‘Bitter after-taste’ for Iraq

Thomas Sowell’s column on American efforts to create democracy in Iraq raises a good point, “that you can’t create instant democracy like you are making instant coffee.” But he doesn’t go back far enough. West Virginia’s history didn’t start yesterday, but had its roots in the Civil War, when it became a separate state from Virginia.

When you consider Iran and Iraq, we aren’t talking about instant anything. In 1953, the American government sponsored a coup against Iran’s elected prime minister, installed the Shah, and trained his secret police. They killed tens of thousands of the Shah’s opponents. Not such a democracy-building act.

Our government supported Saddam Hussein (Iraq) as a dictator for 20 years, during which time he killed over 900,000 Iraqis and Kurds. We supported him when he invaded Iran in 1980 by blocking U.N. sanctions and sending him materials for chemical and biological warfare. Again, not exactly a democracy-building act. When Hussein invaded Kuwait, America ended its support and began a long campaign to depose him, first by imposing harsh sanctions and then by invading the country.

Our country’s own intense craving for independence from England is felt by every nation subject to tyrannical governments. And our long history of supporting these dictators in the Middle East can be called lots of things, but it shouldn’t be called Bush’s or anybody’s “gamble to create a thriving democracy.”

The irony of Mr. Sowell’s column is that the “bitter after-taste” felt by grieving American parents is just as bitter to the Iraqis and Iranians who saw their struggles for democracy undone by American intervention. We can do better.

Wendy R. Tuck