Five Questions, Part 2
Posted by aogFriday, 14 February 2003 at 18:11 TrackBack Ping URL
Question Two
What do you feel are the prospects that an invasion of Iraq will succeed in
  1. maintaining it as a stable entity
  2. in turning it into a democracy?
Are there any precedents in the past 50 years that influence your answer?
I think that prospects for creating a stable entity or entities in the territory of Iraq are quite high, if for no other reason than making an example of a nation can have a salutory effect on it and its neighbors. It's not clear, however, that stability is a good thing. The stability of the North Korean regime hasn't been good for anyone except a tiny clique of rulers. Millions have died there and elsewhere on the alter of stability.

I am less optimistic about the prospects of a democracy. However, as I have argued, I think that democracy of itself is overrated. What to me is far more important is rule of law and a self ordered society (I really need to do an entire post on what I mean by that). Such a society can then use some form of democracy to preserve itself. But democracy without the infrastructure of habit is fragile and frequently worse in the long term than a authortarian (because it can poison the well).

In terms of other examples, a fifty year horizon excludes any results from WWII, which provide the best examples. However, one can look at South Korea. While there were certainly dirty deeds done in the name of the US and the rulers it sponsored in that country, what can one say when the alternative is the modern day Mordor of North Korea? I credit a large part of this progress to the presence of US troops in S. Korea - this inhibits both aggression by the state and the worst excesses of repressive governments. The troops provide the natives with direct contact with citizens of a self-ordered society. US troops also bring in trade with the US which also serves to provide direct experience with the actions of free citizens.

Despite the risks and expense, I don't see how the US has any option but to try. The current structure of Arabia is spawning hate and death while acquiring access to city-killing weapons. They've already come for us and collected thousands. Waiting until the death toll is hundreds of thousands doesn't seem like a good plan. Those against the invsaion would do well to consider this, which has gone around the blogosphere: if we do wait and some Calipharian manages to succeed in such a strike, what do you think that will mean for their fellow citizens? Do you think that we will not strike back, or that we will be more measured in our response? If you really believe that President Bush is a blood thirsty aggressor, what do you think he'll do after such an act?