Democratic spectacles

Earlier today, John wrote:

Iraqis who have signed on to the coalition’s project of promoting democracy in that country must be a little bewildered by the spectacle now being created by democratic processes both in the U.S. and the U.K.

John quoted Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, who expressed concern about the pessimistic and defeatist tone of the discussion in the U.S. and, of course, Europe.
John and the Deputy Prime Minister are right. However, I think it’s fair to add that Americans who support the administration’s project of promoting democracy in Iraq are justifiably concerned about the spectacle created by that process there. From what I can tell, the Shiite majority brought to power a government with insufficient commitment to national reconciliation and, indeed, with ties to militias that are at the forefront of the current strife that is destablizing parts of the country.
It is quite understandable that the Shiite majority voted this way. They suffered immensely and endured worse than second-class status under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Not only do they have old scores to settle, but they reasonably fear that forces still exist that would restore the old order.
Nonetheless, by refusing to put that behind them, they have failed to make the leap of faith that may be required to make the coalition project work. And, in this country at least, that helps explain the “democratic spectacle” that worries John and the Deputy Prime Minister.


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