George Will

Iraq needs, quickly, four things that America required years--decades, really--to acquire. First, a leader who symbolizes national unity. Second, a constitution that establishes federalism that accommodates and tempers regionalism and durable factions. Third, an interpreter of the constitution who can prevent centrifugal tendencies from turning federalism into a force that makes the central government too weak to prevent disintegration through secession. Fourth, the institutions--and mores--needed for an entrepreneurial market system.

Americans in the 1780s shared a temperate political culture. Neither the oppressions they had experienced before the war for independence--if the Stamp Act and such inconveniences and insults can be called oppressions--nor the brutalities of war (particularly in the Southern theater) traumatized Americans as Saddam's regime has traumatized Iraqis. Yet America needed and was fortunate to have a leader with the unifying stature of Washington.

America was socially homogenous. Tensions between Protestants, Catholics and Quakers, and English and German speakers, were trivial compared to those between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, and between Iraqi Kurds and everyone else. America's factions were primarily economic and regional, not ethnic and sectarian. Yet America needed and was fortunate to have Madison to provide a democratic theory and constitutional practices to tame

them.

America was bursting with potential for economic dynamism based on diverse agriculture and manufacturing in a vast market. But first it needed and was fortunate to have Hamilton's understanding of the prerequisites of a market society.

America had regional tensions: The first secessionist impulse arose in mercantile New England, which suffered under President Jefferson's trade embargo directed against England and France. And memories of the heavy hand of George III--hardly as heavy as Saddam's hand on Iraq--made many Americans wary of a national government with energy sufficient for national needs. America was fortunate that Chief Justice Marshall read such energy into the Constitution.

Iraq's success will require just four people--four akin to Washington, Madison, Hamilton and Marshall. But that means it also needs the social soil in which such people bloom. And the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are just two players away from being contenders.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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