The Corner

One Cheer For Democracy

Another very thoughtful WashPost editorial, this one making the point that “democracy” can be a problem when nation-building. The Post points to the experience in Bosnia as a lesson for post-war Iraq:

“The Bosnia experience offers some support for this more muscular postwar scheme. Paddy Ashdown, the veteran British politician and statesman who is now the high representative in Bosnia, has pointed out that the repeated elections in that country have sometimes impeded rather than advanced the progress of desperately needed economic and political reforms. Most of the important changes in the country, from guarantees for returning refugees to the purging of criminals from government, have happened on the orders of Mr. Ashdown and his predecessors. And further progress is unlikely unless Western governments tightly condition continued aid on concrete steps by the Bosnians. In short, while democracy should be a central aim of postwar nation-building, it cannot necessarily be the starting point — and even if it is, a strong outside authority is essential.”

So conservative should be very careful about loosely talking about “democracy” in post-war Iraq. Pluralism, yes. Reform, yes. One man, one vote—get back to us in a decade or so.

Conservatives should also be willing to acknowledge the very strong chance that the Iraqi opposition is a bunch of bozos.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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