Recent polls show that four out of five Americans believe the conflict in Iraq will escalate into civil war; an opinion that increasingly appears more like hindsight than prognostication. With armed conflicts between Shiites and Sunnis on the rise, it would be a hard sell to convince most Americans that Iraq is not already embroiled in a civil war.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block in the sales pitch to America is the administration's continued insistence that a democratic Middle East is the right approach. Few Americans believe that Democracy can flourish in Iraq. Recent elections in the Palestinian Congress emphasize the perils of promoting Democracy in a region where terrorism and anti-American or anti-Israeli sentiment has popular support. Thoughts of Democratic elections in Pakistan are enough to give even the most optimistic supporter of the policy nightmares for weeks.
Democracy is not a form of government suitable for everyone, nor is it in our best interests to promote popularly elected governments in every part of the world. The sad reality is that there are times when a dictatorship is the right solution, not just for American interests, but also for the betterment of the people in that region. Iraq is one of those places where a call for Democracy virtually guarantees continued armed conflict.
The President will have a very difficult sales pitch to make in his coming speeches. He's going to have to convince a skeptical public that progress is being made in Iraq while news reports continue to show a country backsliding quickly into civil war. He's going to have to convince a skeptical public that promoting Democracy in Iraq is the right approach while the lessons learned from Hamas' recent election show that Democratic elections do not always turn out in our favor. Most importantly, he's going to have to convince us that we are capable of sustaining our efforts in Iraq while the likelihood of military action in Iran continues to increase. It will be a tough sell at best.
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