Essays On Democracy In Iraq

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These founding elections teach political actors to channel their energies into vote-getting, rather than into more polarizing or destructive styles of participation.

The initial role of conducting and overseeing elections should rightly fall to foreigners, but eventually the task must be turned over to Iraqis.

In developing countries, presidential systems tend to concentrate too much power in the hands of one individual, who may then be tempted to ride roughshod over other political actors.

Consequently, European-style parliamentary systems are more likely to survive than those that rely on a directly elected chief executive.

We argue that Iraq is unlikely to sustain democratic institutions, even given protracted U. We first measured levels of democracy in 186 different countries on a numerical scale during 1996–2000, using data compiled by Freedom House.

On this scale, countries such as the United States, Sweden, and Costa Rica scored highest (12 out of a possible 12).By contrast, Austria, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Haiti, Japan, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, the Philippines, and South Vietnam clearly experienced more thoroughgoing and protracted occupation. Contrary to what might be expected, the impact of the United States is not particularly impressive.On average, countries in the second category score only about one and a half points higher on the democracy scale than countries that were never occupied.Even if Iraq is unlikely to sustain fully democratic institutions, the degree to which future governments are more or less repressive could vary tremendously.The degree of political openness found in Jordan or Kuwait, for instance, is well worth striving for, even though neither country is a democracy.By contrast, petro-states, countries with mainly Muslim populations, and nations with little cultural affinity for the West all tend to be less democratic.When we consider all the factors discussed above, we find that a country with Iraq’s profile ought to fall somewhere between a zero and a two on the democracy scale. The next logical question, then, is how occupation might affect Iraq’s political prospects.In other words, the countries that became democratic after U. occupation were already much more likely to become so; the countries that failed to become democratic were always unlikely to make the transition. There is, alas, little evidence on which to base a hope that the Anglo-American occupation will dramatically change the prospects for democracy in Iraq.Taking the Right Steps Of course, long odds against democracy should not be an excuse to give up on Iraq altogether.For this reason, Iraq should follow the example of many other democratizing countries by investing state and local governments with real power.Kurds in the north, Sunni Arabs in the center, and Shia Arabs in the south could all be given substantial autonomy within their domains; for the Kurds, in particular, such an arrangement is probably crucial to preventing irredentist rebellion.


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