Monday, April 26, 2010

Growing Pains or Evidence of Failure?

The recent disqualification of candidates in Iraqi elections raises some serious questions about whether their government can maintain legitimacy, especially because it favors the ruling party. Only time will tell which way this goes, it's reason to be skeptical of a favorable outcome but at the same time Iraq has also come a long way from where it was soon after Saddam was ousted. I was very skeptical of the prospects of being able to establish real democracy there, while I initially supported the war I believed this goal was for public consumption, I never really thought there would be a chance of real democracy without significant violence.

Of course, since that significant violence* has happened, I do think there is some possibility that democracy has a chance, though I still believe we will be very disappointed by the nature of that democracy. If I had to bet, I'd say this would be a sign of things to come, a shaky democracy where elections matter but the final say is through opaque maneuvers that make a mockery of the idea of transparency and fair elections. Still better than what came before but not a radical transformation of the mid-east.

* I don't want to delve too much into theory, but I am very skeptical of the entire genre of writing that focuses on peaceful means for the creation of the state, national identity, and ultimately democracy. While a lot of this literature is very good, I believe it only functions where there have already been very significant disruptions, almost always violent in nature, to break down traditional identities and loyalties that would otherwise prevent rationalization of political identity, either into a proper nation-state or into a democracy. This may have happened in Iraq which makes me believe there is a possibility for democracy there, it makes me skeptical this would be exportable without similar disruptions elsewhere (though there are possibilities in Iran). I also want to state outright that I think this method of development is not worth the cost, it's better to be patient and let things evolve on other pathways.

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