The Iraqi elections are just four days off, so here are some concluding thoughts on this event:
I heartily endorse the U.S. government's goal of making Iraq a democracy. But I worry about the timetable to attain it. I expect that the elections to be held on Jan. 30, 2005, are premature and will set democracy back more than forward it.
Before they take place, the country needs to learn the habits of democracy and civil society – the rule of law, minority rights, voluntary associations, loyal opposition, and so on. Elections should begin with the legislative branch and at the municipal level. The interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, should be given a chance to take control of the country before ethnic and other fissures can rear their heads. Shi‘is need to get used to participating in power or else the tyranny of the majority looms as a real danger.
In all, I see this as a classic instance of American impatience. It's been a mere 22 months since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; elections for chief of government should take place more like 22 years later. (January 26, 2005)