June 06, 2003

MARK STEYN HAS MORE FROM THE MIDEAST, and in particular on the prospects for liberal democracy there:

Itís right that Iraq should be run by its own people, but national politics is no place to start. Itís easy to imagine an Iraq with three regional parliaments in Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, harder to foresee a single legislature filled by members of nationwide parties. But if it ever happens it will be the very last piece of the puzzle. Americans understand this: the original colonists learned self-government in their towns and their states and eventually applied it to an entire continent.

By contrast, those European sophisticates sneering that Washington wonít stay the course are often the same crowd whoíve found it easier to elevate the friendliest local strongman than create a durable constitutional culture. Dominique de Villepin, the ubiquitous Frenchman, declared the other day that Paris was indispensable to postwar reconstruction because it had so much experience in Africa. I donít know about you, but I think Iraq deserves better than to be the new Chad or Ivory Coast.

I think we need to be pushing for freedom in Francophone Africa, too.