Columns / Discourse / January 22, 2020

Ending the false fight for democracy

Iranians deserve democracy. They deserve a government chosen by the people, for the people and of the people.

America has long boasted of itself as a guardian angel of democracy, long angling its foreign policy – at least nominally – around preserving, maintaining or instituting it around the world. While democracy is a system every human being deserves to live under, and it is definitely one worth fighting for, I believe that America has shown time and time again that it is not capable of fighting for democracy on behalf of another nation’s citizens.

America has dug itself into a hole in the Middle East – our choice is to continue a troop presence in the area and risk further destabilization or to withdraw and deal with the violence that will ensue when groups try to fill the power vacuum that will follow. The problem with the former solution is that America does not have an exit strategy. There is no way to stabilize the region enough to safely withdraw troops, because so much of the destabilization was caused by America in the first place.

There is probably a way in which America could stabilize Iraqi democracy and subdue the power of the Iranian dictatorship. It would require careful maneuvering and efforts that would span years, if not decades.

The assassination of Qasem Soleimani is the latest in a long line of incidents that proves that America is incapable of displaying the deftness necessary to achieve such a peaceful result. Not only has the assassination renewed unrest in the region, leaked reports from the Pentagon show that not even they were sure what the repurcussions of the assassination would be.

As long as the President and Congress can manipulate foreign policy situations to be politically expedient, there is zero chance of America solving the Middle Eastern crisis. Quite simply, America’s military powers were not constitutionally assigned with a permanent foreign deployment in mind. The President was assigned to be commander-in-chief to ensure a quick response in case of any imminent threats to America and so that military response would not get bogged down by bureaucracy. It is hard to see what threat Iran poses to America right now, other than that towards the soldiers we have deployed there.

It’s about time America started re-examining its distribution of military power. Long gone are the days in which a full mobilization of troops would take days, if not weeks. America now has the power to land troops anywhere in the world within a day’s notice, and such power is too great for one man to possess. It directly interferes with long-term foreign policy objectives and allows the military to be manipulated for political expediency.

I do not propose any one solution, though many potential ones exist. I simply ask that we stop taking for granted the fact that the leader of our military is also the one with a vested interest in winning an election every four years.


Tags:  Donald Trump Iran Iraq War Qassem Soleimani war

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