Stability First, Democracy Second
Late in the evening on Monday April 19th, Gen. Adan Qaragholi, a high ranking Iraqi Defense Minister, was murdered by ten gunmen who had forced their way into his home. This is not an isolated incident. The instability in Iraq has been causing problems, not only for the newly formed Defense Ministry and Iraqi police force, but for all of Iraq's citizens. The car bombings, suicide bombers, and assignation attempts are almost a daily occurrence. Kidnappings are a common threat as well. The Iraqi Police continue to search for victims of a mass kidnapping that occurred over the weekend of April 16-17th in a southern section of Baghdad. How is Iraq supposed to build a stable and productive democratic government when its own citizens do not feel safe in their own homes?
Democracy flourishes in peaceful environments, where people feel free to express their ideas. President Bush said that we must give the Iraqis democracy. Now that we have, we cannot just leave saying "Here's your constitution. See ya later!" With Iraq's current volatile situation, that would be equivalent to handing the country back to Saddam's old buddies. The Iraqis first and foremost need a society stable enough to allow for democracy to flourish.
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States implemented a humanitarian-aid policy, the Marshal Plan, to help rebuild the European countries ravished by the war. It worked. Many of the countries helped by the Marshal Plan are now strong thriving democracies. If a humanitarian-aide plan, like the Marshal Plan, was implemented in Iraq, it too could become a strong and thriving democracy. The situation this time is obviously different. But, the basic principles remain the same: before democracy can take root in a war ravaged nation, the country must be stable enough to provide for the needs of all of its citizens.
The aid-workers already in Iraq are doing the best that they can, but a more organized effort would be more effective. People need the assurance of a home, food and security. Part of rebuilding a nation is making the ordinary citizens feel comfortable to continue their lives in a way free from the fear of attack on themselves and their loved ones; to pick up their businesses. But before this can happen, the people currently living in the refugee camps need to have a real roof over there heads and a reliable way to feed their families and themselves. An aid plan that included creating new jobs rather than just a monetary pledge would be best.
The first free election in Iraq a few months ago was good, but the bombings and assassinations, like General Qaragholi, are still all too common. The people need to know that when they elect leaders they will not be assassinated almost as soon as they take their oaths of office. Setting up a democratic government is not enough if the people cannot function within it. We need to do more to stabilize the country before we leave it on its own with democracy.
Front Page (April 29, 2005)
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