Two weeks ago, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made some surprising admissions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East were not about spreading democracy but were instead about addressing security issues.
During an interview at the Brooking Institute last Thursday, Rice stated the following:
“We didn’t go to Iraq to bring democracy to Iraq, we went to Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who we thought was reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction and who we knew had been a threat in the region. It was a security problem.”
Condoleezza Rice also stated:
“We didn’t overthrow the Taliban to bring democracy to Afghanistan, we overthrew them because they were harboring Al-Qaeda in a safe haven after 9/11.”
Her statements run in contradiction to official “Operation Iraqi Freedom” White House statements that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 in order to promote democracy, as noted by Newsweek.
“Once we had done that, it was a separate decision as to whether or not to try to advocate for a post-Saddam or a post-Taliban Iraq or Afghanistan that would be democratic, or that it would be given a chance for democracy. And we actually debated whether that ought to be the case.
But we felt, particularly in the Middle East, we had done enough of support authoritarians because they are stable, and then watch them ultimately not be stable,” Rice added.
According to Condoleezza Rice, as Bush’s foreign policy advisor, she would never have asked Bush to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan by military force, which she said was a “dramatic” example of democracy promotion.
For example, former Vice President Dick Cheney once said:
“The point would be that the conflict will be intense, but it’s intense because the terrorists understand that if we’re successful at accomplishing our objective — standing up a democracy in Iraq — that that’s a huge defeat for them.” [emphasis added]
To anyone who has been paying attention to these conflicts, Rice’s admission is hardly surprising.
Not only did she already admit in 2011 that “we didn’t go to Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqis,” but clearly, the U.S. has no interest in delivering actual freedom and democracy in any of the countries in the Middle East, as American-led interventions have only led to chaos and destruction.
Further, if Cheney’s stated goals were correct, it still begs the question as to how a country can deliver freedom and democracy to another country by using outright force — completely contrary to the stated principles of democracy.
For example, Saddam Hussein was far more popular prior to the 2003 invasion than any puppet government the U.S. could ever have installed. The U.S. hardly heralded a democratic transition.
Further, Rice’s rationale for the “intervention” are almost exactly what we were told at the outset in the days leading up to the U.S. invasion, namely that Saddam Hussein posed a major security threat to the region (and to the United States); particularly in relation to his non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
By the time the U.S. invaded, the narrative that they were bringing Iraq “democracy” had already gained popularity.
Condoleezza Rice’s latest book is entitled: Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom.
Last week, Rice explicitly told Politico that she views her book as “really helping Americans to understand the great sweep of America’s involvement in democratic transitions, the promotion of democracy, trying to help us understand it from the context of our own democracy and the very long road that it took us to get to a stable democracy.”
According to Rice, democracy means “trying to help the Ukrainians deal with the most difficult circumstances,” for example.
According to a cable obtained by Wikileaks, Viktor Yanukovych’s successor in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, previously worked as a mole for the U.S. State Department during the Bush-Cheney era. The State Department even referred to Poroshenko as “our Ukrainian insider.” He currently has a 17 percent approval rating.
To people like Condoleezza Rice, that is the meaning of democracy: replacing an unfriendly regime with a regime that will do Washington’s bidding. In the case of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was doing Washington’s bidding up until the U.S. government decided to turn its back on him.
At least with Rice’s brutal honesty and recent confirmation, which directly contradicts what the rest of the Bush administration have been telling us for years, we now know his removal had nothing to do with promoting the democratic interests of the Iraqi people.