Sunday, December 14, 2003

Listening to the BBC, I get a disturbingly different view of life in Iraq today than the headlines of the New York Times have described over the last few months. A reporter accompanying acquaintances into the Shiia ruled regions of the country filed a dispatch that implies that the rising religious leaders in much of the country may not be much more open or democratic than Sadaam was.

I have to wonder what the likelihood is that anything lastingly good will come of this war. Will the Ayatollahs of Shiia Iraq be less authoritarian than the rapacious Baath Party that preceded it? Or will they be quite like the hard-line Ayatollahs of Iran, who still suppress democracy there?

Even if this doesn’t come to pass, how will the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiia people of the new and “free” Iraq manage to hold together a nation in which they share few shreds of common identity. Will this be possible without an authoritarian state?

Isn’t the only sane approach to postwar Iraq to ask, no beg the international community to help manage, finance, and support the rebuilding of this country? Don’t we need all the help we can get there?

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