Wednesday, March 17, 2004
I still feel in my gut that a prolonged Coalition administration in Iraq for several years is preferable to a change in sovereignty in June. A Coalition military presence will need to remain in Iraq anyways, and the social infrastructure necessary for democracy to thrive are still in the sprout stage.
Nonetheless, a transition in June can still work, as long as the Coalition and the new Iraqi provisional government work against the country's two largest immediate threats: the terrorist presence and sectarian divisions.
The attack today on the Mt. Lebanon Hotel underscores the terrorist threat. The truth is that most terrorists now in Iraq are foreigners bent on destabilizing the country for their benefits, not local Iraqis (except when the foreigners pay them, which is mostly what's happening when a local is involved). An increased Coalition presence along Iraq's borders would help things immensely, especially after June, with troops likely to pull back from population centres.
As for sectarian divisions, we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope that the provisional government would stand up to bullying Shia clerics and agitated Kurds and Sunni Arabs alike. Rewarding good behaviour with foreign aid, and a stronger stand against Iran (the country with most to gain from a failing Iraq) would be beneficial.
And oh yah one last thing: a prayer that Iraqi voters are stronger and more resilient to terrorism than Spanish voters.