Friday, January 18, 2008

Iraq Government At A Stalemate - Now Will They Listen?

When I look at the stalemate in the Iraq government I have to remind myself of my experiences in Mexico. Now, before I get hate mail, I would never equate the democracy in Mexico with Iraq, however there is an interesting analogy about some of the attitudes I found while living and working there. First what is happening in Iraq.

According to an article in the Washington Post written by the national security adviser to the Iraqui government, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "it has been impossible to maintain a political consensus on many important issues." He goes on to say, "the current political framework is based on a pluralistic democratic vision that, while admirable, is entirely unsuited to resolving this three-way divide."

The gist of the article is a call for a Federalism rather than a pluralistic democracy, and the funny thing is, that is exactly what many critics in the US have always called for, a 3-state federal system that recognizes the ethnic divisions rather than ignores them. And for this we had to wait years?

Now comes the Mexico part. While working in Mexico, I often found that my suggestions were accepted gracefully and then ignored while the people I was advising struggled to find an alternative to my suggestion. In some cases they did reach "work-arounds" that were actually acceptable, but more often they struggled and finally came around to using the suggestion I gave.

As a consultant I was hired to make those suggestions, therefore I am not trying to assert any super intelligence in the matter, but my frustration was that there seemed to be an insistence to go-it-alone first. Ironically, after all the sturm und drang, they usually thanked me for my suggestion and lauded my work.

Now do you see the analogy? The Iraqi government has heard criticism and suggestions of a federalist solution from not only the US not other countries. After a lot of struggle, they finally come around to the same conclusion. Why didn’t they just consider taking the advice first? Who knows? That will be one of the great mysteries of the Middle East I suppose.

Of course the same thing could be said for our government and its insistence that a pluralistic democracy was the answer without taking into consideration the facts on the ground and the best advice of its experts. I guess there are just as many mysteries in the West as the East.

No comments: