Still full of tinny triumphalism after all these years: David Horowitz on Iraq “democracy”

In 2004, 2005, and 2006, David Horowitz and his editors at FrontPage Magazine relentlessly promoted the gross untruth that Iraq had become a “free” and “democratic” country as a result of an election or two (held under massive U.S. military protection) and the ratification of a constitution that installed the tyrannical sharia law as the guiding authority in Iraq. Horowitz continues pushing the same untruth about Iraq today. He and Ben Johnson boast:

On this sixth anniversary of America’s invasion of Iraq, there is finally a consensus among supporters and opponents that we’ve won the war. The surge that Bush launched and Democrats opposed has been successful and, as a result, Iraq has become a Middle Eastern democracy, an anti-terrorist regime, and an American ally.

Apparently, since Horowitz’s triumphalist cry in January 2005 that America had won the war and that Iraq had become a democracy didn’t quite pan out, a fact that Horowitz has never admitted, he feels he can make up for it by renewing the same triumphalism today.

But the claim that Iraq has become a democracy is no more correct now than it was in 2005. According to Freedom House, the most authoritative voice on the advance of freedom and democracy in the world, Iraq is at this moment not a free country.

Here is its most current (2008) report on Iraq:

Political Rights Score: 6
Civil Liberties Score: 6
Status: Not Free


In an effort to stem sectarian killings in 2007, the U.S. military initiated a troop surge to augment the number of soldiers already in Iraq. While the effort did reduce civilian casualties, terrorist violence continued. Also during the year, Sunni Arab political participation increased, and tribal cooperation with U.S.-led coalition forces dealt significant blows to al-Qaeda. However, the Iraqi government remained unable to independently provide security and other essential services, and made little progress toward enacting long-delayed reform legislation.

Two things are to be noted. First, in Freedom House’s scoring system 7 is the lowest score. Thus North Korea has a score of 7 in Political Rights and in Civil Liberties. Iraq, with scores of 6 in Political Rights and Civil Liberties, is just one grade better than North Korea.

Second, Freedom House classifies a nation as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. Iraq is not even Partly Free. Every few months I check out the Freedom House website to see if Iraq has graduated to the Partly Free category. It is still Not Free. I called Freedom House today in Washington to find out the current status. The press officer informed me that while there is an improving trend line which will be mentioned in the 2009 Iraq report, not yet published, dealing with the situation through the end of 2008, the basic facts in the 2008 report have not changed: Iraq is Not Free, and its Political Rights and Civil Liberties scores still have a score of 6.

Yet Horowitz and Johnson call Iraq a free, democratic country and say that the U.S. has won a victory there. “Democracy” means, among other things, that a country is able to govern itself and supply its own internal order and the safety and freedom of its citizens. This is manifestly not the case with Iraq. Remove the U.S. forces, and Iraq would soon collapse back into pervasive internal violence and a complete lack of freedom. A county unable to maintain its own order is not a free country.

Below are excerpts from the Freedom House 2008 Iraq report.

Iraq is not an electoral democracy. Although it has conducted meaningful elections, the country remains under the influence of a foreign military presence and impairments caused by sectarian and insurgent violence.


Iraq is plagued by pervasive corruption. The problem has seriously hampered reconstruction efforts, and it is estimated that 25 percent of donor funds are unaccounted for. A leaked U.S. State Department report in 2007 stated that anticorruption commissions had little enforcement capacity, the judiciary was extremely weak, and officials were subject to intimidation by Interior Ministry officers and extrajudicial militias. Iraq was ranked 178 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index.


Freedom of expression is protected by the constitution and generally respected by the authorities. However, it has been seriously impeded by sectarian tensions and fear of violent reprisals.


Although the Iraqi media are not subject to direct government censorship, violent retributions against journalists have hindered their ability to report widely and objectively. Many have persevered in spite of such threats. As many as 206 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in the country since 2003. Dozens have also been abducted by insurgents and militias or detained without charge or disclosure of supporting evidence by U.S. forces on suspicion of aiding and abetting insurgents.


Legislation passed in 2006 criminalized the ridicule of public officials, and a number of Iraqi journalists have been charged with the offense.


Academic institutions operate in a highly politicized and insecure environment. Hundreds of professors and intellectuals have been assassinated for voicing their opinions or encouraging dialogue, or for sectarian reasons. Large numbers of educated Iraqis have fled the country, although the more stable Kurdish region has benefited from an influx of skilled individuals seeking refuge there.


Judicial independence is guaranteed in the new constitution. The Higher Judicial Council (HJC)—headed by the chief judge of the Federal Supreme Court and composed of Iraq’s 17 chief appellate judges and several judges from the Federal Court of Cassation—has administrative authority over the court system. In practice, however, judges have come under immense political pressure and have largely been unable to pursue cases involving organized crime, corruption, and militia activity.


There is a critical lack of centralized control over the use of force in Iraq. Insurgents, militias, and criminal gangs, many with ties to government forces, were responsible for the mistreatment and killing of thousands of civilians in 2007.


Public security for women remained a major problem in 2007. Women who held jobs, attended university, or went out in public unveiled were frequently harassed, and in some cases killed, by radical Islamist groups of both major sects.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 19, 2009 01:43 PM | Send

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