How realistic is the hope to transform Iraq into the first-ever Arab democracy? In an area of the world where the main instrument of political discourse is physical force, where the role of the absolute leader supersedes that of political institutions, and where citizenship is largely synonymous with submission, it can hardly be surprising that the Western ideal of liberal democracy should have been so glaringly lacking. There are other complicating factors as well. Long after the fall of the Ottomans-the last great Muslim empire-the inextricable link among religion, politics, and society remains very much alive in the Muslim world, making the introduction of democratic ideals a daunting task. As we are constantly being told, there is no grassroots demand for democracy among Arabs and Muslims, and any attempt to impose it is bound to encounter stiff resistance and to arouse the proverbial "street" to new heights of anti-Americanism.
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|Published - Apr 2003