Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, May 24, 2004  

What I'd Do

Which raises the question I've been pondering--what should we do in Iraq? The first thing is to determine what outcome we'd like. This is something the White House neglected--I assume because the forces within it couldn't agree. The public answer has been "a free and democratic Iraq," but transfering sovereignty at this moment is the one way to ensure freedom and democracy are killed quickly and painfully. But is that even the right answer?

To achieve a free and democratic Iraq, several conditions must be met, and these are long projects indeed--if they are to be successful at all. The first step is stability. Next, racial and sectarian hatred must be addressed. I don't know that this is possible, but for the sake of a more interesting post, let's assume it is. Next are all the usual prerequisites--education, a good economy, decent health care. Now, finally, the country may be ready for some democracy. Probably there needs to be an interim government with UN oversight while a true constitution is drafted. And now, 20 years later, Iraq is finally ready to fly on its own.

I think a more natural process of democracy is warranted. Iraq, a strange mixture of Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurdish populations, has never determined its own destiny. The nation became a nation after an occupying force drew a line on a map. Now it stands ready to receive similar treatment from a second occupier (though this time the terrain is political, not geographic). Is forced democracy democracy at all? Do the citizens living in what is now Iraq wish to be abandoned to whatever the Pentagon dreams up tonight?

The Iraq situation is far from unique. Every year, we watch a situation play out in which a country is rent by forces within its own population. As a global community, we haven't explored solutions to the situation beyond brief stopgaps that sew instability into the country's future. What Iraq needs is a global time-out. Call it a ten-year plan wherein a provisional federal government is set up to conduct a series of reforms. These reforms are standardized (sorta like the IMF's, but designed to benefit the country, not bloodsucker first-world nations), so they follow an established course. Along the way, democratic government is slowly introduced, from the local level on up. In the final stage, a constitution is drafted by local leaders and elections are held.

Stability isn't cheap or easy. The notion that we'd storm in, slaughter a few baddies, build some election booths and be on our merry way was patent stupidity. We're fortunate that the Bushies had a free hand to execute their stupidity--nothing could have more clearly proven the point than they have. Now the grown-ups need to put aside the overheated rhetoric of the neocons, roll up their sleeves, and do the hard work.

posted by Jeff | 3:19 PM |
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