Sunday, March 27, 2005

Checks and Balances

As the Iraqis set up a new government and we pay close attention to the negotiations between Shias and Kurds with the Sunnis considered too, let us not forget that the real check to abuse of power by the central government is not the three main ethnic/religious groups, but the local governments:

When villagers saw the cloud of dust from an approaching U.S. convoy, they hoped Iraq's new powerbrokers had come to solve problems: a broken well, a dilapidated school. But the U.S. soldiers, mindful that their eventual departure hinges on robust local governments, directed villagers to local officials and elected representatives — a mind-bending concept for Iraqis formerly accustomed to all power flowing from Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

I like it that we are not merely trying to reform the center. Even a well managed center is a center that can be taken and misused as Saddam shows. But diffuse power and the habit of self-rule to the far corners of Iraq and a future strongman wannabe will have to contemplate more than just a palace coup to gain control of the country.

Bend their minds. Break the dependency on Baghdad.