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Posted: 5/7/2003 6:42:56 PM EDT

More on "law and order" in Iraq
David Plotz is writing a series of articles in Slate on rebuilding civil society in Iraq.

The problem is

not merely how to introduce "democracy" to Iraq—democracy, after all, is as easy as holding an election—but how to bring about a liberal, constitutional democracy—a popular government that also protects the rule of law and basic rights. It's a noble ambition and a preposterously difficult one: If there is anything that democracy experts agree on, it's that you can't easily manufacture the conditions for liberal democracy. No quick fix replaces the hard work of building trust in laws, establishing checks and balances, encouraging civil debate, and so on. Recent attempts to impose democracy in countries such as Cambodia, Bosnia, and Angola have failed dismally.

Still, the experimentation in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and Africa has produced a bunch of new ideas about how to build a genuine democracy faster and smarter.

Plotz then lists 7 ideas, including:
Establish rule of law and an independent judiciary before elections. There's a tendency in democracy-building to mistake elections for a stable democratic government. Every state requires order first. . . . The judiciary—which guarantees that order—must precede the elected government.

I previously linked to several articles about the necessity for rule of law in Iraq as a pre-condition for establishing trackable property rights which in turn support stable democracy and a market economy. Plotz' next article has some suggestions for establishing law and order.

The next article has suggestions for encouraging the voluntary civil associations celebrated by de Tocqueville, which actually get most of the work done, increase citizen confidence, and act as a check on government power.

Stay tuned for the rest of the series.

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