Where Are the “Good” Iraqis?

“The good people of Iraq are trying desperately to transform their country from one ruled by fear, repression, and tyranny into a democracy that upholds the values of equality, tolerance, human rights, and the rule of law.”

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani

Talabani’s passionate essay for FP magazine is worth reading in full, if only for an alternate view on the debacle unfolding in Iraq. Talabani says that Iraq is every democracy’s fight and that losing is not an option. In the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, “he would wouldn’t he?” And yet Talabani’s basic sentiment is much of the reason I, for one, supported continued engagement in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But if the past two years have proven anything it’s that Iraq is not a concept that inspires enough solidarity for Iraqis not to kill each other and squabble endlessly, and that the number of Iraqis who truly want, let alone are trying desperately to transform their country from one ruled by fear, repression, and tyranny into a democracy that upholds the values of equality, tolerance, human rights, and the rule of law is exceedingly small. Things might have been different with more troops or better tactics, but how long can Talabani ask other democracies to expend blood and treasure for a constitutional order seemingly and violently opposed by the great majority of his people?

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