While visiting Georgia (the country) this week, Bush credited the current president Mikheil Saakashvili with leading the movement that began the recent wave of democratic revolutions in Ukraine and Lebanon. This former Russian republic erupted in mass demonstrations after dictator Eduard Shevardnadze rigged elections. Saakashvili famously burst into the Georgian parliament bearing a rose and demanding Shevardnadze's revolution.
Bush made a point of saying that Georgians' actions in 2003 encouraged Iraqis to go to the polls to elect their National Assembly.
But wait a second. If you buy this sort of domino-theory idea that political movements are contagious across regions, would it have been necessary to invade Iraq to create democracy there? According to Bush's own logic, the Georgian, Ukrainian, Lebanese, and Palestinian democratic movements would have certainly created the stirrings of democracy in Iraq. Iraqis might have even risen up in full-scale demonstrations or rebellion themselves.
It seems, then, that Bush doesn't hold as much faith in the spread of democracy as he claims publicly. If we accept, as Bush has apparently done privately, that democracy will not spread from one country to the next, then we should be attempting to destabilize other dictatorships around the world in order to spread democracy. But if that's the case, why haven't we invaded Uzbekistan or Belarus? Both are ruled by neo-Stalinist dictators and both are strategically important former Russian republics. (Not to mention genocide-ridden Sudan, where we choose to engage in failed diplomacy instead of sending troops.) If Bush says that we shouldn't invade them for fear of ticking off Russia, then it follows that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq for fear of further provoking al-Qaeda.
But if Bush did believe in the spread of democracy, why would we have invaded Iraq? It's obvious that a democracy movement hatched in Iraq would have been far more successful than one born of a US invasion. If Georgia was the catalyst that Bush claims it was - and if Ukraine and Lebanon are continuations of a single "wave," as it were, - a strong democracy movement would have been inevitable in Iraq. Making it work, would have required only small-scale aid similar to that given to Ukrainian winner Viktor Yushchenko.
The irony, of course, is this - by positing a somewhat dubious "domino theory" of democracy and placing Georgia at the center, Bush has made the most convincing argument against the invasion of Iraq that he launched. Of course, expecting Bush to see that is too much to ask.