Concocting Democracies

(Letter to U.S. Congressman supporting the Iraq invasion.)

Sir, I'm surprised that you, a U.S. Congressman, would have such a shallow understanding of American history. Yes, it took 11 years (not 14, as you say) from the acceptance of the Articles of Confederation by the Continental Congress (1777) to the ratification of the Constitution (1788), to fine-tune the Law of the Land on paper.
But that doesn't mean, as you claim, that Democracy did not go into effect until the final document was signed Democracy in America didn't suddenly come into being in a 11-year year period. It had been evolving for centuries, beginning with the Magna Charta in the mother country (1215) and advanced in the Colonies since the Mayflower Compact (1620) By the time the Revolutionary War broke out, the basic institutions of democracy (though not as expansive as they are today) were already deeply-rooted in American government. The ratification of the Constitution was just the icing on the cake.

So your notion that given a few more months or years a disunited tribal society like Iraq with no tradition whatsoever in democratic rule, can of a sudden come together and become a full-fledged democracy is delusional. Nor are your comparisons with post-WWI Germany and Japan valid. Those nations already had a long history of internal cooperation, cultural unity, an industrialized economy and a literate population—a sound base for democratization.

Consider as further proof that less developed nations—Cuba, Angola, Bolivia, Liberia, to name some—have tried to mimic our democratic form of government, but to no avail, though their constitutions are as well written and, in some cases, five times lengthier and more detailed than ours. Most nations—Iraq included—simply lack the political, social and economic underpinnings to sustain a true democracy. Democracies, in short, cannot be created out of nothing overnight. Or maybe you know this and, professional politician that you are, are trying to hoodwink voters into supporting the War in Iraq. If so, I suggest you argue your case from a different perspective. Not all of us voters are as ignorant and gullible as you may think.

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