Moments of Weakness
Michael Ubaldi, December 5, 2003.
John Cullinan squares on the threat to Iraqi liberalism posed by Ayatollah Sistani in National Review today. On the one hand, he takes the disturbing similarities between Sistani's rhetoric and clerical rule, even if "indirect," seriously; on the other, however, he recognizes Sistani's brief opportunity to capitalize on domestic uncertainty and President Bush's statements of resistance to the kind of theocratic mischief currently brewing in Afghanistan. He summarizes:
Present circumstances in which nationalist passions and religious sentiments are mutually reinforcing will not last forever. Indeed, one Iraqi observer puts it this way: "The religious parties are afraid that in a year or two, the standard of living will increase and prosperity will increase and the people will not go for these religious parties," according to Jabber Habbib, a political scientist at Baghdad University. In fact, the clergy's indecent haste to settle Iraq's political future in advance reflects a senior State Department official's celebrated 1990 characterization of Islamic democracy as "one man, one vote, one time."