Many Iraqis might have dreamed about democracy, but what they got instead was occupation.
The U.S. government, despite much rhetoric about democracy, imposed its own political structures on Iraq, agreed to more representative procedures and institutions only when pushed to do so by the Iraqi people, presided over the breakdown of civil order, and violated the human rights of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens. In short, Washington acted as an occupation force. By associating its actions with democracy promotion, it ended up giving democracy a bad name.
The Bush administration's declaration that American forces are no longer an occupation force but are there at the request of a sovereign Iraqi government has not been enough to assuage most Iraqis. This is the same rationalization used by the Soviets in Afghanistan and by the United States in South Vietnam -- unpopular dictatorships that came to power and maintained their control only as result of superpower intervention.
President Bush and his supporters still insist that Iraq is a model of "democracy" that other countries in the region should emulate. Just as the Soviets gave "socialism" a bad name through their conquest and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. conquest and occupation of Iraq along with subsequent events in that country have, in the eyes of many Muslims worldwide, tarnished the reputation of democracy