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What to Expect from US “Democracy Promotion



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New Political Science Volume 26 Number 3 September 2004 COMMENTARY What to Expect from US Democracy Promotion in Iraq William I Robinson University of California Santa Barbara The US plan for promoting democracy in Iraq is an integral component of its overall interventionist project in the Middle East US rulers are deeply divided over the invasion and occupation of Iraq and they face an expanding foreign policy crisis Nonetheless there is consensus among them and among transnational elites more generally on political intervention under the rubric of democracy promotion Such political intervention is not just a Republican much less a Bush regime policy As such it plays a key legitimating function and can be expected to become a central component of overall US strategy in Iraq in the coming months and years Washington s plan for political transition in Iraq involves the election of constituent assembly in December 2004 in the wake of the alleged restoration of Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 1 to be followed by general elections in December 2005 The US government had already allocated by early 2004 at least 458 million dollars for a program to promote democracy in Iraq 2 The contours of this program are not yet clear But judging by the general pattern of US democracy promotion around the world we can expect that this program will involve funding by Washington through numerous channels both overt and covert of political parties and other elite forums in Iraq as well as a series of organizations in Iraqi civil society among them trade unions business councils media outlets student and women s groups and professional associations 3 These democracy promotion programs are part of a larger four step plan for the entire Middle East announced by Washington in 2003 using its 1 At the time of writing April 2004 the US State Department maintained that on June 30 2004 sovereignty would be turned over to an expanded Iraq Governing Council IGC the unelected Council of 25 appointees



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