By their actions- or lack thereof- Iraqis will in the end, clearly define themselves and the kind of nation they want for themselves. If they will not act in their own best interests, we cannot force democracy where it is clearly not valued.
If democracy is of little value to the Iraqis, we need to leave. That will result in tragedy and great suffering, of course, but the blood of Americans and coalition forces cannot continue to be used to purchase democracy for Iraq.
The people of Eastern Europe did not need to be convinced of the merits of free societies over tyrannies. We must be prepared to face the reality that much of the Arab world will remain backward for a very long time, incapable of understanding how free governments are always better than oppressive ones. While there is nothing we can do about that, we can hope that the next generation, or the one after that, will see more clearly.
The tragedy is that yet another generation of Arabs will be lost to dysfunction and neglect. The greater tragedy is that most of them don’t even know it. That said, we must always remind them that America and the free world will be there for them when they call.
Then in his next post he goes on:
We are not submitting that the goals of this administration are flawed. As we have noted, they are not. The real issue is whether or not the Iraqis are even capable of digesting democracy. When allied troops liberated the Nazi death camps in 1945, it became clear almost immediately that over feeding the wretched starving and emaciated inmates was a death sentence. After the horrors they had survived, it became clear they needed to be nursed back to health, slowly. Notwithstanding the instincts of every allied soldier to to give up all their own rations to alleviate the suffering if these walking skeletons, that would only have exacerbated the situation.
It is the same in Iraq. It has become clear that notwithstanding the feast that is democracy, the Iraqis might simply be unable to digest the richness. After decades of deprivation and oppression, it is quite clear- and understandable- that they are stil too timid and weak to stand up for themselves. That may change in decades or it may change in a few months- we do not know. No one does- and only a fool bets on a lame horse. Simply stated, the Iraqis are not yet ready for prime time.
Indeed, all of the above is why I find this post at The Belmont Club about a federal Iraq rather interesting.
We must not ignore the reality that some--actually many--of the power players in Iraq do not share our democratic values, however much simpler that would make things. We do already know that the Kurds have taken the democracy ball and run with it (and are doing very well, thank you very much). They have been successful because the U.S. was able to give them breathing space from oppression so that they could develop the necessary institutions for a free society. They have done smashingly well over the last decade, and indeed have become "the other Iraq"--the one we don't hear much about in the news.
I can't say whether federalism would be a good thing or not in the long-run for all of Iraq; but the idea, as Wretchard reminds us, is not a new one; but is already a part of the Iraqi constitution as ratified in 2005. That means that there may be ways around the current situation in Baghdad that involve giving more autonomy to provinces joined together into regions that would hold considerable self-rule powers, as in Kurdistan.
Baghdad with Sadr's Shia militia and the Sunnis and all the outside terrorists would remain the not-ready-for-prime-time-players while other areas of the country could possibly follow the lead of Kurdistan.