Saturday, January 29, 2005

A long journey ahead

Amir Taheri didn't wait until after the Iraqi election to begin looking ahead to the problems Iraqis will have to solve as they experience self-government first hand.

In "Issues that concern Iraqis," he begins with a theory that the insurgents and terrorists have actually done Iraq a favor:

The violence unleashed by the insurgency has concentrated most minds on a single issue: Security. It has brought together communities and political parties that would otherwise be fighting one another over faith, ideology, and economic interest.

He goes on:

[T]he new Parliament is likely to have heated debates about how to quell the insurgents and their terrorist allies. For the time being, however, the terrorist campaign has united Iraqis in a quest for democracy as the only means of keeping the nation together while preventing the return of despotism in any form.

He then points to the myriad of issues with which the transitional government will have to deal, including: separation of mosque and state, federalism, market economy v. welfare state, forgiveness of former Baathists or revenge against them, dividing up oil revenue, the presence of foreign forces, the role of women, and foreign policy.

He concludes:

With tomorrow’s election Iraq’s real political problems, pushed by onto the backburner by the insurgency, will begin to move center-stage. Building a new pluralist Iraq remains a difficult task, but one that is certainly worth working and fighting for.

Though the security of Iraq is certainly far from certain right now, Teheri is right to look to the future. As for the difficulty of resolving issues in a non-violent manner, it will definitely take time, but Iraqis have experienced much violence, and I doubt that they'll be interested in a return to the good 'ole days.