View Full Version : Russia's experiment with Democracy and its relevance to Iraq

Rob Thornton
11-11-2006, 11:51 AM
For a myriad of reasons Iraq, a state with proven wealth and potential for wealth has a population that goes without basic necessities. Right now gasoline, propane and kerosene are hard to come by and up here in Mosul the prices have been inflated up to 600%. The AIF have capitalized on it and are using the issue to sew unrest for the battle for the population, but they are only taking advantage of a government's inability, to produce, distribute and enforce products from what should be its biggest natural resource. Many Iraqis as such point to the days under Saddam when "at least they had security and petroleum products" - their memories of secret police, mass murder, or concern that not all were as well taken care of as a select few is not important - its a matter of relativity. After all, what good is Freedom if you have no heat, power, or cooked food - you can't eat it.

I can't help but draw a comparison to Russia's failed experiment in liberal democracy. How harsh winters, lack of bread and exasperation with corruption eventually led to a desire to return to communism by many, and the setting of conditions for a strongman such as Putin to come to power. The power vacuum created when a totalitarian system collapses opens up endless opportunities for corruption. Any plan to assist failed or failing states needs to acknowledge that before it can assist that state with a recovery that benefits its people. Any decision to intervene must weigh against the possibility that said state will be worse off vs. the perceived benefit of intervention.

One thing I see here is that it is not enough to put resources forward into the hands of someone whose understanding of the world is based on 50 years of a despot for a role model. Our fiscal assistance cannot be based solely on altruistic intentions, it may be noble, but its foolish. Our strategic goals must be safeguarded by extensive oversight, or we will potentially reinforce failure and possible extend the conditions we were trying to prevent.

From a Inter-Agency, perspective this means everyone must work hand in glove to the same end-state. We should consider what we ask for from other states who share our interests and acknowledgment that we may have to bend our own objectives (not give up the imperatives which led us to consider intervention in the first place) in order to procure their assistance.

If we can't do this, then we may need to rethink our strategy. As we look into the future, how many other states will come unglued and require maintenance? How many will simply fail? How many of those will impact us enough that they necessitate and will benefit from our involvement? What is to be the standard for which we gauge a population's willingness to endure the hardships that come with transitioning from a bad regime to some form of democracy? 3, 5, 10 years? How about our own political will to persist even when the going gets rough?

06-28-2007, 07:09 AM
One has to also input the fatalism of the Orientals when deciding how many years it will take in transforiming a bad regime into some form of a democracy.

That Islamic regimes, Sultanates, Shiekdoms, Islamic military dictatorship, Islamic despots can survive will all the repressive rules may astound many a western observer. But, it does not surprise the Oriental observer, since fatalism is a part of the synergic cohabitation!


06-28-2007, 10:44 AM
Rob, your talk about Russia is right.

Putin specifically noted that the history of World War II and Russia’s history after 1991 are wrongly interpreted and must be rewritten. Today Stalin has again been rehabilitated as a leader who made mistakes, but still secured victory over Nazi Germany. The 1990s -- a decade when Russia was a freer state than at anytime before or since -- today is demonized. The pro-Kremlin youth movement Molodaya Gvardia has announced it will be organizing marches in Yekaterinburg and other cities in support of Putin and against the regime’s critics under the slogan, “No return to the 1990s” (RIA-Novosti, June 26).


If you follow Maslow's pyramid about human needs, then it's very hard to demand from people that before they have security they will demand democracy.


This point is very well expressed in Rand's "Beginner's guide to nation-building"


06-28-2007, 01:53 PM
"After all, what good is Freedom if you have no heat, power, or cooked food - you can't eat it."


COIN application:
solar cookers, cardboard/wood/metal boxes lined with tinfoil
hand out a few of them, demonstrate how they work
provide some tin foil, they can make/find the boxes
tell the people " we are working hard with your government to get you electricity to cook with but at least you can have hot meals with these until the electricity arrives - Allah gives the Sun, man makes electricity, be patient please" have female personnel demonstrate/distribute to the women. It will save the people time and money hustling up alternative cooking/heat sources

What have you got to lose? A few hundred rolls of tinfoil and a few hours spent directly with the people?