Day By Day

Friday, March 17, 2006

"A Quiet Tide Is Rippling..."

Karl Zinsmeister of the American Enterprise Institute has a nice Q and A article on the slow progress of Iraq toward self-sustaining status. His conclusion:

There is no reason to be Pollyannish about Iraq. Like nearly every Arab nation, it is not a competent society at present. Trade, manufacturing, and farming have been suffocated by bad governance. Public servants routinely skim funds. Trash is not picked up, property rights are not respected, rules are not enforced, altruism is non-existent.

Having been one of the most brutalized societies on earth over the last generation, it would be absurd to expect prone Iraq to jump to its feet at this critical transition and dance a jig. Newborn representative governments are always imperfect, inept, even dirty at times—witness El Salvador, Russia, Taiwan, South Africa.

But a quiet tide is rippling up the Tigris and Euphrates. The November 2005 study by Oxford Research found that when Iraqis are asked what form of political system will work best in their nation for the future, 64 percent now say “a democratic government with a chance for the leader to be replaced from time to time.” Only 18 percent choose “a government headed by one strong leader for life,” and just 12 percent pick “an Islamic state where politicians rule according to religious principles.” This surge toward representative toleration—which did not enjoy majority support in Iraq as recently as early 2004—ought not to be taken for granted. It is an historic groundswell.

Iraq is now creeping away from murderous authoritarianism to face the more normal messes of a creaky Third World nation: corruption, poverty, health problems, miserable public services. And that is vastly preferable to what came before.

Indeed it is!

Read the whole thing here.

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