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Thursday, 15 December 2005

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While agreeing with the majority of your post regarding Iraq, and the problems of any 'fledgling' democracy, I find myself disagreeing with your hopefully pessimistic conclusions regarding the survival of the democratic process in that unhappy country.

Problem is, as far as this commentator sees the world, the overwhelming support within Iraq for the tenets of Islam, a religion which of itself views the rest of the world as unbelievers who are either to be 'converted' or subject to the same swift end as the inhabitants of the Twin Towers is the huge hurdle which the Iraqis must overcome!

Viewing a typical Islamic website, and the total dependence of Muslims on their mullahs for advice and stricture on the smallest details of their life do not bode well for any body which will be formed by people who cling to this religion! When a subscriber to the website asks for advice on a problem such as the ability of a widow to transport her young child to a hospital while having no close male relative to attend her, and the 'fatwa', or advice given is that she should rather leave her child to suffer, than break a rule of her religion, what wider perspective is opened to the average Westerner, whose sole thought would have been how to get the bloody car out of the garage!

For further reading on this topic, I would point to the loving thoughts recently published by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who kindly consigned all of Israel, and it's Jewish population, to the fires of damnation; just in passing, as it were! Any outfit which clings to beliefs such as those of the Iranian President doesn't stand very high in the tables of Democratic Thought!

Thanks for your comment, 'Genghis', oddly enough I have just tacked your title on to my 'favourites' list of blogs. Haven't had a chance to read you in detail but I soon will.

As to the point you make, it does seem to me to be a chicken-and-egg situation. The people, I am sure, understand and appreciate the symbolism of voting but unfortunately they are likely to vote for the religious parties whose leaders are very definitely not well disposed to democratic choices. However, what makes this situation in Iraq so fascinating is the 3-way divide in the country in which it is essential that no one section has total power. The Kurds would dearly love to have independence but know that the Turks would squash them flat; the Shias would like to keep all their oil revenues and rule the roost but if Iraq breaks up they could find themselves as just a satellite of Iran with whom they share their religion but not their race. They might decide that it is better to keep the Sunnis on board rather than fall under total dominance from Tehran. The Sunnis, of course, have little in the way of oil revenues but if they allow the break-up of the country they will have zilch! So, there are magnetic as well as centrifugal forces operating and a 'modus vivendi' is possible, but of course, being Arabs, it will take them ever and a day to haggle out a deal. Even so, there is just a chance that a system of self-interested and thus self-imposed tri-partite government, plus the habit of holding elections (a habit the Iraqis have become used to in the last two years) might *just* take hold and last long enough for notions of democracy to take root. I wouldn't bet the deeds of the house on it, of course, but one can hope!

Just a final thought, I think it is imperative that coalition forces begin to pull out sooner rather than later. This will concentrate the minds of Iraqi pols wonderfully, and stop them living in the luxoury of being able to blame everything on the Yanks and/or the Brits.

David/Genghis

Back about 1968 when the Baathist party came to power Iraq was where Singapore South Korea and the other East Asian super economies were. It was ready for take off - even without oil money. Of course the Batathist polices and Sadam’s program of personal glory destroyed that possibility. But the basic underlying factors are still there, with an end to the insurgency some reasonable polices the place could take off.

One of the polls I saw was asking the Iraqi’s about mosque attendance. Forty percent of the males attend the Mosque of their choice every Friday. I think that while every one in good faith says they are Moslem, being Sunni or Shia is more a cultural division than religious. Assuming a more conventional state with other sources of authority gets in place the power of the Imman’s to direct activities outside the religious area should be less than is supposed.

I have theory. Virtually every country since WWII has alleged to be democratic. In some cases such as Sadam’s Iraq this is a joke. But in claiming to be democratic they are running a school that is teaching an ideal of what a democracy should be. That the country is not a democracy defeats the legitimacy with their own population that they are trying to obtain by claiming to be democratic. But when the regime is gone the ideal remains, it is not like bringing an unknown concept to a bewildered crowd.

I think there is better basis for a democracy taking hold than is commonly given in some quarters. I hope events prove this theory.

You touch upon a key point, Hank, in mentioning the absolutely crucial importance of a sustained period of economic growth. The Iraqis appear to be a very intelligent and industrious people. With their oil money as a base and a tripartite government unable to intefere too much, they could be clear for take off. Even so, never under-estimate what I might call, the Nietzschean, nihilism of some of those Muslim fanatics who would prefer to bring everything down in the name of dogma.

Hi Dave. I hope you're having a lovely Christmas.

It's nice to see you've found a soul-mate in 'genghis'. I am curious, though - why are you happy to link to someone who names themself after a mass murderer? Is it hypocrisy, or just your normal forgetfulness, at work?

Nice one, 'N.I.B.'! I will accept the accusation of hypocrisy and thank you for being my acting, unpaid conscience. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Unpaid? The invoice is in the post.

You take cheques, I assume!

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