Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Dictators and Democracy: I second your point about "transitional" governance. Yes, Iraq will need a dictator for awhile. One of our boys would be preferable, at first. Going from Saddam to democracy in 5.4 seconds will involve a horrific strain, particularly after we bomb the infrastructure to flinders. (Afghanistan offers an interesting model. Hamid Karzai holds a strong presidency, but his mandate is for free elections and building a parliamentary regime that would vest power more in a prime minister. His job, then, is to phase out his own dictatorial powers on the way.) It will be interesting to watch, since centralized power tempts the finest among us. The nice thing is that, by all accounts, the Kurds are not too restless. They already have a proto-democracy in the north that, if nothing else, has tamped down the nationalistic urges lately. In the end, though, Iraq needs to be a functioning republic, or the nationalism will arise again. A coalition-style parliament might too easily create a destructive factionalism. I wonder, at times, why more emerging democracies don't choose an American-style federalism. It seems to strike a nice balance of local and central control, and in a sense it reduces the kind of splintering effect that makes every ethnic sub-group feel like they need their own political party.

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