If you turn on the news or look at the headlines in the newspaper box, the post-war reconstruction of Iraq looks like a failure.
Look more carefully. The Iraqi summer of 2003 is a violent one, but something wonderful and new is being born.
Here is Iranian journalist Amir Taheri:
Iraq is the only Arab country today where all political parties, from communist to conservative, operate freely. Visitors will be impressed by the openness of the political debate there, something not found anywhere else in the Arab world. Also, for the first time, Iraq has no political prisoners.
Almost 150 newspapers and magazine are now published there, offering a diversity not found in any other Arab country. One theme of these new publications is the need for democratization in the Arab world. This may be putting the cart before the horse. What Arabs, and Muslims in general, most urgently need is basic freedom, without which democracy cannot be built.
The impact of Iraq’s liberation is already felt throughout the region.
Here are some interesting quotes.
“What we need is a space of freedom in which to think and speak without fear,” says a leading Syrian economist. “Bashar knows that if he does not create that space, many Syrians will immigrate to Iraq and be free under American rule.”
And this, from the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson:
“I decided to leave Iran and settle in Iraq where the Americans have created a space of freedom,” Hussein Khomeini says. “The coming of freedom to Iraq will transform the Muslim world.”
Perhaps the best reaction, if we can trust it, comes from Libya.
In a recent television appearance, Col. Muammar Khadafy (whose one-man rule has been in place since 1969) told astonished Libyans that he now regarded democracy as “the best system for mankind” and that he would soon unveil a package of reforms. These are expected to include a new Constitution to institutionalize his rule and provide for an elected national assembly.
Free people do not fight wars against each other.
And that is why I supported the liberation of Iraq. For freedom. For democracy. For all of us.