Det fantes et Irak før Saddam og det var langtfra så blodig som under tyrannen. Noen har til og med hevdet at det trengtes en hard hånd for å holde de ulike folkegruppene sammen i en stat. Denne unnskyldning for diktatur kjenner vi også fra Jugoslavia.

Det pussige er at det er tradisjonelle konservative og liberale som hevder slike statiske synspunkter: demokrati passer ikke for alle.

Det begynner som en kritikk av amerikansk «folly», og avslører seg som en forakt mot vanlige irakere.

Det fantes et annet Irak, skriver Fouad Ajami; med sans for balanse og det å dele. Også det gamle Baath rommet sunni, shia og kurdere. Tikrit-klanen smadret alt det. Irakerne vil gjerne stemme, det er en måte å ta et oppgjør med fortiden på.

The ballot box is their means out of the subjugation of recent decades. One needn’t wax poetic about the old, pre-Saddam Iraq. It had its cruelties, and failures. But there had at least been balance, and time-honored arrangements of power and property. The Shiites had once dominated the commerce of Baghdad and Basra, and their religious scholars in Najaf and Karbala had autonomy and security of life and possession. Even the Baath had once been an alliance of Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds and Christians. The Tikriti tyranny shredded the old order, and its saving graces. It wrote the Shiites out of the life of the land. These elections are a way for this disinherited majority to reclaim its place.

Vesten trenger ikke være redd for et nytt teokrati i Irak. Det kommer ikke til å skje. Ajami har rosende ord om Sistani.

We needn’t be afraid of a Shiite electoral victory. The scarecrow that stayed America’s hand in the first Gulf War ought to be seen for what it is. There is no «sister republic» of the Iranian theocracy in Iraq’s future. The religious scholars in Najaf know that theirs is a country that differs from Iran; it is a checkered country of multiple communities. The Shiite secularists know this as well. Besides, the Iranian state next door offers no panacea today, only terrible economic and cultural sterility. It has been Iraq’s luck that Ayatollah Sistani was there when most needed. A jurist of deeply quietist bent who embodies Shiism’s historical aversion to political redemptionism, he has reined in the passions of his community. He has held out the hope that history could be changed without large-scale violence, and without millenarianism. Grant the old man his due.

Valget betyr ikke begynnelsen på borgerkrig. Det er en medisin mot borgerkrig. Den friheten kurderne har nytt i over ti år, kommer nå også de andre til gode: mulighetene til å bygge deres egen fremtid.

Under Anglo-American protection the Kurds, for decades the victims of official persecution, were able to build a decent, moderate political world in their ancestral north. Now the work of repair extends beyond the Kurds, and Iraq today represents the odd spectacle, a veritable reversal of intellectual galaxies, of a conservative American president proclaiming the gospel of liberty while liberals fall back on a surly belief that liberty can’t travel, can’t spread to Muslim lands.

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