‘Democracy is nothing, but counting of heads. It cannot differentiate between good and bad people, as in this system the vote of a devout Muslim equals the vote of a frail Muslim,’ [Maulana Abdul Aziz, head of the Lal Masjid] said.”– from this article
Yet Bush and Cheney and Rice keep singing the praises of not one, not two, but three “elections” in Iraq. They apparently think that when, in January 2005, the Shi’a went out and voted as they were instructed to vote by those in the three main parties animated by Shi’a Islam — SCIRI, Da’wa, and the new force of Moqtata al-Sadr — voted in all their purple-thumbed majesty, voted as Shi’a Arabs for Shi’a Arabs and Shi’a Arab domination, they were “practicing democracy.” They apparently think that the Sunnis, on the other hand, who did not vote in that first election, but then begrudgingly took part in the later two, were less interested in “practicing democracy.”
The Sunnis were no more, and no less, for the “democracy” that the electoral process supposedly represented than were the Shi’a. It is just that knowing they would lose (if they had been more numerous than the Shi’a they would have participated more energetically) they had no desire to take part.
For both sides, Sunni and Shi’a, know that the true spirit that makes modern democracy work, the spirit of political compromise, is lacking in Islam — a belief-system that worships might (the “strong horse”) and encourages aggression, and views the universe in manichean terms: light and dark, manifested as Believer and Infidel, Victor and Vanquished. And that attitude naturally carries over — how could it not? — to the attitudes toward others, perhaps even other sects within Islam. The effects of that can and will be seen in Iraq.
Then there was that referendum on that much-ballyhooed newly-written Iraqi constitution. It was not, and those who composed it were not, at all reminiscent of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, though Condoleeza Rice found apparent parallels. It was written, after much delay, in a few weeks (see Ali Allawi’s just-published book about the Writing of the Constitution). There were a few local wise men, and a few foreign fools (notably Noah “After Jihad” Feldman, the kind of “expert” on Islam only Roy Mottahedeh and the Times Sunday Magazine editors could take seriously) but it hardly mattered. The Constitution will mean whatever those who inherit Iraq will want it to mean. The rule of law does not exist, if by law we mean manmade law. For the Iraqi Constitution itself makes clear that it is not supreme. In the United States, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, for nothing deemed “unconstitutional” by judges, appointed for life and not elected, can stand. But the Iraqi Constitution says that no law, nor any provisions of the Constitution itself, can stand if they contradict the “law of Islam” — that is, the Shari’a. What in our country would be thrown out if declared “unconstitutional,” in the New Iraq, can be thrown out if declared contrary to the Law of Islam — that is, contrary to the Shari’a.
The belief in the possibility, even the ease of transplanting “democracy” to Iraq ignores the nature of Islam, and how mere mortals, Believers, are not the sources of political legitimacy. The source of political legitimacy is Islam and only Islam. If the ruler is Muslim, he must be obeyed. Islam encourages submission — from mental submission to the submission of the Muslim subject to the Muslim ruler — because Islam is based on the idea of submission of men to Allah, to the expressed will of Allah to be found in the Qur’an, and further interpreted by the Sunna (consisting essentially of what is written down in the Hadith and the Sira).
Bush can’t admit or recognize this. Partly it is that the enormity of the error is so great, that at this point neither he, nor Cheney, nor their loyalists, can admit it. There should be an epuration of the so-called “conservative media” of such loyalists. They have done so much damage by sticking with and defending years beyond the time they could plausibly do so, an absurd policy that, far from weakening Islamic supremacism, has only weakened and distracted the Western world from concentrating its efforts on checking the main instruments of Jihad — the money weapon, Da’wa, and demographic conquest.
But those who recognize that the mistakes in Iraq were those both about Islam (the failure to identify Islam as the enemy needing to be divided and demoralized), and about Iraq (the failure to recognize in Iraq those fissures that could be exploited, by leaving Iraq once Saddam Hussein’s regime collapsed, both sectarian and ethnic), deserve a closer hearing.
The record of all the pundits and commentators can easily be found online. It is all there.
Who was right — and who was wrong? Look for yourself.