Could regime change in Iraq promote the spread of democracy in the Middle East?

PRO (yes)

George W. Bush, MBA, US President, on Aug. 26, 2003 stated in his remarks to the 85th American Legion Convention:

"Iraq's progress toward self-determination and democracy brings hope to other oppressed people in the region and throughout the world. It is the rise of democracy that tyrants fear and terrorists seek to undermine.

The people who yearn for liberty and opportunity in countries like Iran and throughout the Middle East are watching and they are praying for our success in Iraq."

Aug. 26, 2003 - George W. Bush, MBA 

Donald H. Rumsfeld, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, on May 27, 2003 stated in his op/ed, "Core Principles for a Free Iraq," published in the Wall Street Journal:

"For if Iraq--with its size, capabilities, and resources--is able to move to the path of representative democracy, the impact in the region and the world could be dramatic. Iraq could conceivably become a model--proof that a moderate Muslim state can succeed in the battle against extremism taking place in the Muslim world today.

The transition to democracy will take time and may not always be a smooth road. In Central and Eastern Europe, the process has taken time, but it is succeeding."

May 27, 2003 - Donald Rumsfeld 

John Howard, former Australian Prime Minister, on June 3, 2004 stated before the press in the White House Rose Garden:

"The Western world, the countries of the free world have a lot at stake in relation to Iraq. If the democratic future of Iraq can be achieved, that will have beneficial consequences not only in Iraq, but it will also be a wonderful demonstration in the Middle East and around the world that democracy is not something which is confined to countries that have historically enjoyed it. I regard that as something of an arrogant attitude on behalf of those who think that, in some way, democracy cannot be extended to countries that haven't regularly enjoyed it over past decades."

June 3, 2004 - John Winston Howard 

Victor Davis Hanson, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, on Feb. 11, 2005 wrote in his paper "Ten Reasons to Support Democracy in the Middle East":

"It is not a neocon pipedream, but historically plausible that a democratic Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq can create momentum that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and eventually even a Syria or Iran would find hard to resist.

Saudi Arabia's ballyhooed liberalization, Mubarak's unease about his successor, Libya's strange antics, Pakistan's revelation about nuclear commerce, and the Gulf States' talk of parliaments did not happen in a vacuum, but are rumblings that follow from fears of voters in Afghanistan and Iraq — and a Mullah Omar dethroned and Saddam's clan either dead or in chains."

Feb. 11, 2005 - Victor Davis Hanson, PhD 

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, PhD, Founder and Director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, stated in a Mar. 2005 interview with

"Removing Saddam Hussein has definitely helped the democratic forces in the [Middle East] to feel that history is on their side and when I am asked about the role of Bush in this regard I see his role are more like a midwife for democracy.

Remember, thousands, not hundreds, thousands, have been working for democracy for the last 40 years in [the Middle East], and Bush comes into this game—and I am happy that he came—and his role is not unlike a midwife for a region that was already pregnant with the yearning for democracy and he helped to deliver it, although by caesarean."

Mar. 2005 - Saad Eddin Ibrahim, PhD 

CON (no)

Juan R. I. Cole, PhD, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan, stated the following in his Aug. 12, 2004 article "Kerry and Bush on Iraq War":

"What are Mr. Bush's real plans for Iraq, such that his 'mission' there cannot be completed within one year? What exactly is the mission? Because if it is forcing Western democracy on Iraq and then holding up Iraq as a model to other Middle Easterners, that is not working out very well. Iraq under the Bush administration is the worst advertisement for democracy in the history of the world."

Aug. 12, 2004 - Juan Cole, PhD 

James Dobbins, Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND, stated in his article published in the Jan./Feb. 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs:

"What efforts the Bush administration has made to forge regional and international cooperation have centered on democratization and counterterrorism. Both campaigns have considerable merit and potentially broad appeal; regimes in the region fear terrorism, and their people desire more democracy.

Unfortunately, both projects have been irredeemably compromised in the eyes of Arab constituencies because the United States has chosen occupied Arab lands on which to test them. Whatever the logic of trying to sow democracy in Palestine and Iraq first, the United States' attempts to do so have largely undermined its broader efforts.

Until Washington's democratization campaign can be purged of its association with preemtion and occupation, it will have little resonance in the region."

Jan./Feb. 2005 - James Dobbins 

Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated in the Middle East Policy Council's Oct. 9, 2002 forum "War with Iraq: A Cost-Benefit Analysis":

"We will not be judged by how we go to war, we will not be judged by how we fight this war; we will be judged by what happens after this war and by the way we deal with Iraq in the region once the war is over.

The president as yet has provided absolutely no indication or leadership on this issue. The most that he has done is make reference to words like democratization, which has become a four-letter word in the region, a synonym for imperialism, for potentially seizing control of oil, for going on from Iraq to other countries and for dictating the political future of the region."

Oct. 9, 2002 - Anthony H. Cordesman 

Greg Miller, MA, Intelligence Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, cited a State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research report labeled "Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes" in his Mar. 14, 2003 article "Democracy Domino Theory 'Not Credible'":

"A classified State Department report expresses doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a claim President Bush has made in trying to build support for a war, according to intelligence officials familiar with the document.

The report exposes significant divisions within the Bush administration over the so-called democratic domino theory, one of the arguments that underpins the case for invading Iraq.

'Liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve,' says one passage of the report, according to an intelligence official who agreed to read portions of it to The Times.

'Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.'

The thrust of the document, the source said, 'is that this idea that you're going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible.'"

Mar. 14, 2003 - Greg Miller, MA