At this stage of my life, I find myself quite the cynic. In some ways I guess life does that. However this morning I woke up very hopeful for the people in Iraq. My guess is there will be many killed it is and has been the nature of Iraq for decades now. I have no idea how this will turn out in the long run, but there are some signposts. Germany and Japan are two frequently mentioned successful examples, versions of our system were forced on both of them. Poland, Czechoslovakia are two more modern examples, where the people demanded their freedom and rights. Russia may well be an example of where things are not turning out so well. There is also a chart that shows where the trends have been, which is quite amazing: http://www.freedomhouse.org/reports/century.html But looking over that chart, again one is filled with hope tempered by caution. I guess my hope is in seeing some of the commonalities of those governments where the people actually have more freedom and wealth and hope than they did under their prior systems. Some of those commonalities that strike me: * a more eduated populace * a citizenry willing to stand for their rights * desire and wherewithal to develop natural resources * a younger population * some history of self-determination * a history of looking 'outward' to other governments and cultures The examples of where democratic governments have not been as successful or where 'the jury is still out' lack most of the above, but also have some of the following: * A long history of totatalitarian control, from within that country, NOT imposed upon it. * A lack of developing available resources over a lengthly period of time. * A modern history of a lack of a 'middle class', for want of a better term. Iraq mostly falls into the former group. They are an educated people and Saddam was seen as a national nightmare, to all but those who benefitted by his reign of terror. He was the uneducated one, imposing through force his will upon the people. Stalin was all that and perhaps more. The Russian people though, had tolerated continued serfdom centuries past the rest of Europe. There was always a ruling elite in Russia, from governing to the arts. Illiteracy was historically high, until the communist schools were set up. Japan on the other hand had been looking outward, searching for a better way to protect it's tiny culture since the Meiji Revolution. Granted they had a bit of a 'supercharge' there in between the wars, but considering the length of time they decided to look outward, it seems their learning curve on both successes and learning from failures was very high. Iraq fits into this example in many ways. Even under Saddam, many of the educated people managed to get their children out to experience something else. Consider the number of Iraqis now voting from outside of Iraq. They were not willing to stay under his fist, no matter how high the cost might be to those left behind. Considering even the Enfranchisment movements in the US, women had been fighting for the right to vote prior to the Civil War, though many put their 'cause' aside to fight for abolition. Later to pick it up again, succeeding after WWI. True enfranchisment for Blacks took longer and was more violent, but they were willing to pay the price, no matter how high. All things considered, I am hopeful for Iraq. For its people and also for the region. There were many reasons to make Iraq the starting point.