Economist Editorial

December 22, 2003

Today's editorial from the Economist is good stuff. It reminds me of why I used to take that magazine (I stopped when I decided I was spending too much time reading the news. )

The editorial praises the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, discusses Hussein's career from the perspective of international actors who aided or supported him, then shifts to talk about the prospects for Democracy in Iraw.

Key paragraphs:

Mr Bush has made matters worse by continuing to portray Iraq as part and parcel of the war against al-Qaeda. Although this simplification may play in Peoria (not to mention in the presidential election), it is wrong. Yes, Saddam terrorised his people and his neighbours. But to lump all America's enemies together as “terrorists” is to play with words and, worse, to risk making a muddle of policy. Osama bin Laden is a religious fanatic with an apocalyptic vision of permanent Islamic war against the infidel. Saddam is a secular Arab nationalist who had a rational if reckless dream of acquiring super-weapons and dominating the world's oil reserves. Saddam had to be stopped, but his defeat has not necessarily hastened the defeat of al-Qaeda, and might even make victory harder if it continues to stoke up Muslim rage against the West.

What happens next will not be shaped by the Americans alone. Much also depends on what Iraq itself is capable of. Thanks to the long reign of Mr Hussein, nobody really knows what that may be. It is far from certain that it can even remain one country, let alone grow into the sort of liberal democracy the Americans hope to make of it.

Iraq is one of the awkwarder creations of colonialism. ... And this is the wreckage upon which America now proposes to erect a beacon of hope for the other Arabs. Why expect the first Arab democracy to arise in Iraq, of all places?

The answer is simple. Accident. Democracy has a chance in Iraq because the repeated miscalculations of its dictator resulted in his forcible removal by a superpower which, unlike the departing imperialists of the 20th century, dares not impose any other system. The Americans may not succeed, but now that they are there they are duty-bound to try.

I continue to dislike and distrust GWB and his political advisors. They did a good deed under false pretenses. They have espoused a foriegn policy that is inconsistent, incoherent, and dangerous. However, they have also placed the nation in a situation where we are "duty-bound to try" to create democracy in Iraq. Are they the best people to do this? I doubt it. What worries me is that GWB may be better equipped to build democracy in Iraq than are some of the Democratic candidates, and that the Democrats who are better equipped to conduct a coherent foreign policy may not get chosen as nominees.

And so to turn in grades.

Posted by Red Ted at December 22, 2003 01:41 AM | TrackBack