Democracy does not ensure a nation’s success, thus elections cannot solve a lack of proper governance nor any other problems while politics tends to be a source of problems for democracies as they do not readily allow the suppression of dissent. It is leadership and problem solving that allows problems to be solved. On the other hand, nondemocratic and ill-democratic governments are far more susceptible to the self-serving tendencies of “power seekers.” As such, elections are a means of removing ineffective and counterproductive leadership from government. In the case of Iraq, President Fouad Massoum’s nomination of Deputy Parliament Speaker Haider Abadi to be Iraq’s next prime minister over incumbent Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose efforts to consolidate and solidify power undermine his ability to build a government of consensus, represents a serious obstacle to Iraqi democracy and governance.
Quite frankly, Iraq is under siege by the militant Islamic State and the only reason the Islamic State has not been able to continue its rapid takeover of Iraqi territory is largely due to recent US bomb strikes aimed at destroying the militant’s heavy artillery, which they acquired during the capitulation of the Iraqi army, and the valiant efforts of the under- armed Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Consequently, politics is the last thing Iraq’s leadership should be concerned about. The instinct of a nation confronting a crisis should be to come together, so everyone is focused on problem solving, yet Iraq’s government is not. In many respects, the failure of Iraq’s political leadership to do this is a reflection of American political leadership’s, including both Democrats and Republicans, failure to teach by example how a mature, functional government needs to behave when faced with the practical issues of governance. At the same time, al-Maliki represents a great deal of the problem.
Because there is a lack of confidence, as well as trust, in al-Maliki’s leadership, he cannot lead the Iraqi government, military, and People. Instead of resigning weeks ago, al-Maliki is now placing himself in a position where his efforts to retain power will undermine the Iraqi government even more. All power seekers legitimize, consolidate, and solidify their power. Where a legal system rooted in a constitution is supposed to be about creating order by formalizing what society’s deems legitimate behavior, al-Maliki is using vagueness and technicalities he helped build into Iraqi law to legitimize his efforts to remain in power. Most unfortunately, al-Maliki is even using his corruption of the Iraqi military to force his rule onto the rest of Iraq’s elected leaders. In doing so, he is actually implementing a coup against his fellow lawmakers, transforming his followers into a separatist faction analogous to the Islamic State, and cementing Iraq as an ill-democratic nation doomed to split up from a lack of proper governance.
For those who do not fundamentally believe in the value of true democracy and/or value their interests above the need to balance the interests of all Peoples within a nation, there is an inherit choice when it comes to governance and democracy. In truth, democracy’s strength is its long-term ability to ensure the wildly diverse interests of a population can be heard and adequately addressed; whereas, non-democratic forms of government tend to cater to the views of small groups of elites. Non-democratic forms of government have the short-term strength of suppressing disruptive oppositions, thus it is always tempting for even those who do support democracy to indulge autocratic rule when politics creates problem. Al-Maliki views himself to be the only qualified options, thereby making everyone else a poltical obstacle. In truth, no one is indispensible in any government. People may take steps to legitimize assertions that favor their rule while the loss of great leaders can be huge obstacles, but democracy and proper governance depend on no one man. Iraq’s leaders need to be interested in leading and solving problems in order to govern, thus Iraq will either find leaders interested in proper governance through its democracy or fail from a lack of proper governance due to politics.
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