Early reports from Iraq indicate that the election is going smoothly (or at least by Iraqi standards). With absolutely no real experience with true representative government, this effort to fashion a rough constitutional democracy out of whole cloth, so to speak, is noteworthy indeed. While disaster still lurks on every side, there is room for at least guarded hope. Let's just not be surprised, however, if this nascent "democracy" takes root and brings forth fruit not exactly to our liking.
The mess in Iraq, like so many others, has it roots in the divvying-up of the old orders after World War I. Mark Steyn, a gifted Canadian writer, had these thoughts on Veterans Day, 2002, which are still appropriate today:
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent. But peace is more than the absence of war. for the last decade, the world has been preoccupied with the messy unfinished business of the Great War, the "war to end all wars"--first in Yugoslavia, the prototype multi-ethnic utopia, which fell apart along the old Hapsburg/Ottoman fault line as if the last 80 years had never happened; and then in "the Middle East," an Anglo-French construct cooked up in the years after 1918. After decades of coveting Araby, by the time they got their hands on the place both powers were too exhausted to do little more than draw lines in the sand and call them "Syria," "Iraq," "Saudi Arabia." The most toxic states of the 21st Century are the progeny of whimsical Colonial Office cartographers of 1922.
Mark Steyn, National Post, 21 November 2002