‘Is Democracy Broken?’ or ‘Saddam vs. George’

To keep with my non-theme, I have added yet another category to my blog with this post: “Politics”. Actually, I think this post is more about political systems.

I have noticed lately, that my firm belief in ‘democracy’, that was developed in my youth, is now challenged significantly in my adulthood. Questions pop up like:

  • Is the general public just too apathetic or just plain dumb to pick politicians that will do any good?
  • In some countries, is a dictatorship not a much better way to keep the majority of people happy and safe (if not ‘free’)?
  • Isn’t it unlikely that you can elect a government that can both manage within the borders of the country AND be effective at developing foreign policy?
  • Isn’t the excuse that ‘well, democracy is the best game in town, so lets do that’ just that, an excuse?

While I have a lot of respect for many of the citizens of the U.S.A. (and I count several as good friends that I have a lot of respect for), if you were to use their heads of state as representative of the whole lot, you would have a pretty low opinion of their ethics, intelligence and even their strength of character.

Democracy is supposed to be all about choices, and in some ways the US system has it right: Compared to we in Canada, they vote for everything! They vote for their police chiefs, district attourneys, local government, state government, federal… But when it comes to political parties, you have a choice of two: the asses that are slightly left of right (the Democrats), and the elephant in the room with no apologies of how ‘right’ they are (the Republicans AKA the ‘GOP’). Those choices, I think, don’t lead to a very strong democracy, and perhaps is part of the reason why their current government is poo.

Lets look at a country that was, until the recent intervention of a democratic country, a dictatorship: Iraq. Now, no question that Saddam was one bad dude! During is ~25 year tenure as the leader of this middle eastern country >600,000 civilians died by non-natural causes. 500,000 of this was in the Iran-Iraq war alone, a war intended to protect Saddam’s regime from the more religious fundamentalist dictatorship in Iran (backed by the USA, need I remind). Was he a puppet of the USA? That gets a strong yes, in earlier years, and perhaps a maybe ca. 2000.

Now, with Iraq a democracy, should things not get better for the people of Iraq? Surely we should open a McDonalds and everything should be fine! Seeing the death toll in Saddam’s regime got me thinking about how things compare. As you can see on my sidebar, I keep track of the ‘body count’ in Iraq.

Iraq Body Count is an ongoing human security project which maintains and updates the world’s largest public database of violent civilian deaths during and since the 2003 invasion. The count encompasses non-combatants killed by military or paramilitary action and the breakdown in civil security following the invasion.


For ‘shits and giggles’ I put together the following chart (hey, it is what I do for a living…) which is intended to both be humorous and sobering at the same time; tell me what you think.

Saddam vs. George
So, would Iraq have been better off as a dictatorship in the long run? Or is forced democracy the right approach? I am not smart enough to say, but for now I think it is a bit of a draw. Some countries should be left alone to make their own way to democracy. Once a country creates a democracy, it shouldn’t stop there either! There has to be a better system in the long run, and I don’t think we are doing ourselves any favours by not even discussing it.

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