"This is the new Iraq," said Hachim Hassani, the assembly's recently elected speaker, "where a Kurdish citizen is elected president of the country and a sitting Arab president will become his deputy. What more could the world want from us?" — Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer
Well, many people are looking at these events and thinking that we've begun down the road to Iraqi democracy. Others are thinking that it can never happen and that we need to pull out and leave Iraq to the whims of those left behind. How long has it been since we invaded Iraq and deposed their dictator? Two years + a couple weeks hasn't been long enough to provide the new government the foundation necessary.
I agree with those who do not want our troops in harms way. I agree with those who want our troops to come home. On the other hand, I want the Iraqi people to have every opportunity to have the freedoms I enjoy. I think if we look at history to see how long it takes to build a stable democracy, the perspective might provide some relief for those who consider two years too long.
After winning the Independence War, how long did it take to elect George Washington as the United States' "first" president? Although I do not remember covering this in my U.S. History classes, I'll give most the benefit of the doubt. The following review will be solely for my benefit.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by John Hancock on July 4, 1776 - the others followed suite in August of that same year. Amidst military mayhem (the loss of the Southern States to the British, former Continental Congress President Henry Middleton swearing his allegiance to the King, and Benedict Arnold burning Richmond after accepting a general’s commission in the British Army) the States managed to rally and finally ratify the first constitution in 1781 – The Articles of Confederation. The United States was established as a Perpetual Union just in time as our friends and foes alike accepted the unanimously ratified Articles of Confederation as evidence of one united country. Almost immediately France threw her military might behind General Washington enabling the decisive Victory at Yorktown. The United States had won the war but stability would not be hers, not yet.
In 1781, despite winning Independence militarily, we had an almost helpless unicameral (single branch) government that nearly failed to administer the governmental affairs of the United States. The monetary system nearly collapsed and by the summer of 1783 Pennsylvania Soldiers mutinied holding the entire United States in Congress Assembled its president Elias Boudinot hostage in Independence Hall. President Arthur St. Clair and Col. Alexander Hamilton worked together to get the mutineers to back down and the released congress fled, reconvening in Princeton where they were protected by the New Jersey militia.
Widespread injustices penetrated the courts, taxes, voting and intrastate duties and laws through 1786. Most considered dissolving the Perpetual Union of the United States of America. In 1786, the Annapolis Convention to revise the Articles of Confederation collapsed and a citizen insurgence known as Shays’ Rebellion flared up. Shays’ Rebellion was not put down until March 1787.
The military provided the protection the United States in Congress Assembled needed to gather and revise the Articles of Confederation in Philadelphia in May 1787. This time, George Washington accepted the Presidency of the Constitutional Convention. That convention produced an entirely new plan for the Federal Government – The United States Constitution. This new government was finally established in 1789 a full thirteen years after independence was declared in 1776.
Considering our own history, most people are expecting significantly more from Afghanistan and Iraq than what our forefathers accomplished. I think we need to continue to help these young governments grow and strengthen without losing hope or sight of the great cause for which they are struggling. Bring our troops home but not before it is time and these new governments can support themselves.