Daniel Drezner, writing again for TNR has a delicious essay on democratizing Iraq. Money graf:
The area specialists aren’t necessarily wrong; democratizing Iraq won’t be easy. But the conditions aren’t nearly as barren as these experts suggest, and the potential upside is enormous. If a democratic transition were to succeed in Iraq, then Syria, suddenly surrounded by established democracies (Israel and Turkey) and emerging democracies (Iraq and Jordan), might start to feel nervous as well. Combine democratization in the Fertile Crescent with the continued liberalization of Morocco, Bahrain, and Qatar, and suddenly the neocon vision of a fourth wave of democratization spreading across the Middle East begins to look plausible.
Upshot? It won’t be easy, it won’t be cheap, and it certainly won’t be quick. But it is doable, and the potential benefits make it more than worth the effort, expense, and time.
NOTE: And the downside of failure makes the effort mandatory.