Letters from the Democracy Engineers

Letters from other citizens





Email letter to the editor, Time Magazine, Clash of Administration Titans, Powell vs. Rumsfeld , Saturday 12 April 2003 www.time.com/time/covers/1101030414/ndod.html

The solution to that clash is a "third way" which consists of immediately organizing an open-ended constitutional convention open to all Iraqi political movements and ethnic groups, internal and external, but completely open to the world's media. Ideally, it would be co-sponsored by the US, UK, France, Germany and Russia, to bring more credibility. No one should choose the future leaders of Iraq except the process itself. And only an open process under the glare of global media will bring widespread credibility and hence legitimacy. The convention could operate as a national catharsis and if it started on 25 May, that would be a powerful symbolic nod to 25 May 1787 when Americans met to create the US constitution. If it took Americans over 3 months to agree, why can?t Iraqis be given as much time?

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Letter to Nicholas Kristof, editor in the New York Times

There is one more option

Sat, 08 Feb 2003

To: Nicholas Kristof , New York Times <nicholas@nytimes.com>

Dear Mr. Kristof,

In your column "War and Wisdom" today (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/07/opinion/07KRIS.html?th), you make an excellent point that Bush has proven Saddam is a cheater etc. but that he has failed to show that war is the answer. But where I think you and others such as Jimmy Carter are mistaken is that containment is a better solution. It may be a temporary solution but it is risky and unfair to the Iraqis who have suffered decades under Saddam.

Bush is right that Saddam must go for many reasons.

But unlike what you claim, Bush has not at all "made the case that we are justified in invading Iraq". This is a fallacy. He has ONLY made the case that we must get rid of Saddam. Everyone assumes, mainly for lack of understanding of the Founding Fathers and of the powers of freedom, for lack of political imagination and for lack of faith in the appeal of democracy, that the only way to oust Saddam is through war. This is just plain wrong.

Spreading this falsehood is the best way to ensure that war will happen, because then people will always make the equation "a free Iraq=preemptive war". This equation is unproven. And at the very least, it is unproven that only war can free Iraq. It might but it is only one of a number of solutions, and it is the highest risk solution of all the universe of solutions, especially if the goal is to create sustainable democracy in such infertile soils.

To believe that it would easy to create a new democracy under the gun of a US general, and after a war where probably thousands of innocents have died, is to be naive and irresponsible.

We must design a process which minimises risk and gives us more margin for error. Margin for error is synonym for perceived legitimacy. The more perceived legitimacy for any action, the more margin and leeway for error when inevitable blunders happen.

We ("Democracy Engineers") claim that it is possible to design a process that ousts Saddam with maximal legitimacy, hence minimal risks.

We can get rid of Saddam without a war, or at least a preemptive war. We call this Preemptive Democracy. It is explained on our website but here are the main advantages:

1. it dramatically increases the chance that Saddam will fall without military intervention

2. if military intervention were needed, it transforms a "preemptive war" which sets a bad precedent for India, Pakistan etc. into a normal war

3. it avoids completely or minimizes the biggest potential headache of all: the need for a dangerous, costly and lenghty military occupation of Iraq.

this option has not yet been discussed publicly though we have presented personally to a dozen governments at high levels, sometimes the highest (both western and Muslim). We are slowly informing Congress which ought to know the options to protect the American people.

If you want to write about it, that would be extremely useful in promoting a public debate.



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Senator Dianne Feinstein

331 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C.


Dear Senator Feinstein,

I would be remiss if I did not share with you my concerns regarding war with Iraq . I am against the President and the Administration's plans for war. I am dismayed that you seem to support these plans.

I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat. But I also agree with Senator Byrd that this preemptive war strategy sets a horrible precedent for American foreign policy. The greatest nation on Earth should also be the wisest, should it not? What is the hurry to deal out death and destruction?

I urge you, as a Democrat, to seek a better way. "Preemptive Democracy For Iraq" is a concept forwarded by the think-tank group World Citizen Foundation. Their plan can be found at www.worldcitizen.org. I believe this plan would make this war one of true liberation for the Iraqi people, and ensure worldwide support for America's actions. As of now, the world sees this war for what I fear it might be- a resource grab by an Administration made up of energy industry executives. If there must be fighting and the killing of Iraqi civilians, let it be limited, and let it be righteous. Let it truly be for freedom, not for oil.

I want to be proud of my country, Senator. I want to be proud of you. "Flattening Baghdad" will only foster more hatred against America, more terrorism. I am against this specific strategy.

Please do not accept this situation.


Michael Oosterom

Los Angeles

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Letter to the Editor, the Oregonian, February 13 2003 from Zac Barton, CA

Thanks for your editorial and for your invitation for response.

I am a part-time teacher and, dare I say, part-time actor in Los Angeles. Being so part time I have lots of time to pay attention to what is happening in the news right now.

I share your ambivalence and your concerns. I am beginning to fear our leaders' rabid hunger for war as much as the madmen across the seas. I certainly don't trust that Bush has examined all alternatives.

For weeks my husband and I kept asking ourselves "if Hussein is such a bad man," -- and we believe he is -- "then why isn't the administration focusing on his human rights violations?" When we started looking into what is happening with the Kurds, both past and present (do a google search for "hands off kirkuk"), we realized that they can't afford to focus on the Kurds because we are preparing to do the same yet again. We are preparing to hand the Kurds over to Turkey for further persecution in exchange for military access to Iraq and to keep a stronghold in the oil-rich Kurdish cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

You spoke of a moral high ground, exploring alternatives and asked for passionate argument. In my scouring of the web I came across an organization at www.worldcitizen.org They have a proposal for peace that sounds doable to me. The name alone is a thing of beauty, Preemptive Democracy for Iraq. I recommend reading their letter to Bush as it is their most succinct argument. However, since I am in no way affiliated with this think-tank. I will give you my own interpretation:

Preemptive Democracy for Iraq proposes that representatives of the Iraqi opposition from inside and outside the country convene a Constitutional Convention in Northern Iraq under the protection of the no-fly zone to Declare their Independence from the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein. Once established, this new government, a democratic federation of states (or United States of Iraq, if you will) would be recognized by the UN as the new government of Iraq and Hussein would be out of the picture. From that point on, if Hussein makes any attempts to overthrow the new government or cause harm to the Iraqi people the new USofI could then ask for aid from the UN. Any military action would could then easily be supported by the UN and would then not be preemptive.

Worldcitizen.org is a think-tank after all so they know how to say it a lot better than me. I'm just an american. I just know how to compare it to Philadelphia and 1776 and all of that stuff I sort of remember from grade school. But I also happen to be an artist an believe in searching for creative solutions.

Thank you for doing the same.


"War doesn't kill the warmongers." -- a Pakistani-American pilgrim in Mecca for the Hajj, "Nightline" 2/12/03

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Letter to the Editor, New York Times, February 12 2003

"RE.: American Officials Disclose 2-Year Plan to Rebuild Iraq."

According to this report, two cabinet under secretaries have asserted that "the Bush administration has ruled out plans for helping Iraqi exiles [to] create a provisional government." If this report is accurate, the U.;S. Government is doomed to repeat a cardinal error which led to our defeat in Vietnam and which continues to handicap other efforts to construct a safer, more progressive and more orderly world system.

That shortcoming is our failure to provide a legitimate political alternative to either Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden. Throughout the Vietnam conflict--from JFK to LBJ to Nixon--our policy makers paid nothing more than lip service to the advocacy of a real political alternative to Ho Chi Minh. Today the Bush administration's exhortations are little more than fulsome rhetoric: Very few in the developing world and, for that matter, of Europe as well, any longer believe that our highest priority is the extension of representative democracy committed to the material betterment of the citizenry.

The Iraqi exiles, at this moment meeting in Northern Iraq to formulate a compelling alternative to Saddam's merciless tyranny, ought to be encouraged in every manner to craft a provisional government fully representative of the main groups and interests of the Iraqi people. Such an entity would assure them that the U.S. has no territorial agenda in Iraq, nor any desire to exploit Iraq's huge oil reserves. Awareness of a broadly-based provisional government within Iraq could help to create a more hospitable climate for U.S.-led troops and might even encourage a revolt against Saddam himself. In any event, it is the right thing to do and without any appreciable downside.

Gilbert Jonas

New York, NY

Feb. 12, 2003

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