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IRAQ: The future of

Paul Simon says "Maybe the State Department's tepitude on democracy in Iraq is not what you would have expected. However, I well remember the day in 1997 when I asked a senior ambassador and MidEast expert why we didn't get rid of Saddam in 1991. He answered, "Paul, fill in the blanks. The minute Saddam is toppled, all the Iraqis will rush out into the street with their BLANK and exercise their long tradition in BLANK. Unless you really believe you can fill in those blanks with BALLOTS and DEMOCRACY, you have your answer." This doesn't mean that Iraq cannot become a functioning democracy or that that is not a legitimate and desirable goal. It does mean that those administering a post-Saddam Iraq should not be naive; it will take time. It will cost money. It will require a lot of help. It may well be a gradual, step-wise process. Everyone on every side will need a lot of patience.The State Department obviously knows this and wants those who expect free and fair elections a few weeks or months after the liberation of Iraq to "Curb their enthusiasms" a bit".

Ronald Hilton - 3/12/03