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Civil Rights Before Elections

Reader comment on item: A Strongman for Iraq?

Submitted by David Jacob (United States), Apr 28, 2003 at 17:29

Thanks again, Dr. Pipes, for another brilliant article. Your competency in good thought-provoking, critical analysis is always much appreciated. Your sentence, which I quote back to you, truly defines the core values for democracy to establish a foothold--and must be the first step:

"The infrastructure of a civil society - such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, the rule of law, minority rights and an independent judiciary - needs to be established before holding elections." I agree wholeheartedly!

Elections, parliaments, political parties are merely the processes that follow after these core values are fully internalized and embraced by the Iraqis. Too often we see elections in autocratic societies as one-time events, parliaments are rubber stamps for a dictator's edicts and judiciaries are propaganda instruments for the leadership.

Your other vital sentence, "Who should fill the all-important role of strongman? The ideal candidate would be politically moderate but operationally tough; someone with an ambition to steer Iraq toward democracy and good neighborly relations." This is a major challenge and a tough nut to crack. Does a "politically moderate but operationally tough" candidate exist? Where would we find the Iraqi equivalent of Atatürk? And how would we promote such a candidate without the Iraqis impugning him as a US puppet? I remain skeptical but I hope I am wrong.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
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