Friday, March 02, 2007

Hope in Iraq

Has there ever been a smooth transformation of a society? The Christian Reformation was notably bloody. And the spread of Republicanism in Europe and the Americas was preceded by violence sufficient to persuade old powers to relinguish their authority.

Can reform be imposed by force? It certainly worked in Japan but only after years of war capped by two nuclear attacks.

Is the transformation to a pluralistic, liberal democracy worth it? For the grateful generations that follow, the answer seems self evident.

So as appalling as the violence in Iraq is right now, shouldn’t we all feel a measure of optimism when a Muslim cleric can go on national television and discuss a separation between religious and civil authority?

Listen to Iraqi MP Iyad Al-Din explain the role of religion in the lives of individuals and the corrupting influence of politics on religion:

This is exciting thinking because separating "church and state" is not an intuitive idea. After all, if you believe in a transcendant religious authority, why wouldn't you believe that authority should have political expression on earth? We in the West are comfortable with this division only because it took hundreds of years and countless lives to deliver us to this point.

Perhaps the same sort of reformation is taking shape in Iraq.

If the outcome of the violence in Iraq is a transformed Arab/Islamic society, then every one of the people who have died thus far will have given their lives to bring about one of the most profoundly beneficial outcomes in recent history.

Oh, and by the way, George W. Bush was the first to suggest this outcome was possible.

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