Gunboat  Democracy?

In one sense, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were also weapons of mass distraction. Without doubt, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair believed that Saddam Hussein either had, or had the wherewithal to produce, such weapons when they decided for pre-emptive war. In the case of Iraq, there was particular fear of chemical and biological weapons.

But WMD were not the only motive for war. Both leaders were outraged about a murderous dictator and hoped that toppling him would open the door for democracy in Iraq. This (they hoped) would automatically bring about a degree of stability that would help resolve other conflicts in the region, and also guarantee the uninterrupted flow of oil.

Mixed motives are not necessarily bad motives. In fact, most human motives are mixed. The real question is whether democracy could really have done the trick, and then, whether missiles and tanks are the right method to bring democracy to a country that has suffered dictatorial rule for a long period of time.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.