The Corner

Disillusions

Still catching up, I just read the new editorial from NRODT, “An End to Illusion.” A marvelous piece of analysis and writing, the editorial is tightly-reasoned and—an element lacking in much commentary over the last couple of weeks—calm. A couple of sentences:

“Even if the administration had avoided…mistakes…it is still possible Iraq would be very messy. But this concession points to an intellectual mistake made prior to the occupation: an underestimation in general of the difficulty of implanting democracy in alien soil, and an overestimation in particular of the sophistication of what is fundamentally still a tribal society and one devastated by decades of tyranny.”

As my Hoover colleague Tom Sowell said over lunch a couple of weeks ago (I made notes afterwards rather than during lunch itself, but this is a close paraphrase): “Don’t they [the members of the Bush administration] realize how many centuries it took to establish democracy in Europe? And now we’re supposed to establish democracy in Iraq? On a timetable?”

A democracy in Iraq would be splendid, of course. But since in all history the Arab world has seen exactly one democracy, that of Lebanon, which lasted only from the 1940s to the 1970s, it would represent a high achievement if we could merely ensure that Iraq proved, on the whole, peaceable and prosperous, becoming, as Mark Steyn has put it, “the least badly–governed Arab country.”

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