>

Brent Scowcroft, military assistant to President Nixon, and National Security Advisor to Presidents Ford and H.W. Bush, continues his attack on the bush foreign policy and Iraq War in an interview by Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker (not available without subscription). In The Washington Note, Steven C. Clemons provides excerpts (here) from the interview:

A principal reason that the Bush Administration gave no thought to unseating Saddam was that Brent Scowcroft gave no thought to it. An American occupation of Iraq would be politically and militarily untenable, Scowcroft told Bush. And though the President had employed the rhetoric of moral necessity to make the case for war, Scowcroft said, he would not let his feelings about good and evil dictate the advice he gave the President.

It would have been no problem for America’s military to reach Baghdad, he said. The problems would have arisen when the Army entered the Iraqi capital. “At the minimum, we’d be an occupier in a hostile land,” he said. “Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and, once we were there, how would we get out? What would be the rationale for leaving? I don’t like the term ‘exit strategy’ — but what do you do with Iraq once you own it?”

. . . . “This is exactly where we are now,” he said of Iraq, with no apparent satisfaction. “We own it. And we can’t let go. We’re getting sniped at. Now, will we win? I think there’s a fair chance we’ll win. But look at the cost.”

RJR: Yes, lets look at the cost. Nearly 2,000 American soldiers killed, not even the near 3,000 American civilians murdered in the 9/11 attacks by terrorists; and for Iraqi civilians it is a death toll of 26,690 to 30,051 (see here). Compare this to the million of his own people that Saddam Hussein probably murdered, the additional million killed in the war Saddam launched against Iran, and the probable 30,000 civilian and military killed in the Gulf War Saddam initiated with the invasion of Kuwait.

For an incredibly small cost, we have won a victory of vital importance to American security in our War on Terrorism (Saddam supported and encouraged terrorism), we have saved the Iraqi people from a murderous repressive dictator, we have removed the chains that bound them, we have helped put them on the road to democracy, and we have encouraged democracy elsewhere in the Middle East.

The first Gulf War was a success, Scowcroft said, because the President knew better than to set unachievable goals. “I’m not a pacifist,” he said. “I believe in the use of force. But there has to be a good reason for using force. And you have to know when to stop using force.” Scowcroft does not believe that the promotion of American-style democracy abroad is a sufficiently good reason to use force.

RJR: The Iraqi Constitution is hardly modeled on American-style democracy. True, we are promoting democracy, but this is another way of saying that we are freeing people from the chains that bind them so that they can enjoy the freedom that is rightfully theirs.

“I thought we ought to make it our duty to help make the world friendlier for the growth of liberal regimes,” he said. “You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not how the neocons do it.”

RJR: Of course, this is a way to encourage democracy, unless you have an absolute and murderous dictator who, as all the intelligence agencies around the world said, was developing WMD, and in any case was supporting the terrorist enemies of the United States. Then, once you remove his threat, democracy follows. What should we have done otherwise? Take him down, and then leave the poor Iraqis to another dictator?

The neoconservatives — the Republicans who argued most fervently for the second Gulf war — believe in the export of democracy, by violence if that is required, Scowcroft said. “How do the neocons bring democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you evangelize.” And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. “This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism,” he said.

RJR: Nonsense. The Iraqi War was not launched to spread democracy, but to deal with vital threat Saddam posed. Helping the Iraqi’s to establish democracy then came after — it was an answer to the question as to what we do with military victory, and Bush gave the same answer we applied to defeated Italy, Japan, and Germany after WWII.

Scowcroft on Iraq & Israel

In August of 2002, seven months before George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, Scowcroft upset the White House with an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. The headline read, “DON’T ATTACK SADDAM.” Scowcroft would have preferred something more nuanced, he told me, but the words accurately reflected his message.

RJR: More nuanced like what? Multilateral discussion with European no-sayers? More debate in the hopeless Security Council? Nuanced, indeed. How about unrealistic?

In the article, he argued that an invasion of Iraq would deflect American attention from the war on terrorism, and that it would do nothing to solve the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, which he has long believed is the primary source of unhappiness in the Middle East. Unlike the current Bush Administration, which is unambiguously pro-Israel, Scowcroft, James Baker, and others associated with the elder George Bush believe that Israel’s settlement policies arouse Arab anger, and that American foreign policy should reflect the fact that there are far more Arabs than Israelis in the world.

RJR: Rather than deflect attention from the War on Terrorism, the invasion was at the heart of this war, and has defeated a chief state supporter, put the terrorists on the defensive, and encouraged a democratic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The obsession of the region . . . is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Scowcroft wrote in the Journal. “If we were seen to be turning our back on that bitter conflict — which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve — in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us.” Scowcroft went on to say that the United States was capable of defeating Saddam’s military. “But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive — with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy — and could as well be bloody. In fact, Saddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses.”

RJR: How wrong his predictions were is obvious, and yet he is unyielding in his criticism.

Scowcroft’s Frustration Communicating with Bush 43

Like nearly everyone else in Washington, Scowcroft believed that Saddam maintained stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, but he wrote that a strong inspections program would have kept him at bay. “There may have come a time when we would have needed to take Saddam out,” he told me. “But he wasn’t really a threat. His Army was weak, and the country hadn’t recovered from sanctions.” Scowcroft’s colleagues told me that he would have preferred to deliver his analysis privately to the White House. But Scowcroft, the apotheosis of a Washington insider, was by then definitively on the outside, and there was no one in the White House who would listen to him. On the face of it, this is remarkable: Scowcroft’s best friend’s son is the President; his friend Dick Cheney is the Vice-President; Condoleezza Rice, who was the national-security adviser, and is now the Secretary of State, was once a Scowcroft protege; and the current national-security adviser, Stephen Hadley, is another protege and a former principal at the Scowcroft Group. . . .

RJR: Why the Whitehouse doesn’t listen to him is obvious from the above. Also, note that he believed that Saddam had WMD, and yet he does not see the national interest in taking him out.

. . . . Scowcroft’s Deteriorating Relationship with Condoleeza Rice

The disintegrating relationship between Scowcroft and Condoleezza Rice has not escaped the notice of their colleagues from the first Bush Administration. She was a political-science professor at Stanford when, in 1989, Scowcroft hired her to serve as a Soviet expert on the National Security Council.

Scowcroft found her bright — “brighter than I was” — and personable, and he brought her all the way inside, to the Bush family circle. When Scowcroft published his Wall Street Journal article, Rice telephoned him, according to several people with knowledge of the call. “She said, ‘How could you do this to us?'” a Scowcroft friend recalled. “What bothered Brent more than Condi yelling at him was the fact that here she is, the national-security adviser, and she’s not interested in hearing what a former national-security adviser had to say.”

RJR: Typical of these people who have been on the inside. What bothers Scowcroft is not that he wasn’t listened to, but that his advice was not taken.

Scowcroft on Rice’s Foreign Policy Deficits & Israel Policy

. . . . They also argued about Iraq. “She says we’re going to democratize Iraq, and I said, ‘Condi, you’re not going to democratize Iraq,’ and she said, ‘You know, you’re just stuck in the old days,’ and she comes back to this thing that we’ve tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth,” he said. Then a barely perceptible note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, “But we’ve had fifty years of peace.”

RJR: Peace? Rather war by other means — genocidal murder bombing, killing ambushes, and assassination.

Scowcroft’s Realism on the Middle East

Scowcroft is unmoved by the stirrings of democracy movements in the Middle East. He does not believe, for instance, that the signs of a democratic awakening in Lebanon are related to the Iraq war. He sees the recent evacuation of the Syrian Army from Lebanon not as a victory for self-government but as a foreshadowing of civil war. “I think it’s something we have to worry about — the sectarian emotions that were there when the Syrians went in aren’t gone.”

Scowcroft and those who share his views believe that the reality of life in Iraq at the moment is undermining the neoconservative agenda. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who served as Colin Powell’s chief policy planner during the first Bush Administration (and who was Scowcroft’s Middle East expert on the National Security Council during the first Gulf War) said that the days of armed idealism are over. “We’ve seen the ideological high-water mark,” he said. “I mean wars of choice, and unilateralism, and by that I mean an emphasis, almost to the point of exclusion of everything else, on regime change as opposed to diplomacy aimed at policy change.”

RJR: Enough. What is clear is that the Scowcroft is an unreformed real politics guy, while Bush bases his foreign policy upon the democratic peace. The gulf between Rice and Scowcroft developed when Rice grew to accept this policy (as well she should, being a professional student of international relations, a field that now accepts the democratic peace as axiomatic). Those who share Scowcroft’s view, which is a good part of the Washington establishment, see the tools of foreign policy as diplomacy, (jaw-jaw, smile-smile) multilateralism, alliances, foreign aid, trade, and the UN, all aimed at developing or maintaining stability in critical regions, like the Middle East, and a stable balance of interests and power. They see the idea of a democratic peace as Wilsonian idealism, utopianism, and as an excuse for a missionary like crusade for democracy.

These “realistic” analysts and experts do not realize that if by realistic one means consistent with history and facts, then it is the democratic peace that is most realistic. Policies based on stability, which when they were applied to the Middle East meant stable dictatorships, have consistently failed. The democratic peace has passed hard empirical tests, such as those below. The policy of realism has not.

Democratic Peace Chart