Thursday, May 04, 2006

Looking Back and Looking Forward in Iraq

Reason online magazine has collected together essays by Michael Young, Leon Hadar, and Tom G. Palmer on Iraq's recent past and Iraq today:

Three Views on Iraq, Three Years Later.

Tom G. Palmer, the libertarian of the group, writes:
5. It is hard for people in liberal democracies to understand the mentality of most Iraqis. Iraqis live in a society that was long dominated by lies and propaganda. Rather than the clash of views in a free press, they are accustomed to relying on rumors. With the advent of a free press, that has changed somewhat, and people are less likely to believe everything they hear, but rational discourse is still in limited supply. Many Iraqis are convinced that foreign forces are there to steal their oil (which the world is “stealing” at more than $60 a barrel), that the country is wealthy and only requires a good leader to share that wealth (a refrain I heard from many and which I took great pains to explain was a deadly error; Iraq is not a rich society but a desperately poor one), and so on. Moreover, conspiracy theories are the most common form of political understanding. (That is a problem throughout the Middle East, but it is especially pronounced in Iraq.)

The neoconservative assumption that the default condition when you eliminate a dictatorship is liberal democracy has been shown to be false. It is not the default position of mankind but a rare achievement, one that is often won only at a high price.

Adopting the habit of listening to others, of testing claims against evidence, of comparing different sources of news and information, and the other elements of the Enlightenment mentality is proving very difficult. It is not impossible, but it is harder than many expected.
As I read this, I kept thinking of Baghdad Treasure.

Heh heh.

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Anthony Shadid reports from Dubai.

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Check out this article on Task Force 145 and their operations in Iraq.

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