The American invasion of Iraq is going to go down in history as a perfect example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, of the way means subvert ends and the logic and necessities of military action destroy and undermine everything that that action is supposed to achieve. A war to save Iraqis resulted in US soldiers gunning them down at random because they saw every "Hajji" as a threat. A war to end Saddam's reign of terror resulted in the occupying power publicly considering the use of death squads to keep the civilian population in line. And a war to end torture has simply changed its victims; now it is Sunnis, rather than Shi'ites and Kurds, who are being hung from hooks in the ceiling in dark rooms, screaming in agony as the very same Mukhbarat thugs, thoughtfully rehired by the CPA to help keep order, beat them, electrocute them, and drill holes in their limbs with power-tools.
And now, there's something new to add to the list: having ostensibly waged a war for democracy, the US tried to fix the Iraqi elections. When democracy-promoting NGOs refused to cooperate,
the White House promulgated a highly classified Presidential "finding" authorizing the C.I.A. to provide money and other support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the Administration’s view, were seeking to spread democracy. "The finding was general," a recently retired high-level C.I.A. official told me. "But there’s no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way. The process is under the control of the C.I.A. and the Defense Department."
What this translated to was financial support for former Prime Minister Allawi's party, plus a bit of ballot-box stuffing, to make sure the "wrong people" didn't win - all kept "off the books", using money that wasn't appropriated by Congress, in an effort to avoid oversight. It didn't work - mainly because the Iraqis weren't above such tactics themselves - but the fact remains that the Americans tried. And in the attempt, they corrupted the one genuinely good thing which could have been salvaged from the whole bloody mess. No matter what you thought of the war, I think everyone would have to acknowledge that Iraq's steps towards an Iraqi democracy were something positive. Maybe not worth the deaths required to achieve it, but something positive all the same. But now, the US has corrupted even that. Rather than dying for democracy, it turns out that 25,000 Iraqi civilians, an unknown number of Iraqi soldiers, and almost 2000 coalition troops died so that Bush could fix an election...