What constitutes a "Puppet Govt" ?

One os the most glaring accusation that countries surrounding Iraq complain about is that the US will install a “puppet govt” to replace Saddam. Now I understand that the classic definition of a puppet govt is one where the leadership merely parrots the dominating country’s policies. The problem with that definition is that it blurs the distinction between just agreeing with the policies of the dominating country and actually obeying the policies without debate.

In Iraq, any govt that is initially installed will have to follow guidelines to facilitate some semblance of security and order. There will be a chaos following the new govt with regard to the issues of the Sunni, Shiites and the Kurds. Any one of them can level an accusation of being a puppet govt of the USA whenever they dont get their way. That hurts the US position because of the probable military presence that have to be there to help maintain security. It hurts the new govt because it renders them ineffective.

So how does the US prevent the appearance of creating a puppet republic without making the same mistake of immediately exiting and leaving behind a dangerous political vacuum?

I have a simple idea. Since we’re so Hell-bent on “Democratizing the World”, how about we circulate (maybe throw out of planes) copies of the U.S. constitution without the Bill of Rights and amendments and say “Here, this is what we started with. Just consider it ratified and have all elections and swearing-ins finished and a government in place within 6 months.”

We (i.e. our soldiers ± Jimmy Carter) can stick around during the 6 months to make sure the elections are fair and square like they are over here. (Or maybe a bit longer to make sure some semblance of stability is in place.) And then, regardless of who is elected, whether we like 'em or not, we get on a plane and fly out.

Hands? Hands? A show of hands please?
(Just trying to be Democratic.)

This is a good question. The argument I’ve been using with muslim friends (and believe me the last coupla days have been quite exhausting, the amount of (good natured) arguing I’ve had to do with muslims about all this) is that a democracy doesn’t have to be pro-western. It just has to be a democracy.

Once a country is a democracy it can have any orientation it wants. eg India is a democracy yet isn’t particularly pro-western. Pakistan is (sometimes) a democracy and yet it isn’t pro-western. Turkey isn’t particularly pro-American yet it’s a perfectly good democracy. Russia is now democratic yet they follow their own path.

It’s possible that a democracy in Iraq may well be reasonably pro-western but not for any nefarious reasons, just because that’s what Iraqi people are like anyway - western leaning.

Doesn’t stop my muslim friends from being sceptical though - one of them has started calling Baghdad, Baghdead. I hope he turns out to be wrong.

It depends. If the US is really able to let Iraq pursue its own agenda, instead of inflicting a US agenda on it, then it will not be a puppet government.

In some cases (as with Iran, Chile, Guatemala), the US helped to overthrow democratic governments because it didn’t like those government’s policies. The resulting non-democratic governments could be viewed as a puppet government.

Or, in some cases, a democracy really only pays lip-service to democracy. Perhaps it rounds up opposition candidates and puts them in jail, or it shuts down opposition newspapers, etc. Or maybe it restricts certain ethnic groups from voting. Psuedo-democracies (Egypt, post WWII Taiwan and S. Korea, S. Vietnam) cannot be said to reflect the will of the people, so if these countries ally themselves with the US, then they could be viewed as puppet governments.

Given the history of US involvement in the Third World, it’s not unreasonable to think that a democratic Iraq would quickly become a puppet government. That’s why we need to be very cognizant of how we behave after the war, and make sure that we are not favoring certain groups or political leanings.

The answer is simple: All governments friendly to the USA are automatically puppet governments. Only governments utterly hostile to the USA are not puppet governments. Doubleplusgood.

The most obvious choice would be to have everyone oversee the building of the new democratic government. Not the USA alone, not the “coalition of the willing”, but all democracies should be able to make sure that the people of Iraq will get a democracy and not a puppet regime afterwards.


If Tickle-Me-Elmo is your president, you might have a “puppet government”.

A proper question. Of course, Dogface is correct to a degree; it doesn’t matter what we do in some people’s eyes–any post-war, pro-US gov’t in Iraq will be viewed as a puppet to those already prejudiced to that view.

One way of avoiding much of that criticism would be to allow the inclusion of radical Kurdish and Islamic fundamentalist voices in any newly established legislative body, but obviously it would be a worrisome prospect for many American leaders to give such people a legitimized platform… It’s probably not going to happen.

The Kuklapolitans certainly had a puppet government . . .