The Instigator
PatrickHenry
Con (against)
Tied
30 Points
The Contender
sethgecko13
Pro (for)
Tied
30 Points

Should the United States try to establish a stable democracy in Iraq?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,471 times Debate No: 276
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (20)

 

PatrickHenry

Con

At this time we are trying to help the Iraqi's set up a stable democratic government. I submit my opponent that this should not be so. Why?

1) I do not believe it is possible not from any fault of our own but because of who we are dealing with. Iraq is a muslim country and while it could be argued that the Koran itself doesn't oppose democracy the traditions and history of Islam do. So we are in effect asking these people to choose between our brand new form of government and their religion of sixteen centuries.

2)The reason we are over there to begin with is because we are at war with extremist. And just as in world war two you don't stop to rebuild a country until the war is won. We honestly can't afford to spend our resource helping these people when:
1. We know that terrorists are still trying to attack us
2. When Iran is trying to get nuclear weapons and is yelling about destroying
Israel and the west.
3) As the polls over in Iraq show that a MAJORITY of people in Iraq want us out then so we don't appear as hypocrites we must submit to the democratic rule and leave.
sethgecko13

Pro

I would submit that the central thesis of your argument is inaccurate. There is little evidence that we're trying to establish a democratic government in Iraq. These claims by government officials are markedly out of step with our actions on the ground in Iraq, as well as our overall policy toward Iraq (especially when one considers the historical context for our involvement). There are a variety of factors that discount the contention that we're trying to implement democracy in Iraq:

- The US government has closed down the free press in Iraq, shutting down media outlets that don't toe the official US line, going so far as to set up its own disinformation media and literally buying off staff for the other newsmedia in Iraq to "place" stories favorable to occupation.

- The US government has disarmed the Iraqi population in spite of fact that a well-armed citizenry is supposedly integral to a democratic state. A segment of second amendment proponents have lamented the silence of groups like the National Rifle Association on this.

- In spite of rampant violence, the US pressed forward with fundamentally undemocratic elections in Iraq. In the first round, conditions were such that voters did not know which candidates were on the ballot (making it impossible for them to vote in an informed manner) to protect the safety and security of the candidates themselves who were at high risk of being assassinated (and indeed, many of them were assassinated after the election by insurgents and sectarian groups).

- In spite of proclamations, the US government has planted and backed virtually all of candidates for Prime Minister (from Ahmed Chalabi to Iyad Allawi). This is part of a long-standing policy of the US to interfere with the government of Iraq, going back to its backing of Saddam Hussein in the 1970s up through the end of the 1980s.

- The US government has shown little regard for the rule of law in Iraq, a principle central to a democratic state. It has repeatedly ignored enforcing the law when it is inconvenient for the US (such as in applying it to civilian contractors) but also in applying it to the operations of the US government in Iraq. Even now, the US government refuses to abide by decisions made by the Iraqi government which is supposedly supposed to govern itself.

- Another aspect of is the dismal failure to rebuild the country's infrastructure. Rather than move in the most financially-sound, efficient and expedient manner to restore the existing utility infrastructure, we sought to replace it with US products. Ignoring that war profiteering, there has been zero oversight in how reconstruction monies are spent – the General Accountability Office has repeatedly blasted the Administration for how it has lost outright or misspent billions of dollars.

- Most egregiously, the US government has funded sectarian militias in the hopes that one side will exterminate the other – thus reducing conflict and establishing a one-sided authoritarian regime.

Ignoring this evidence, there's the practical fact that it would be a waste for the US to invest in an independent nation that controls huge oil reserves that could become a major competitor to US economic interests.

I'd like to respond to your sub-points individually, but unfortunately I'm limited by space – so perhaps I'll do that in the second round.
Debate Round No. 1
PatrickHenry

Con

First I would like point out that the topic doesn't ask if the United States is trying to establish a democracy. It makes the assumption that the United States is trying to establish a democracy.

Second I would like to point out that you seemed to have agreed with me.

Third I would like to clarify that when I said the Koran itself doesn't oppose democracy I understood that there is the matter of succession set out in the Koran. However that would have led to a more technical discussion of the Koran than I thought would do good.

Fourth I now like ask my opponent where in the constitution is the power to establish a foreign government granted to any of the branches of government? Because unless this power is present then we are merely establishing a democracy to the decimation of our own.

For the reasons above and those previously stated I oppose the resolution.
sethgecko13

Pro

sethgecko13 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
PatrickHenry

Con

I regret that my opponent could not respond to my arguments since that leaves me without anything new to counter. So I could just restate everything I already said but as I don't want to insult the intelligence of my audience nor insult them I will rest my case.
sethgecko13

Pro

Even if we posit that the US is trying to establish a democracy in Iraq, I have several fundamental disagreements with the points you've laid out (enumerated below). I agree with you in small part, but on the whole I disagree with both your premise and the details of your claim.

If you want to argue that we're actually democracy-building then I would respond by saying that we have an obligation to the Iraqi people that dates back nearly four decades; we've interfered in their government when it suited us and forced them to live under Saddam Hussein (who began his rise to power as a CIA asset, and who was backed by the US throughout the 80s). At the very least we owe them massive reparations for the damage we've done to them with our disastrous foreign policy.

Regardless of what the Qur'an literally says, it is subject to interpretation like any holy book. The Bible, too, issues various commands about whom Christians are to pledge allegiance and if taken literally – that would mean forfeiting citizenship in the United States and refusing to abide by our secular government. Most Christians (like most Muslims) do not interpret the whole of their holy texts literally – and they reconcile their beliefs with the practical reality of living in a representative republic.

Moreover – Muslims don't only read the Qur'an; the Bible is considered one of their holy texts as well (because Muslims and Christians, as well as Jews, worship the same god; the only difference is their disagreement over who the prophet/messiah is/was).

The power to establish a foreign government isn't specifically granted by the Constitution. That argument is moot, however, as many things are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. What is far more important is that participating in the establishment of a foreign government isn't expressly prohibited by the Constitution – so it's perfectly legal. If you're going to contend that we have no legitimate basis for involvement in nation-building, than our involvement in the United Nations would also be unconstitutional.

--------------------------------------------------
Response to Initial Sub-Points:

1) There is certainly no less about the Qur'an that is hostile to democracy than there is about the Bible. Millions of Muslims around the world live peacefully inside democracies. Conversely, there is a sizeable population (some 20%) fundamentalist Christians in the US opposed to pluralism our core democratic ideals in favor of a fundamentalist Christian state.

2) Most Iraqis are not extremists. Those people are not attacking us, yet they suffer from our indiscriminate and clumsy attempts to root out those who oppose our occupation. That said, however, the majority is finding common ground with the "extremist" views as the western world continues to show that it has no interest in molding Iraq into an independent state. The "extremists" we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are only extreme by our definition. For over a century, the West has sought to conquer and dominate the Middle East and in so doing, we have created these "extremists." It's no accident that the same terrorist forces we're facing now were once funded and backed by the US government as it jockeyed with the old Soviet Union for control of the region. While there is a surface appearance of a cultural/religious conflict – what underlies it is two opposing forces vying for control of a region rich with natural resources.

In the US we have a very short memory. We seem to have forgotten that Iran's hostility toward us is the result of decades of overthrowing Iranian governments and backing military coup attempts (like funding Saddam Hussein's Iran-Iraq war). We seem to have forgotten that we created the Taliban in Afghanistan when we backed what was to become the "Northern Alliance" that raped and pillaged its way across the country after we forced the Soviets out and left a power vacuum. We seem to have forgotten that we gave Hussein his chemical and biological weapons programs (as well as hundreds of millions of dollars to run them with) and that we repeatedly covered for him, blocking UN sanctions against him, as he used those weapons plans and despotically lorded over the Iraqi population.

3) Occupying Iraq has not reduced terrorism, rather it has resulted in a seventeen-fold increase in terrorism worldwide. It has made our reasons for Mideast involvement much clearer to many more residents of the Middle East – which is why our support there has dwindled to nonexistence.

4) Iran is not trying to acquire nuclear weapons (to the contrary – all of our intelligence agencies recently concluded that Iran stopped in 2003). Iran has long been a second-class citizen when it comes to nuclear power for their growing economy. The claims of war advocates are based on extrapolations that in a decade or so Iran could possibly convert nuclear fuel to weapons. Iran only wants nuclear weapons because of the long history of US intervention in Iran (and the current saber-rattling of the Bush Administration), and they're right to. They know that nuclear weapons level the playing field so that the US is forced to use indirect pressure to get what it wants out of governments unfriendly to our economic interests. To that end, it would almost be a good thing if Iran acquired nukes if it forced the US to stop using brute force to overthrow governments opposed to our economic aims.

To your final sub-point – you are correct. It is interesting to note that the majority of US citizens want us out of Iraq; and yet, none of the front-running presidential candidates in either party are for withdrawing troops. It's a emblematic of the control that wealthy elites have over our process that they're able to force such candidates to be the only options we may choose from.

It's enough to make one wonder if the US actually is a democratic state itself.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by AREA 9 years ago
AREA
Patrick Henry
Personally, I can hardly blame Iran for wanting atomic energy. Why use their own oil for energy when they can sell it for a bazillion, and continue to develop? And if they did get the bomb, it would just be a deterrent force. Must we prevent everyone from having a deterrent?

You think Iran is yelling about destroying Israel and the West? Perhaps you are referring to President Ahmedinejahd's wish to see Israel off the map? No mention of "the West", and for all we know, he may not have meant that ISrael should be destroyed, simply that as a state, it was an illegitimate construct (a common thought in that part of the world.)

But even if they were after the bomb, and wanted to use it for aggression, how would democracy next door help? And how can the US actively promote democracy in Iraq? Seems like the US is trying to do it militarily. If you want to debate on US policy in Iraq, I hope you will specify about how they will make democracy.
If you did mean to impose a democracy militarily, remember what initiated the nuclear weapons program in Saddam's Iraq in the first place: a military strike against their peaceful nuclear energy program. Not the reaction Israel had been hoping for, huh?

It might be easier to negotiate with Iran (you can exclude Ahmedinejahd if you want since he's just a figure head with no power over foreign affairs or military matters anyway). The offer has been on the table since the last government put it there in 2003. Ahmedinejahd even offered to debate vs Bush on this subject and others. Considering your membership to debate.org, I imagine you'd like to see that, so why all the fear of Iran?
Posted by TeaandScarves 9 years ago
TeaandScarves
Good to know. I'd like you to know sethgecko that I'm a big fan of yours. You have good views and you debate them well.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
TeaAndScarves -

I agree with you; our debt to Iraq doesn't necessarily have to take the form of democracy (I really only pursued that tack because PatrickHenry insisted on narrowly following the initial premise of his argument).

I'd be for massive monetary reparations.
Posted by sethgecko13 9 years ago
sethgecko13
MayorJesse -

The Shi'a/Sunni conflict is about as relevant as the Protestant/Catholic conflict. Such sectarian divisions are only an issue because of the desperate state of poverty and lack of security in the country. The worse the living conditions - the more likely the people are to find common ground with fundamentalists. Our blundering policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions in the sham elections. To make matters worse, we're now funding the militias of one sect over another.

But then again - who says Iraq has to remain one country? Iraq is a nation artificially created by the West anyhow.

When I talk about the US closing down the newsmedia in Iraq, I'm not talking about al-Jazeera - I'm talking about homegrown Iraqi newspapers like Al Mustaqilla and Al Hawza that have been shut down by the CPA. Vacuous, polarized terms like "pro-America" or "anti-America" are irrelevant. If what we're doing is right, we should not fear an open marketplace of ideas. Even ignoring that idealistic aim - it was terrible and stupid act that harmed our public image greatly.

I'm happy to talk about the $8.8 billion (the actual number that was sent over in duffel bags of cash was much higher - it's $8.8 bil. that can't be accounted for) that went missing in Iraq; it's emblematic of the fact that the Bush Administration has no interest in a democratic Iraq - only lining the pockets of its campaign contributors. In point of fact we have squandered a lot of money on Iraq, and we've done so poorly in one of the worst examples of crony capitalism and war profiteering in modern history. Very little of that money has actually made its way to improving the lives of Iraqis.

PS - I'm long past being a freshman, but thanks for leaping on the agist bandwagon and assuming I'm a Che-shirted dorm room inhabitant - you make me feel young again. By the way - "you're" is a contraction of the words "you" and "are". "Your" is possessive.
Posted by TeaandScarves 9 years ago
TeaandScarves
Thanks for bringing up this debate. It's an obviously important topic and it's interesting to see the sides because two people may agree but for very different reasons or disagree for similar reasons. For example, setchgecko said that we owe it to the Iraqi people to give them democracy after all we have done. Yes, I would agree we owe something to them but to me that something is not democracy since they do not support it. Ultimately I gave my vote to PatrickHenry because while I agree with sethgecko in most of his points, it was not really debated until the 3rd round and at that point while your view has proven enlightening, it could not really be considered debated.
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
wait, how does sethgecko13 affirm by saying that???
Posted by MayorJesse 9 years ago
MayorJesse
wow sethgecko13, your a winner. First your arguing in agreement Patrtick Henry, who made some bad arguments namely: "that the Koran itself doesn't oppose democracy," if Patrick Hentry understood what the Sunni- Shiite conflict was really about (how strictly to interpret hereditary rule based on the teachings of the Koran), he would know he had that argument in the bag.

But you. where do you and your hippie friends get your news- Anarchist weekly. Hey maybe you and your freshman buddies should venture off campus once and check out you know, real news, like Al-Jazeera, a news station that was banned from airing in Iraq under the Hussein administration. If you think Al-Jazeera is pro-America, that's because your not reading/watching it.

Also you forgot to mention the 4-9 billion dollars of cash loaded in bricks onto pallets sent to Baghdad that went missing. That's a lot a moola'
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
Lol I'm against this too, but for really different reasons.
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