Democracy is the right priority in Iraq

To the Daily:

Suhael Momin’s apparently well-meaning prescription to
delay demands for democracy in Iraq (Is there a different answer
in Iraq?
, 5/10/04) is unwise and may well bring neither
democracy nor economic progress.

Although there is some truth to his claim that economic
stability and growth are crucial to functional democracy, an
overemphasis on the economy may lead to an underemphasis on
democracy, as in China, where impressive rates of growth have not
led to a democratic society.

Similar things happened in Chile, where mere economic gains
certainly did not make dictator Augusto Pinochet’s tyranny
into a democracy. Of course, Momin could argue that economic
security is just a prerequisite of democracy, not a guarantee that
a democratic society will happen. Even so, one should still not let
democracy slip into being an inferior priority at any point.
Momin’s appreciation of how economic factors can bolster
democracy is admirable, but he would have done far better to
suggest development in Iraq of the economy and democracy
simultaneously instead of vainly hoping that democracy will somehow
spring up later on after having been shoved into second place. Why
follow Saddam’s failed example in undervaluing democracy — at
Abu Ghraib or elsewhere?

David Boyle


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