Thomas Sowell

President Bush has rejected the idea that some peoples and cultures are not ready for democracy. He points to the large Iraqi turnout at the elections, despite the threats of terrorists. Everyone wants more freedom, he and his supporters say.

Wanting freedom, however, is not the same as wanting others to have the same freedom you have. Such tolerance is not the norm in Iraq.

Nor was it the norm in Western civilization until after Protestants and Catholics fought each other for centuries before finally realizing that neither could exterminate the other. Sunnis and Shi'ites have yet to reach a similar accommodation in Iraq.

Agresto points out how Americans' organizing the Iraqi government on the basis of competing interest groups made reconciliation harder, if not impossible.

He notes that those who founded the United States organized political power on the basis of territory, so that mutual accommodations among people with different views within given communities were a prerequisite for gaining power.

What recent progress has been made in Iraq has apparently been made by mobilizing traditional local and regional Iraqi leaders and coalitions, not by relying on the democratically elected central government. There may be a lesson there.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate