Saturday, January 29, 2005


As I write this, it's approaching 4:00 a.m. in Baghdad on its first election day in half a century. I imagine most Iraqis are over the idea of elections and democracy and expect things to continue pretty much as they are, or were under Saddam, no matter who is elected or what gets included in the new constitution. But it truly would be great if a peaceful, Canadian-like democracy emerged from the chaos.

Canadian? I, personally, really like Canada. Progressive, smart. If it weren't for the latitude thing, I would've emigrated long ago. I've been wondering, since the U.S. has Alaska—which is so clearly Canadian land that a 5-year-old looking at a map will ask "Why isn't that part of Canada?"—why don't we let California be Canada's "Alaska," a non-contiguous province? Wouldn't that make things a bit more symmetrical? So...when can we vote on the ballot measure?

I can understand the Sunni reluctance to adopt democracy. They represent only 20% of the population of Iraq, compared to the Shiites' 60%. Any democracy can degenerate into mob rule, as it has in the U.S. (I mentioned in an earlier post that the Electoral College was designed precisely to protect the country from mob rule, but I don't know that it ever has. It was intended merely to parrot the popular vote? Where's the protection in that?) However, I don't understand the generations of hostility between Shia and Sunni in Iraq. From my distant observation point, it looks as if this deadly rift is between, say, Catholics and Baptists. Yes, there are doctrinal differences, but generations of hatred, persecution, murder, continuing into the 21st century? I've said it before (in my other
blog): People love war—it's the ultimate football game.

If I could encourage Iraqis to do anything, it would be to picture Canada when they think of democracy. Or Australia. Or other smart countries like those. Democracy doesn't have to be American.

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