George W. Bush spoke of a democratic domino theory of sorts occurring throughout the Middle East once Saddam Hussein was toppled. Dictators throughout the rest of the region would fall spurred on by the American military example in Iraq.
This was supposed to be the added benefit of toppling the Al Qaeda sympathizing, WMD possessing Saddam Hussein. These were the grounds that the war was sold upon (rightly or wrongly). Unfortunately, we ended up trapped in a sectarian civil war with a questionably democratic government that may have only ended up only benefiting the hated government of Iran.
I’m not a Democrat who hates on George W. Bush. Many presidents from both parties have had these grand visions that have gone to tears when confronted with the reality of war. But the current Middle Eastern reality following the Arab Spring is coated in irony here.
Bush envisioned the democratic Middle East coming through American military might. The Arab Spring was largely driven through protests and demonstrations against dictators friendly to America. They largely succeeded when the national military stood down and or joined demonstrators. Many of these people claim to want better relations with the West based on mutual respect.
The Arab Spring is a confirmation of what I have come to accept about democracy. Democracy cannot be achieved through guns and bombs alone. Its’ the people of Iraq and Afghanistan that will ultimately decide the success or failure of democracy. No matter what efforts the United States puts forward.
Excepting Libya, the United States has largely been sidelined offering statements of support for democratic freedom. Although democratic governance has many advantages, its’ best for everyone if democratic movements are citizen driven from inside, rather than imposed from outside.