Our perfect constiitution? What should we be teaching our students?

Sean Wilson whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 6 08:59:56 PST 2005

I'm not all that interested in discussing Iraq, and I haven't followed all of these posts, but I just want to say one thing. (Forgive me if it is a repeat of anything I missed). I would say that Iraq is neither about Presidential abuse, the need for constitutional reform, failed intelligence or anything else mentioned. To be frank with you, I would blame the war -- if one desires at this point to ascribe blame -- on social science.
"Social science? What's he talking about?"
The answer is this: people in the administration bought into the social scientific claims about "democratic peace." The idea is that democratic structures cause a nation's resources to be allocated differently (not toward bombs and war) and therefore produces a responsible neighbor in the community of nations. We never went to war because of weapons for crying out loud. We went there because we wanted to take prime, oil-rich real estate in the center of Arabia and turn it away from being just another state that allocates resources for destructive purposes and toward a state that allocates resources for more neighborly purposes. This was thought to be the proper response to the war against terrorism from the standpoint of game theory. If rogue states give intelligence, money, manpower, etc. to a terror network that does not have an address, it becomes hard to fight the bastards. One way of doing it is planting a garden. Iraq was thought at the time to be the rational spot whe!
 re one
 could grow a democracy, a move that would, if successful, threaten Iran and Syria in a serious way. If Iraq was converted into a democracy, dictatorships in neighboring regions would be threatened. (Why do you think that the Saudis are now allowing local elections -- they were encouraged to adopt Constitutional monarchy because of the effect elections are believed to have upon people). 
 I remember Rumsfeld talking about democracy as though it were universal: that you could just plant it somewhere and watch it grow. I think the theory of "democratic peace" is as much to blame for Iraq as the application of game theory to conventional warfare was in Vietnam (See the Wizards of Armageddon). Just as defense intellectuals told Lyndon Johnson that a simple counterforce would make it irrational for North Vietnam to successfully wage war against South Vietnam, so too were administration officials told that planting democracy would grow good neighbors in the middle east.
Maybe the "democratic peace" theory is wrong: it is not institutions that bring about behavior; it is the social conditions which brought about the institutions in the first place (missing in Iraq) that causes the behavior, which the institutions then merely maintain. Had social science been correct, perhaps they would have never done Iraq. Then again, if it eventually works (Iraqi democracy survives), I guess a different ending will be written indeed.
For my 2 cents, they should have just imposed a constitutional monarchy and supported its development to term silently from the sidelines. Sorry for the long post.           


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