September 14, 2005

Iraqi Progress 

I often want to write about the situation in Iraq, but I rarely manage to. It takes time to write a good piece, and sometimes I don't have so much time. In other occasions, I feel like it's such an abused subject that my contribution would go basically unnoticed.

Today I found this paper by David Boxenhorn on Iraq, and I think it is rather significative - and very close to my position:
Amritas chronicles the evolution of his thinking since 9-11. It's an odd thing: I think I agree with his basic perception of the facts, but ultimately I disagree with him. In other words, I don't think that Iraq is going to be a shining beacon of democracy which will light up the world (or even just a plain-old imperfect democracy like Germany or Japan, or the US) - nevertheless I think that in the context of the Middle East, Iraq has already proven to be a beacon of light, and is therefore a great success.
From where I sit, it is natural to compare Iraq today not with Germany or Japan or the US, but with the rest of the Arab world, and with what Iraq used to be. Unless Iraq descends into a Khomeini-like theocracy (which is possible, but I would bet against it) there is no way I could consider the US actions in Iraq to be a failure, neither in the past nor in the foreseeable future.
The notion that Iraq could rapidly become a western-style country has always been unrealistic. And this is criticism of both the Left and Right: the former touts the fact that Iraq is not perfect as a proof of total failure; the latter (at a minion-level; people with decisional power are saner heads) suggested inanities such as copying the Iraqi constitution from the American one.

In time, Iraq can improve and become a prosperous free-market country. But this requires a cultural evolution that we cannot really impose, but only initiate. Then it's up to the Iraqis themselves. The realistic short and medium-term goals are to help Iraq to become a relatively liberal and democratic, relatively secular and relatively capitalist country.

Failure is possible, tho. One immediate (but not very likely) is the rise to power of a radical Islamic government, that can in turn cause at least attempts of secession of the Kurds. Another failure mode is the lack of evolution: Iraq may not manage to evolve further the situation of a relatively good place.

To avoid the first occurrence, it is necessary to have troops on the ground and eventually use them to overthrow the integralist government.

But to encourage the social evolution, soft power is best: communications, books, TV, radio, Internet - anything that will help Iraqis to see the rest of the world, learn about other places an people and ideas, learn what made other countries successful and good places to live. The free exchange of information (and memes) has always had positive effects.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?