American Elephants

Iraq, says the French ambassador, is the true laboratory of democracy in the Arab world. by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal today quotes Boris Boillon, the French ambassador to Iraq, from an interview with Le Figaro on August 31, in their “Notable & Quotable” column.

The tactic of al Qaeda, which aims to put the country in fire and blood, to rekindle the civil war, has failed. The specter of partition in Iraq is behind us. . . . The record has improved since we passed a hundred deaths per day four years ago, to ten deaths per day today. In fact, the trend reversed itself when U.S. troops began leaving the cities, in June 2009. With the final withdrawal, this trend should continue and stabilize. . . .

Of course, the Iraqis say that the allied intervention of 2003 cost them dearly in lives and destruction of infrastructure, but they are aware also that it has liberated the country. The picture is therefore both positive and negative. Iraqis enjoy the fruits of democratization: the blossoming of the press, the emergence of a civil society, the free political parties, the exemplary nature of elections. These are all facts.

It is absolutely necessary, when one speaks of Iraq, to reason nonideologically. Iraq is the true laboratory of democracy in the Arab world. It is there that the future of democracy in the region will play itself out. Iraq could potentially become a political model for its neighbors. And, whether one likes it or not, all this has come about thanks to the American intervention of 2003. . . .

That no consensus has emerged around a [new] head of government proves that the political game occurs in Iraq and no neighboring country is able to impose its choice on Iraqi politics.

Even if the door is broken open, it must be restated that the last election constituted a victory for democracy. There are not many other countries in the region where results are not known before the vote.


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