Tuesday, April 27, 2004

No security, no democracy

A Sanford Professor, initially an opponent of the war, does the right thing when it's over and joins the effort at nation-building. He was where anyone should be who cares about the future of the world right now: in Iraq, making the most of this opportunity.

"It was mind-blowing, really. There were people who wanted to know how to make democracy work. There were so many positive signs. Civil society was very weak, as you'd expect, but it was beginning to reconstitute itself. There was a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a lot of creativity and a lot of desire to learn. I even had a good experience with some mullahs who supported us."

But with time and the rise of an insurgency, the realization sank in.

"You can't develop democracy without security. In Iraq, it's really a security nightmare that did not have to be. If you don't get that right, nothing else is possible. Everything else is connected to that."

Larry Diamond on Iraq.

Many Iraqis I read are saying much the same thing, or proving it without saying it. Ths is not an Iraqi problem: it is a human one. When the thugs run wild in your streets, you're not much concerned with their rights.

George W. Bush let us down. He let down the Iraqis, by listening to those in his administration who told him this could be done quickly, on the cheap, with a small army. They proved the point of being able to topple a potent dictator with an absurdly small force. But this is the price, and it's too high.

The answer is more troops in Iraq, not fewer; more committment, not less; more time and patience, not a quick-time "exit strategy." Which is why I don't yet see Kerry as a viable alternative.