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Abracadabra democracy

By Slater Bakhtavar
web posted May 8, 2006

We as Americans possess an ingrained cultural impatience that is a source of both our greatness and many of our ills. The latter example is how this impatience is unfortunately commanding our view of democracy's prospects in Iraq. Our antsy outlook is unfortunate, as history has proven that the evolution of modern democracies require patience and perseverance.

After the devastation of World War II it took Germany and Japan many years to evolve into modern democracies with powerhouse economies. As late as ten years after the establishment of a democratic government in Germany Sigmund Neumann wrote, "National socialism may be dead. … yet democracy has failed to fill the spiritual vacuum." Still, historical realists knew that the evolution of a modern democratic nation required endurance and long term sacrifice. They also knew that every nation will have an independent form of democratic government different from the Republic of the United States.

It's true that the situation in Iraq isn't perfect, but it's also not a miserable failure on the brink of civil war. The prospect of a civil war is not implausible, but it's certainly not imminent. Under the worst circumstances even if a civil war were to transpire it would be a part of the evolutionary process that would have to be resolved by the Iraqis. We shouldn't forget that it cost our own nation over six hundred thousand lives and a multitude of other struggles to consummate our modern democratic Republic. Yet many expect a country formed in the 1920's and ruled by uncivilized dictators to form a modern democratic government without flaw or struggle.

Part of the problem is the mainstream media. With their daily buffet of negative reporting dramatizing every single suicide bombing, parliamentary infighting, and infrastructural shortcoming they've managed to portray the Iraq war as a miserable failure. The mainstream media as a general rule reports negative news or otherwise "shock news" to gain higher ratings.

Unfortunately, this negative reporting leads to an unfair balance between reality and fantasy with the latter prevailing. This form of shock reporting begets a naive public that will support unwise policies at the ballot boxes and in public opinion. The truth is that there are many positive things happening in Iraq, but unfortunately in order to receive this information the general public has to seek out blogs like Good News in Iraq and news forums like FreeRepublic.

According to a blog called Good News from the Front, Ambassador Daniel Speckhard, U.S. Director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, recently spoke of the economic progress in Iraq.

"Iraq's per capita income had fallen from around $4,200 per person in 1980, which at the time was higher than Spain, to $500 per person in March 2003," he said. Today it stands at $1,200 - 'a significant advancement in a very short time,' Speckhard said. He also pointed out that Iraq now has a free press, more than 2,000 Internet cafes, and more than 5 million cell phone users - up from virtually zero in 2003. All of these things help connect Iraq to the outside world 'in ways that it never was before, providing freedom and opportunities for Iraqi citizens. "In addition, more than 30,000 Iraqi businesses have been registered in the past year alone."

Besides the above mentioned progress, forty seven countries have established embassies in Iraq. Three thousand one hundred schools have been renovated, three hundred sixty three schools are now being built, fifty-five thousand Iraqi Police have been fully trained, seventy five radio stations have been established, and finally one hundred eighty newspapers and ten independent television stations have evolved. All of this progress shows with force that modern democracy is inevitable in Iraq.

Antagonists may claim that the ongoing insurgency points to the contrary.

While it does indicate the deep cleavage between Iraqi religious, cultural, and ethnic groups, as well as interference by foreign terrorists, by no means does it mean the failure of a modern democracy in the Middle Eastern nation. The terrorists have failed to disrupt democratic procedures, thereby marginalizing themselves as a futile effort against the landscape of progressive modernization. Establishing modern democracy in Iraq will take time and perseverance, but in the end economic, social and political progress in Iraq will stamp the achievements of democracy, offering every Iraqi citizen a peaceful and prosperous future. That's the magic of patience and the axiom that there is nothing abracadabra about building a proud modern democratic nation.

(c) 2006 Slater Bakhtavar

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