Hi Gary. My name's Jack, I'm the only son of the listowner. Since I advised him in writing the post you are responding to (I'm his history advisor), I was interested in your reply and decided to respond.
Gerald Smith wrote:
That's somewhat of a fallacious generalization, John. Yes, it is difficult and it takes time. But you know what, in business management terms, we see change as requiring time.
<snip business analogy>
This is interesting info, Gary, but I doubt that it applies to this discussion.
Although business traditions are mercurial, cultural traditions tend to strengthen
exponentially from generation to generation. The hand that rocks the cradle, etc.
I find it highly doubtful that these traditions can be changed in a few years.
Why didn't the Iraqis rise and destroy Saddam of their own accord? Because as a people, they were willing to resign themselves to his rule. They have been resigning themselves to autocrats for a long, long time.
<snip>... Japan and South Korea are awesome democracies (non-English speaking) that have learned the values of freedom over a period of less than 50 years.
We forced a democratic constitution upon Japan, literally at gunpoint,
which they are already contemplating abandoning. Even now, the Japanese are
happy to live with a degree of regimentation and control far beyond what we would
find acceptable. Politics in Japan are not a populist exercise. Although they do vote,
the Japanese people allow most of their politics to be decided behind closed
doors. And I should add I'm basing this from mainstream sources, like
Newsweek and U.S News & World Report - not fringe publications like the
It might take Iraq 40-50 years to switch over to a strong democracy. So what? It means our grandchildren's children will live in a world with one more free nation that isn't run by radical kooks.
Are you willing to occupy Iraq for 40-50 years, no matter the cost in lives and dollars? Because that's the only way I can see of achieving our goals. Even then, it would be impossible unless the Iraqis chose to change.
Besides, are there _any_ Islamic nations that are not run by radical kooks? Was Saddam alone in persecuting the Kurds? Didn't the president of Maylasia recently release a diatribe against the vast Jewish conspiracy controlling the west? Did not Syria, Jordan and Egypt attempt to exterminate Israel only 31 years ago (supported by Saudi Arabia, I might add)? How does Saudi Arabia stand on human rights? How wide is suffrage in the Islamic world?
Although it is true that Iraq may eventually switch over to a strong democracy, this will only result after a genuine, grassroots cultural shift. Such a shift has to come from within; our meddling can only hurt, not help such a process. A brief invasion will solve nothing.
Cultures can change. It takes time. But I have a long term view of these things. I'm glad our forefathers also had such a long term vision, otherwise they might have given up at Valley Forge or when the Articles of Confederation failed.
The heroes of the American Revolution were scions of a rich democratic tradition. The people of Iraq are inheritors of a factional, authoritarian tradition that we cannot hope to change by force.
=== "It's not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day." - Homer Simpson
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