Jewish World Review June 28, 2004 / 9 Tamuz, 5764
With today's surprise transfer of political authority in Iraq, can a thugocracy take hold?
The next few days will decide if Iraq will be a democracy led by Interim
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, or a thugocracy governed al Qaeda leader Abu
The coordinated attacks across Iraq Thursday and Friday's blasts in Fallujah
are an ominous sign that terrorists were pulling out all the stops in their
effort to derail the handover of sovereignty to Iraqis. These will
not be their last attacks, and they will succeed only if the coalition and
Iraqis allow it by delaying the transfer of power.
If the reaction of the new Iraqi government is any indicator, though, the
handover will succeed. Rather than call for a delay in light of the multiple
attacks and scores of Iraqi deaths Thursday, the new Iraqi government called
for resolve and a renewed effort against those who are attempting to "foil
the democratic process." If his attitude and determination are mirrored
throughout the new government-and among his allies-success is far more
likely than current conditions suggest.
More is at stake than the form of government, however. Under coalition and
Iraqi interim government leadership, many aspects of civil life are
returning to normal-and in many respects, exceeding pre-war levels.
More than $30 billion has been pledged by nations around the world to
improve schools, build roads, restore health care facilities and water
sanitation, modernize agriculture, and ensure a stable flow of electricity
to all areas of Iraq. But without a government to receive them, these funds
will evaporate. If terrorists take charge, the pledges will be voided.
Local funding streams are also dependent upon the creation of a stable
regime. Iraq is currently capable of producing upwards of 2.5 million
barrels of oil daily. Terrorists, however, have consistently attacked both
production and distribution sites. The attacks hurt only the Iraqis, who
benefit from the security and infrastructure the oil revenue provides. With
Iraqis in charge, production will stabilize and grow. The resulting funds
will continue to grow the economy and strengthen the nation. Under terrorist
rule, the funding stream and its benefits will be choked off completely.
In another portent of success, information sources and educational
opportunities are growing at unprecedented levels. Independent news sources,
including newspapers, TV and even talk radio are burgeoning as never before.
These new, secular and independent sources of information are critical to
reforms, and to opportunity.
The dearth of Internet access is key to the growth of repressive regimes.
The Taliban banned its use, Hussein's regime allowed less than full access
for fear of an independently educated populace. However, the increased
access now being afforded in Iraq and the region is critical to stability.
No nation on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism has
an Internet usage rate higher than 10 percent of its population. Conversely,
all free, stable American allies have Internet usage of more than 20
percent. Under Allawi, Internet access and other sources of news will
flourish-even if critical of the government. Under al-Zarqawi, there will be
only one source of news and information. The difference is stark.
Make no mistake, this is the last stand, and the results will impact far
more than local economies and freedoms. If this experiment in democracy
fails, the world will fail the mideast. If this hope for democracy fails,
the genesis of a stable, thriving, self-governing group of Arab nations
fails and no other nation will soon step in to rescue a people from
tyranny, citing the Iraq example as proof that democracy can't sprout in
this fallow land.
There will be more attacks in Iraq today, tomorrow and in the weeks to come.
But it will be the Iraqi and coalition response to those bombings that
determines whether the future remains as bleak as the present. Their actions
will determine today's surprise transfers political authority in Iraq signals the genesis of democracy in the
mideast, or just another day in a region bereft of freedom.
JWR contributor Robert Stewart, a former Army intelligence analyst, is now a writer based in
Washington, D.C. Comment by clicking here.
05/18/04: Iraq's Governing Council leader's murder has only led to further recognizing of clear choice between stability and a government run by terror
05/13/04: Nick Berg video will backfire on Muslims
03/23/04: The killing of a moderate
03/18/04: They can not be sated only stopped
03/09/04: Is Iraq a success one year later? Ask the president of the Iraqi Governing Council
02/13/04: Kerry swings at Bush, hits Clinton
02/03/04: The coming anti-lobbyist lobby?
12/30/03: Bush Doctrine, often derided, is paying dividends in peace
11/24/03: Isolationism does not breed immunity
11/10/03: President Bush, like Eisenhower before him, is signaling the beginning of a new epoch
10/21/03: Is this war being won? You bet, just don't ask the congressman with the embarrassingly bad timing
© 2004, Robert Stewart