Friday, February 20, 2004

Could America's Democracy Work For Iraqis?

After I posted What Iraqis want? a week ago, I received many e-mails for more discussions. I prefer not to have a comments section on my blog. This way I have more personal discussions with my readers.

I would like to share an e-mail from an American reader. American readers are familiar with the subject matter since they live in this country. Non-Americans, who have little knowledge of how the United States runs itself, could benefit most from reading my reader's opinion.
You don't have to agree with everything written in this e-mail. We all want the best for Iraq. This is why I appreciate everyone's opinion. I know the American people, whether they were for or against war in Iraq, want to see Iraq as a better place. They want to see it as a model of democracy in the Middle East.

Here's the e-mail:

I did like your analogy of the son and his family wanting to leave the parents' house. Being an American, I may be somewhat prejudice towards our type of government so I began to think about prime ministers, parliaments, councils and such. I don't believe it matters if you have a parliament, houses, senates, congresses, or councils as long as they are honestly elected by the people. However, there is one aspect to the governmental blueprint that I think would be very important. This addresses Kurdo's latest post concerning the Kurds' desire for an independent state and also addresses the Sunni/Shia potential power struggle.

I believe Iraq needs to be divided either into states, provinces, parishes or whatever you would like to call them. Iraq is very diverse like America, yet not quite as diverse. Here is how the American government structure permits it to excel in handling diversity masterfully.

There are some parallels between Iraq's ethnic/religious/political groups and America's ethnic/religious/political groups. I think I'll start with a few examples.

First, religion. This topic seems to divide people more than anything. Utah has a large Mormon population. Utah's constitution/laws reflect this fact (i.e. their laws are more strict and conservative).

Ethnicity...States that share the border with Mexico (you reside in one) tend to have laws that are more relaxed concerning illegal Mexican immigrants. Ethnicity usually is tied to religion somewhat.

Politics....I'll use conservative/liberalism as an example. Most people who reside on the coasts and in the cities primarily are liberal thinkers. The people who live in rural areas and in Middle America are primarily conservative thinkers. The laws in these states reflect this (one example look at the states that have capital punishment for murder and those who don't). Capital punishment is a pro-conservative issue and conservative states have ratified capital punishment as law.

I believe that you know where I am going with these examples.

America has a constitution but the flexibility that handles the diversity is that each state also has a constitution that is somewhat independent from the national constitution and the state constitution therefore can be molded to fit its people specifically. Because of geographical and religious issues, states can mold their laws to fit the needs of their people. If Iraq were divided into provinces according to geographical and ethnic boundaries, and the provinces had individual constitutions governing its people, I believe the ethnic and religious needs of the people can be fulfilled. The states with higher populations of Kurds, their constitution/laws would favor the opinions of the Kurds and reflect the views of the Kurds due to more Kurds going to the polls to vote pro-Kurd.

Another issue concerning Iraq that I talked about in depth with my best friend who returned from Iraq on Christmas Day after training IP in Baghdad. I think the opinions of the Kurds reinforce my view that Iraqis are too impatient. I believe that after being oppressed for so long and then having absolute freedom, the Iraqis see the powerful Americans and Coalition as being a magician fixing all of Iraq's problems overnight. I hope Iraqis will see that this type of government is an evolution. I like to think of democracy as a fig tree (or a fruit tree for I don't know much about fig or date trees), they take few years of growth before bearing fruit.

This is a little aside I would like to share with you that gives me as an America the belief that Iraq will prosper and be successful in their democratic experiment. My best friend has recently returned from Baghdad after training the IP at various locations throughout Baghdad. He said something that kind of made me think twice. My friend Kevin said," I feel guilty about coming home. I feel I did not complete my mission and I feel the Iraqi people need us." My friend lost two very good friends while in Iraq. Yet he told me he would like to go back! To waive the nice and safe USA for Iraq.....Made me wonder. Later that night I realized I would feel the same way. I also believe America feels the same way. America truly cares. I see it everywhere!

Hopefully, Iraqis can see bright skies in their future. We all need to be patient. Rebuilding Iraq is not a road trip. It's a long journey that may take a long time. If Iraqis travel on the right roads, they could reach their destination. They should not be afraid anymore.

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