Iraq: February 28, 2004


Dictatorship is easy, democracy is hard. The Iraqis trying to put together a constitution hare discovering that as they try to resolve some major differences of opinion. Islamic conservatives, both Shia and Sunni, are demanding that the nations laws be based on Sharia (Islamic law.) But this would severely limit the rights of women, and discriminate against non-Islamic Iraqis. The United States is opposed to the Sharia approach, as are many secular Iraqis. The other issue is the extent of the autonomy of the Kurds in the north. For centuries, the Kurds have been persecuted by Arabs and Turks. Since 1991 they have been left alone, protected by their own militia and American and British air power. The Kurds are more willing to compromise than the Arabs, but there's still no agreement. The constitution was supposed to have been all worked out by today. It wasn't. These deadlocks make some Iraqis nostalgic for a dictatorship. But a benevolent dictatorship, perhaps a religious one would be OK. But there are no benevolent dictators, just as there is no painless democracy.


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