Debunking The Domino theory: a leaked State Department report casts doubt on the idea that the brave new Iraq the Bush administration anticipates, can ever be achieved.

Author:Vesely, Milan
Position:Regional
 
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A classified 26 February State Department document titled Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes, has been leaked to the US media. Under the "domino" clause, the document debunks the theory that fostering democracy in Iraq will have a positive effect on the political systems of Jordan, Syria, Iran and even Egypt--something the Bush administration has been using as justification for its Iraqi war.

"This idea that you are going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is simply not credible," officials who have studied the document conclude. Produced by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence--an in-house `think-tank'--the document does not necessarily reflect the views of Secretary of State Colin Powell, the same officials admit. They further conceed that considerable friction has developed between the Bush administration's foreign policy arm and the hard-line neo-conservatives who seem to have the ear of the President.

The Vietnam War was justified on the basis of the domino theory. It was thought that if South Vietnam fell to the communists the rest of Asia would follow like a pack of cards. Now that theory is again being tested in Iraq but with a surprisingly different twist: foster democracy in Iraq and it will cast a shadow across the Arab world. However, from the document's contents it seems not everyone in Colin Powell's State Department agrees with this pillar of the Bush doctrine.

The Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes document was originally distributed to only a select group of State Department officials. According to reports it claims that "even if some version of democracy were to take hold in Iraq--an unlikely event--anti-American sentiment is so pervasive in the Arab world that elections, in the short term, could lead to the rise of Islamic-controlled governments hostile to the United States." The authors quote Turkey and Algeria as examples. Turkey's democratically elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to allow American troops to use Turkish military bases to open a northern front. And Turkey is also refusing to accede to the Bush administration's order not to send Turkish troops into northern Iraq, raising considerable angst, if not white-hot anger, among administration officials in Washington.

"The civil war in Algeria, following the apparent victory of the Islamists in the 1992 elections, is an example of how democratic elections can be taken over by religious...

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