Rabbi Haim Cassorla Views Is a Client State the solution?
Is a client state the democratic solution we sought to replace tyranny in Iraq?

The respected commentator on the Middle East, Irwin N. Graulich, whose opinion I usually respect, recently suggested that we must stay the course in Iraq and "guide" Iraq to "Democracy" with a very heavy hand. What he recommends is no less than an occupation similar to the occupation of Germany or of Japan post WWII. I find several real problems with this proposal. Let us look closely at the proposal and at its possible consequences.
As I began to read his commentary, I read this amazing phrase, "How dare the Iraqis believe they are wise and mature enough to select their own leaders." The sentence drew me in like a large minnow on a hook I couldn't see. I enjoy humor and satire, and I couldn't believe that this statement was written with his tongue anywhere but tightly in his cheek. I have often contended that the Right and the Left in extremis differ little in outcome. The difference in the end is rationale, not position. The Left wants to legislate our behavior to "protect" us from our inevitable "stupid" decisions. We need to wear seatbelts and motorcycle helmets for our own protection. We "need" comprehensive health care and tobacco prohibition to keep us healthy. And, incidentally, we need all of this so that we can keep the bureaucrats working. The Right wants to legislate our behavior to "protect" us from our inevitable "wrong" decisions. We need to make abortion illegal to "protect" the "unborn." They desire to protect us from making the wrong decisions and they know what the wrong decisions are because they are, by definition, "Right." They seem to believe that they can make better decisions about how we should run our lives than we can. Poppycock!
What right do we have to select the right person to "run" Iraq? Jefferson, (though highly recommended by Mr. Graulich as an ideal for the Iraqis), is not the right person even to run the United States right now, and many of his ideas including holding slaves, have been buried along with him. The path to maturity for an individual and/or a government is through trial and error. There is an old story about the rich and sage man being asked how he became so rich and sage. His answer was "I make lots of right decisions." The next question he was asked was, of course, "How do you develop the ability to make lots of right decisions?" His answer this time was "making lots of wrong decisions."
We learn by trial and error and mostly by error. We cannot shortcut the process. A child deprived of the experience of failure will never know the taste of success. The birth pangs of statehood for Iraq cannot be suffered for Iraq by the American people. We have helped as much as we can. What is needed now is that we display and exert the gentlest possible guidance of a caring and loving parent. Remember that we had selected our candidate to run Iraq, and it now looks as though he was a spy for Iran. Remember that part of the problem in Iraq is that we backed Saddam Hussein in the Iraq - Iran war. We bet on Iraq as we bet on the Taliban in their war against the Soviet Union. We have surely proven our own inability to pick a winner in that part of the world -neither in the interests of the people to be governed, nor in the best long term interests of the U. S.
The time for colonies and paternalistic states has passed in this world. The people of Iraq and the people of the United States will not allow a policy which will short-leash the incoming Iraqi government or even a policy which will determine with a heavy hand the nature and form of that government. Democracy is not bundt cake. Democracy is not defined by its form. Even the American democratic republic is in ongoing evolution determined by changing times and conditions.
For those of you who are not familiar with the history of the vast area loosely called the Middle East, all of the States of the Middle East are the fallout of the destruction of the Ottoman hegemony. The borders of these States were drawn by the all-wise French and British victors of the Great War, (later known as WWI). The British, French and the League of Nations set up governments in their Colonies, Protectorates and Mandatory territories. From that date to this, only one true democracy has emerged in the entire area. That democracy is The thorn in the side of all the other States in the area. That democracy is given as the reason that the entire region is in turmoil. That democracy is the only true and constant friend that the United States has in the area. I am, of course, speaking of Israel, the State that stood beside the United States even when the United States did not stand beside her.
My friend, Irwin N. Graulich, writes, "Arab pride seems to trump everything else. Iraqis would prefer a terrible choice that they make themselves, rather than a great choice by an American. Talk about immaturity." Immaturity persists where dependence is fostered. We have proven this in our own country, passing legislation to "protect" certain classes and ending up with large "entitlements" which not only eat up a huge chunk of our national budget, but also guarantee the dependents of those entitlements a permanent place on the rolls of those "entitlements." These "entitlements" foster immaturity among leaders of industry, farmers, and the disabled and unemployed alike. "Entitlement" guarantees this immaturity by rewarding failure. We cannot protect the Iraqi people either from failure or from its effects if we truly wish them to succeed. We must, at the same time, be willing to suffer as we see Iraq make "mistakes" in its path to a stable democracy of its own design. We made and make mistakes on our path, why shouldn't they?
We cannot protect our children from injury by telling them how we were injured. We cannot protect them by removing all chance for them to injure themselves. We cannot even suffer their injuries for them. It is a rite of passage from immaturity to maturity. Let us step back from what the Iraqis can do for themselves and perhaps we can dedicate our efforts in Iraq to finding and destroying the vast weapons and ammunition stores that still exist. In the long run, one million RPG rounds are, of themselves, a weapon of mass destruction.
Let us help the Iraqi people on the road to maturity by stepping back and applauding their victories. Forget the small stuff and move on to our larger role of Senior State, guided by Senior Statesmen. Let us show the path and lead the way with willing followers, not captive dependants.

(c) 2004 Rabbi Haim Cassorla

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