Sat 29 Jan, 2005 12:01 pm
Here is an analysis of what it takes to build democracy in Iraq. The negative odds of democratic prospect on the of socio-political and historical level, and the hopefull prospects from the side of institutional analysis if the right steps are taken.
Strom Thacker is a professor at Boston University International Relations department (department with a conservative leaning), Chappel Lawson is at MIT (probably more centrist or leftist in a leaning). Either way, their analysis sums up both the good and the bad Iraq will have at the starting point. Hopefully that will contribute to the discussions on Iraq that spring up on this board.
Democracy? In Iraq?
Chappell Lawson and Strom C. Thackersource
The table that goes with the article. For some reason it didn't copy with the article itself.
That's a lovely analytic model. Thank you!
yes, i thought so myself. sorry it is so long, but i didn't want to chop it. an objective analysis has to be long.
Long and careful is just fine with me.
I'm going to toss this over in my noggin a bit. Specifically, I want to consider how cases where a significant resource, of critical importance to US interests, might be a missing element in the analysis.
To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, today they have a democracy.
If they can keep it.
Oh yay - could this be a non-partisan thread about Iraq?
(or - bookmark)
so, i have flipped through 50 channels, and cannot find coverage of the election in Iraq. Only football, football, and more football!!! Off to find some online sources, grrrr.
I hope you don't mind if I drop this piece by Michael Ignatieff into your thread.
Iraqis fight a lonely battle for democracy
Whatever your view of the war, you should embrace today's election
Sunday January 30, 2005
The election in Iraq is without precedent. Never, not even in the dying days of Weimar Germany, when Nazis and Communists brawled in the streets, has there been such a concerted attempt to destroy an election through violence - with candidates unable to appear in public, election workers driven into hiding, foreign monitors forced to 'observe' from a nearby country, actual voting a gamble with death, and the only people voting safely the fortunate expatriates and exiles abroad.
Just as depressing as the violence in Iraq is the indifference to it abroad. Americans and Europeans who have never lifted a finger to defend their own right to vote seem not to care that Iraqis are dying for the right to choose their own leaders.
Why do so few people feel even a tremor of indignation when they see poll workers gunned down? Why isn't there a trickle of applause in the press for the more than 6,000 Iraqis actually standing for political office at the risk of their lives?
Explaining this morose silence requires understanding how support for Iraqi democracy has become the casualty of the corrosive bitterness that still surrounds the initial decision to go to war. Establishing free institutions in Iraq was the best reason to support the war - now it is the only reason - and for that very reason democracy there has ceased to be a respectable cause.
The Bush administration has managed the nearly impossible: to turn democracy into a disreputable slogan.
Liberals can't bring themselves to support freedom in Iraq lest they seem to collude with neo-conservative bombast. Anti-war ideologues can't support the Iraqis because that would require admitting that positive outcomes can result from bad policies. And then there are the ideological fools in the Arab world, and even a few in the West, who think the 'insurgents' are fighting a just war against US imperialism. This makes you wonder when the left forgot the proper name for people who bomb polling stations, kill election workers and assassinate candidates - fascists.
What may also be silencing voices is the conventional wisdom that has been thrown over the debate on Iraq like a fire blanket - everyone believes that Iraq is a disaster; hence elections are doomed. As I was told by one European observer, all that remains is the final act. We are waiting, he said, for the helicopters to lift off the last Americans from the roofs of the green zone in Baghdad. For its part, the Bush administration sometimes seems to support the elections less to give the Iraqis a chance at freedom than to provide what Henry Kissinger, speaking of Vietnam, called 'a decent interval' before collapse.
Beneath the fire blanket of defeatism, everyone - for and against the war - is preparing exit strategies. Those who were against tell us that democracy cannot be imposed at gunpoint, when the actual issue is whether it can survive being hijacked at gunpoint.
Other experts tell us how 'basically' violent Iraqi society is, as a way of explaining why insurgency has taken root. A more subtle kind of condescension claims that Iraq has been scarred by Ba'athism and cannot produce free minds. All this savant expertise ignores the evidence that Iraqis want free institutions and that their leaders have fought to establish them in near-impossible circumstances.
Consider the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who demanded democratic elections in 2003. Since the beginning, Sistani has refused either to ratify US occupation or to legitimise Shia extremism. In the face of incessant provocation, he has marginalised men of violence. His aides have been assassinated, but no calls to massacre the Sunnis or the occupiers have been issued.
Or consider the Kurds, who put aside their infighting, produced a common slate for the elections and kept their peshmergas from seizing Kirkuk and thus saved the country from a civil war.
Finally, consider the moderate Sunnis, who have joined the Allawi government and risked the fury of the Sunni insurgents.
The defeatism of Washington think-tanks and newspaper editorials misses a simple point: the only displays of political prudence and democratic courage have been by the much-despised Iraqis, not their supposedly all-seeing imperial benefactors. Since we lack the grace to admit that Iraqis have shown more wisdom and courage than we have, we don't trust that wisdom and courage to save Iraq now.
The Bush administration knows that, while its mistakes have cost it any real influence in Iraq, its historical reputation will depend on whether freedom takes root there. Already the revisionists are working over the facts: the best way to write the history in advance is to shift the blame onto the Iraqis themselves. Those who opposed the war collude with this revisionism in advance by giving up on the Iraqis and this, their only chance of freedom.
Let us have the decency to support people who are fighting for a free election, and let us have the honesty not to blame them for our own incompetence if they fail. There is still no reason to assume they will.
I really really dislike Ignatieff - he sits just a few blocks away from me here and I see him often. His course on human rights and policymaking is deplorably shallow and vague. His opinions have no backbone and he usually tries to be liked on all sides. All that said, I have to hand it to him, this article was excellent and finally on point. The point that most media, most both liberal and conservative critics tend to miss, which is what actually can be done with the groups of people within Iraq that are trying to make something of this rare situation for the future of their country. War aside and Bush aside, what can really be done and how. I agree that there are defeatist tendencies on both sides for different reasons, and more so on the left, but those tendencies are right now useless and uninteresting. can't wait to see the first breakdowns of the exit polls and who gets to form the government, etc. if you find any, please post. i must head to bed with a miserably flu that hit me like a train in the past hour or so...
LOL...I'm not surprised by your opinion of the fellow. I'd loved his book on Berlin, but found his original position on Iraq to be confoundingly concilliatory. In debate about six months back (with Mark Danner, Hitchens and an LA Times writer) I found him careful, but still conflicted and a bit pompous. But, yes, I like this piece too.
Best wishes on deflument.
It struck me that fellow threaders might become confused with "MG" so no disrespect intented.It is MG here until your previous post is rescinded.
Over the weekend I read a fair slice of "The Great Land Grab" which is a short book on the Mexican-American war 1846-1848.In Nov 1844 'Little Jimmy'
Polk of Duck River was elected 11th President.
The resemblances to contemporary affairs is uncanny.The author was Orlando Martinez and he might be at the JWs.But it is interesting.
I've been de-winged or de-barred or whatever is the proper term for Major Generals cast down with nothing to show for it but a made in china sword, a fading wife, and pittance pension.
Were you aware that Ozzie Osbourne peed on the Alamo?