Tuesday, December 16, 2003
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Iraq after Hussein
Adeed Dawisha, a native Iraqi who teaches political science at Miami
He also has a forthcoming article in the January 2004 Journal of Democracy on the prospects for a democratic Iraq. Read the whole article, but here are some highlights, both good and bad:
Go and give it a read. Dawisha is hardly Panglossian -- he just looks that way after you read Juan Cole for a while.
UPDATE: Dawisha is also quoted at length in this Peter Bronson column in the Cincinatti Enquirer. The highlight:
posted by Dan on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM
Congrats to Mr. Dawisha, as he clearly 'gets' the big picture of democratic movements: Ownership.
Cop-killer as civil hero? One can see how that can be construed.
Killing Officer Abdul Al-Nisra, who's kid goes to school with my kid and who ran-off the looter from *MY* property yesterday; and shooting up the local town hall that I helped build last weekend?
In the Macro sense, the democratic 'meme' wins out for the same reason private space typically looks better than public space the world over: Whether it's property or process, ownership works.posted by: Art Wellesley on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM [permalink]
Thanks for bringing this article and journal to our attention. I hope it is read widely, though I have serious doubts about that. Minds are pretty closed to new information that does not support one's presuppositions. For example, yesterday I was listening to NPR (bad habit) and an "expert" on the Middle East from Congressional Quarterly starts mouthing off about how "tribal leaders" in Iraq are sure to fight democratization as a threat to their power base. You're a political scientist, that make sense to you? In my historical research I have seen far more adaptation and cooptation of new "democratic" structures by old elites than the reverse (at least in the early stages of liberalization). When one realizes that it is not just bad information but bad presuppositions that we are up against, it does make for some serious heartburn.posted by: Kelli on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM [permalink]
A very useful overview.
The Shia leadership seem to be playing an excellent long game - avoiding confrontation with the US or other Iraqi groups, keeping out the of insurgency, filling the power vacuum from the bottom up, generally not embarrassing Uncle Sam.
But I suspect you can't take the fact they're managing to beat the stereotypes and play it cool as an indication that they won't eventually act to take charge of their own destiny. As Paul Wolfowitz should understand, it seems...posted by: John Smith on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM [permalink]
Fine note -- and especially about the neighborhood councils. In fact, the US should assist the local councils that are elected, with local council municipal bonds. Immediately. Loans to democratic groups.
So that the local councils have more monetary resources to solve their most pressing local problems -- and start the difficult process of satisfying excessive demands with limited budgets.
I hope he's right in 2005!posted by: Tom Grey on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM [permalink]
I have heard Dawisha interviewed on local radio here in Ohio. He sounds like a very sensible and realistic guy.posted by: Robert Schwartz on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM [permalink]
a comment on Mr Dawisha's piece: nowhere in Iraq are local councils fully elected. Everywhere, they are very heavily dependent for money and support on Coalition civilians and military. This does not mean that they have not been critical of US/UK activities. But councils need a lot of work to become more representative, effective and, eventually democratic. As good as their relation with coalition personnel often is, it is equally bad with the local administration, in which allegedly lots of Ba'thists (surprise?) still work.posted by: Christoph Wilcke on 12.16.03 at 11:47 PM [permalink]
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