Withdrawal from Iraq and Tunisia’s Elections Prove Democracy from the People Is the Ideal

October 28, 2011

Last week, President Barack Obama announced a US troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011, after nearly nine years in a war that may be classified as one of the biggest US foreign policy blunders in modern history. In an attempt to fulfill platform promises by year’s end, Obama is well on his way to accomplishing one more. While Operation Iraqi Freedom continues to be a controversial war and has raked an upwards of $806 billion as of March 2011, democratizing Iraq took far too long and incurred heavy costs. Conversely, the organic democratizing of the Middle East and North Africa, as exemplified through the Arab Spring, has been much more effective.

Tunisia, the first of the Arab Spring countries to successfully oust its tyrannical leader, held its first post-revolution election this past week. The timeline of transition between disposing a dictator and holding free and fair elections was less than one year; amplifying the power of the people’s urge for democracy as compared to democracy by the gun.

Though there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to foreign policy issues, we must be aware that democracy through war bears a heavy price on all those involved. “The end of war in Iraq reflects a larger transition. The tide of war is receding,” said Obama during his press conference on the withdrawal.

Rather than gripping the handle of a gun in the pursuit of democracy, the grip of a blow horn with the power of the masses behind it is becoming the positive and productive trend in the region. The Middle East and North Africa are dynamic and continuously changing regions; a shift in consciousness from hawkish policies toward more natural progressions of democracy is imperative.

The Arab Spring has proven that its future is not predicated on US policies, though US trends and attitudes since the beginning of the Arab Spring have been favorable. Favorable foreign policy initiatives coupled with successful movements in the Middle East and North Africa is proving to be a step in the right direction and a shift away from President George W. Bush’s foreign policy doctrine and an acknowledgment that the tide of war in American foreign policy is waning. This week’s Tunisian elections, in conjunction with Egypt’s upcoming post-revolution November elections, are demonstrating the elevating tide of democracy through nonviolent means.

Being in the business of democratizing people has hindered the US. Democracy, religious freedom and justice emerge when societies can take control of their own destinies. Our foreign policy should enable civil societies, especially in places where historically that sector has been weak, to ensure that true democracy from the people is established.

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