Wednesday, April 27, 2005
The Iraqis sure do have a lot to learn about democracy. Imagine how much we could teach them...
Losing Ground in IraqImagine that. How can the Iraqis live with themselves? It would be like - oh, say, the President of the United States primarily appointing cronies from his home state or from his former industry to most of the important positions, or like a major American political party being overwhelmingly dominated by representatives from just one region of a vast and differentiated country. And that's just so undemocratic - even anti-democratic - that we would never tolerate it here, would we?
The biggest danger now comes from militant religious leaders of Iraq's long-oppressed Shiite majority who seek to impose their own intolerant rule on Sunni Arabs, Kurds and secular Shiites. There have been particularly disturbing calls in recent weeks from leaders of the main Shiite political bloc for a far-reaching purge of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from all government, military and intelligence posts. That would be an injustice for the many Iraqis who joined the party just to keep their jobs, and would further estrange an already deeply alienated Sunni community. Even worse, many Iraqis suspect the real purpose is to open top jobs in the army, police and intelligence services for militia leaders allied with victorious Shiite religious parties.
Sunni underrepresentation needs to be directly addressed as well. Only by bringing genuinely representative Sunnis into the new government will there be any chance of damping down the Sunni insurgency to the point where serious reconstruction can begin. Credible Sunnis need to be appointed not just to significant posts in the new cabinet, but also to key committees drafting the new constitution. They should also be given a fair share of jobs at all levels in the new security forces.
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