Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Good News

Some good news from Iraq. America’s occupation of Iraq has planted a small seed of democracy in the middle east. The three elections in 2005 created an opening for introducing political skills and ideas into Iraq. Various organizations provided training and funding for numerous political parties and elections personnel. Iraqis learned organizing and communications skills needed effective modern campaigning. Regardless of the electoral results (weak government, a polarizing constitution), these skills and ideas are now part of the political and intellectual mix in Iraq. Like adding pepper to brownie ingredients, they will always have some presence. My enduring hope is that Iraqis will use these skills to reconcile their differences and control of their own future to the benefit of all. That would be good news.

Like all seeds, however, this one may not bear fruit. The training and assistance small effort in a vast, complex environment. History, religion, ethnicity and geography are massively influential in Iraq; these forces intersect in ways that Americans do not understand and affect only indirectly. The skills are morally and politically neutral; they can be used to any end or cause. In 2005 Iraqis saw their society fragmented by factional leaders; what organizing took place seemed to have hastened rather than slowed the process. Thus, the good news is iffy.

Still, I like to think that training Iraqis to mobilize and organize on their own is a positive contribution. Iraqis have had few such opportunities in their modern history. Without self-determination, freedom and liberty are just words. I am also sufficiently realistic to know that freedom and liberty, as I understand them, have no assured future in Iraq. Not yet. That’s where hope comes in.


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