Some keep on second-guessing and failure-mongering on budding democracy in Iraq

Monday, February 14 2005 @ 09:34 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

This is to follow up the January 31 TFP story titled "'Democracy' in Iraq, Ukraine, China and Japan".

On February 14 the Iraqi election committee announced the final results of the January 30 election. Although the overall turnout was lowered to 58% from the initial estimate of 70%, still nobody can deny it's quite something that some 8.5 million people showed up at poll stations defying terrorists' threat. Soon after the elections, U.S. President George W. Bush called world leaders to share his delight. He called Gerhard Schroder, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and Kofi Annan. But for obvious reasons he didn't bother to call up Junichiro Koizumi who considers the U.S. President his closest friend.

As the initial euphoria over the landmark event, that even infected the New York Times, wanes, some have resumed their same old business of second-guessing and failure-mongering. This is especially true with the Japanese journalism.

In fact there's a bumpy road ahead of the Iraqis not only because of terrorists but because of the tribal feud among the Shiite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the Kurdish population. While there is not a single country in today's world that does not face a tremendous amount of difficulty and challenge, it seems to Japanese journalists and political commentators that Iraqis' future perspective is especially unpromising and gloomy. Why is that?

The Japanese people take it for granted that the goal of national unity can only be achieved where the entire nation clings to the myth of homogeneity. From their point of view it's next to unimaginable that a variety of people with different racial and religious backgrounds can achieve this goal. If the Japanese apply the only chemical equation that they know to Iraq, the answer is like this: Shiite Arabs + Sunni Arabs + Kurds = A catastrophic explosion.

To support their own false argument now, most of the media are saying the U.S. or any other Western country can not successfully implant their own set of values into the Arab country because liberty, the word that the simple-minded President of the U.S. used more than 40 times in his 5,063-word State of the Union address, is not a universal value.

In effect, however, these people are just admitting that the post-WWII democracy which General Douglas MacArthur tried to impose on the Japanese (see February 5 TFP story "Everybody has climbed onto bandwagon of constitutional debates now...") hasn't really taken hold in this soil. It's no wonder that six decades after MacArthur attempted a transplant surgery here, Japan started to become so uncomfortable with the postwar democracy as to feel an irresistible urge to redefine itself, in the course of the ongoing constitutional debates, as something other than a democracy - most probably an even more "unique," more morbid and more inviable system.

No one, but know-it-all Japanese analysts, can tell what is awaiting the Iraqis beyond the rocky road. But what about the home turf of those analysts? One of my American friends once asked me where I thought Japan was heading. My answer to this question was, and remains, "Nowhere."

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