April 4, 2004

Does a People Have to Worthy of Democracy to Recieve It?

Except from a fascinating email from a person in Baghdad working for the transition to democracy, as reproduced by the recipient at The Belgravia Dispatch

"Of course I know what federalism means," the cleric scoffed, "it comes from the Greek root meaning unitary state." Unclear on the precise etymology myself, I let this slide, and tried to get back to the principle of our discussion. So it's a good thing, I prompted, don't you think? The room erupted again into unhappy murmers, and he stared back at me with a stony look that let me know I'd missed the apparently classic Arab double-entendre. Oh, I continued as if I'd just stumbled on the actual meaning of the word, you mean it's actually a backroom deal, reached conspiratorally, that ensures a tyranny of the minority? His face lit up and his eyes warmed considerably. The growing roar of murmers ebbed back to silence, broken only by the angry footsteps of a Kurdish participant who got up and left. Things were going badly--I should have guessed this by my translator's increasing nervousness and the growing visibility of our plainclothes security staff around the exits of an otherwise sleepy Baghdad auditorium--but I pressed on. Can it really mean both things? Why don't you just tell me what you really think? An impolitic question, sometimes, in the New Iraq.

Old men here can be generous. Younger ones can be less so. A fiery youth cut to the chase: "why do I need your democracy when I have other options?" he shouted.

Posted by Vanderleun at April 4, 2004 3:49 PM | TrackBack
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