Mark Steyn, prognosticator

The Corner – National Review Online is one of the online hangout’s of Mark Steyn. If you aren’t reading him, you’re missing out.

I know what I’d like: Iraq, circa 2010, is a functioning confederal state, not a perfect democracy, but a respectable one – not New Hampshire, not Norway, but not Zimbabwe, either. Think Singapore or Belize. It has a growing economy, an enlightened education system, a free press, and an expanding middle-class. Its representative at Arab League meetings votes with the King of Morocco more often than with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Its presence as a free society in the heart of the region changes the dynamic, encouraging reform in some of its neighbors (Jordan) and shriveling the dictatorships in others (Syria).

14 thoughts on “Mark Steyn, prognosticator”

  1. I wish it would be that way. Just not sure 10 years is enough to get it that way (at least in the social part fo the prediction).

  2. Well, Bill, if you read the article at the link, you’ll see that he’s a hell of a lot closer to reality than his opponents are.

  3. The last time I was on Usenet BBS it was on Tom Clancy’s forum. He asked a question that he never answered: “What benefit will acrue from having a democratic Iraq?”. Think we’ll find out in the next 3-5 years. Should be interesting.

  4. The big benefit as Rush Limbaugh has pointed out more than once is that functional democracies tend not to go to war with other functional democracies. The other benefit is as a catalyst against Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. We have already seen some changes forced in Saudi Arabia. Votes for local councils, some expanded womens rights (not near enough but some) etc. That probably wouldn’t have happend under the pre ’03 status quo.

  5. Well, it is clear that Bush was going for a strategic realignment. And he got one, but not exactly as he wanted.

    The thinking was that if we could overthrow Iraq and institute a reasonably democratic government, other governments in the region (Iran especially) would be less likely to continue their support of terrorism for fear of being the next to face the US military.

    But the insurgency ruined that plan, that’s for sure. Iran could do just about anything today, and there would be no political support for any military action. Which is ironic, as there’s a far greater affinity for the US among the Iranian population than there ever was in Saddam’s Iraq, and the risk of an effective insurgency would be lower.

  6. I think that we underestimate the possibilities in Iraq. I read once that most insurgencies peter out after about 10 yrs. We are coming up on that now. If Iraq stabilizes it will be a stabilizing influebce against Iran. I ran I think will be self-resolving with in another 10 years.

  7. Yeah, I don’t know how long the Iranian regime can last. But then, we’ve been predicting its internal instability for 30 years now…

    Plus, if they do acquire nukes, they can use them as a shield to hide behind while they instigate outside tension as a foil to play off against internal unrest. Time is not on our side there.

  8. As to Iraq, the next couple years are key. How the election turns out, its legitimacy in the eyes of the three major ethnic groups, and its level of success in not just security, but basic governmental services (and curbing corruption).

    I’m cautiously optimistic.

  9. The big thing is for the Iraqis to consider themselves Iraqi first, and Shia, Kurd, Sunni, second.

    Once they get that attitude, then Islam becomes less of a driving force in politics and we will begin to see the separation of Secular from Religious in government.

    That strips power from the clerics and puts it squarely in the hands of the people.

  10. Well the only “cleric” who was trying to impose an Iranian style theocracy was Al Sadr, but Al Sistani has a far greater influence in Iraq and he’s always said that, while he’s no fan of the US, that the clerics shouldn’t run the country, which has been key to our success (and hence, Iraq’s).

  11. It’s always amazing that in the biggest shitholes in the world there is always someone (like al-Sistani) that can look past their own personal gain and do the right thing. They don’t always win but they are always there. In my mind this is where most of the man is an an unanimal natural law arguments fall down. In anarchic (sp?) circumstances most people will revert to their base nature but some don’t and they attempt to build a viable society.

  12. Those folks are few and far between. And, as you note, they aren’t always successful. I suspect some cultures create more of them than others.

    Al Sistani is no great fan of the US, and he’s hardly what you’d call a moderate in social terms. But his call for Iraqis to participate in political life was key.

  13. Oh I am not overlooking al-Sistani’s faults. In fact it is those faults that make him more remarkable for his time and place. Washington is another (excellent) example. America was basically his for the asking. He set aside his own self-interest and put the country first. He is who I think of whenever I encounter objectivists and their philosophy of selfishness. -No I don’t believe Sistani is in the same league as Washington. Same principle but entirely different scales.

  14. Yeah, objectivity works as a rule of thumb, but like most things, can be taken to its illogical extreme. And the Rayndians are just the ones to do it.

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