The Realist Prism: Victory vs. Democracy in Iraq

The Realist Prism: Victory vs. Democracy in Iraq

Five years ago, in an essay in National Interest, Paul Saunders and I attempted to address the question of what victory in Iraq would look like. We concluded that success would include depriving al-Qaida of a base, closing Iraq's borders to foreign fighters, and the emergence of a central government capable of ensuring some degree of stability, without repressive methods or too close an alignment with Iran. "Americans and others will recognize victory," we wrote, "if we have managed to break the back of al-Qaida in Iraq and left in place an Iraqi government committed and able to prevent the jihadists from returning."

Given those criteria, has Iraq's democracy -- or "Iraqcracy", to use the term coined by Gen. David Petraeus -- delivered a result that will allow the United States to indeed proclaim victory and announce the termination of the Iraq enterprise that started in March 2003?

Post-election jockeying continues among Iraq's political parties and factions to determine the formation of the next ruling coalition, but several things already seem certain. First,although former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc won the most seats in the National Assembly, he is in no position to decisively shape the next government. At best, he could put together a large and probably unwieldy coalition that might assure him a majority in parliament, but which would not give him the ability to push through his own vision for policy. Even if he should become prime minister, Allawi would be in no position to implement the ambitious agenda for regional transformation that some of the strongest proponents of the Iraq war unveiled back in 2003.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review