MAJOR K. RECENTLY ATTENDED A MEETING OF IRAQI SHEIKHS and reports that the meeting has a familiar look, that of a typical meeting between leaders in a burgeoning democracy.
There was plenty of arguing about security, the tactics of the Iraqi Army, and the Sheikhs using their influence to root out the arhabi in their neighborhoods and report them to the Iraqi authorities.
Our interpreter was struggling to keep up with the number of people speaking. As usual, almost everyone was looking out for themselves, but the key was this. No one got shot, stabbed, slapped, punched or thrown out a window.
In fact, they Iraqi leaders of the meeting admonished everyone to watch their tone and be respectful toward each other in spite of their disagreements. Just like meetings back in America, much more was said than was actually accomplished, but the fact the these folks are getting together without being at gunpoint is another sign that we're moving in the right direction.
Can there be any better sign of the direction Iraq is heading than a roomful of bureaucrats arguing self-interests and accomplishing very little?
In America it's called democracy in action. It's called "the system." It's even called beautiful at times, an example to the world that people of differing minds can work out their differences peaceably. In Iraq it is called "quagmire," and "disaster," and "illegitimate."