Hit & Run

You Doubt an Iraqi Democracy? Look Again


The most worn line heard whenever someone mentions the possibility of an Iraqi democracy is that, well, democracy takes time. Usually the argument is merely designed to discredit the U.S. war in Iraq (though the Bush administration has itself now moved a long way toward withdrawing from its initial democratic project).

Middle East scholar Eric Davis, of Rutgers University, has a different perspective about the possibility of democracy in Iraq:

In the struggle to create a participatory and tolerant political culture, few observers have called attention to a powerful weapon in the arsenal of any government that seeks to bring democracy to Iraq. This weapon is the historical memory of the Iraqi nationalist movement that took shape before World War I … Early on, the Iraqi nationalist movement manifested important characteristics, namely inter-ethnic group cooperation, tolerance of cultural difference, support for a secular definition of Iraqi political community and a commitment to norms of social justice …

Now, all we need is someone to convince the retreating administration.