Dr. iRack looks at the prospects for democracy in Iraq:
Although democracy is often touted as a solution to conflict, that is not quite right. Democracy is, by its nature, a system designed to invite and encourage conflict over power and resources. It does so for a reason: conflict is good. It drives competition, innovation, and progress. But democracy only serves these purposes if conflict is kept within peaceful bounds. This requires a commitment among the parties to democratic norms–that is, it requires losers to accept their losses (and vow to compete, peacefully, another day), and it requires winners to not seek to permanently exclude the losers. The danger in Iraq at the moment is that democratization is a work in progress, and escalating political conflict is occurring within a fragile state just starting to recover from civil war. In a country of 27 million people in which every household owns an automatic rifle and (nearly) every political party has its own militia, what are the prospects that this competition will stay within peaceful bounds?