One More Article To Come
A 7th and an 8th article will deal directly with Iraq's transforming prospects, much of which now hinge perilously on the ability of the US occupying forces to quell the existing terrorism and limited insurrection, either by the direct use of force or --- an encouraging sign in itself --- the use of local Iraqi forces as in Fallujah to take over at least a large share of responsibility for maintaining security. Will those Iraqi forces, led by a former Baathist general, do what the general and the local leaders in Fallujah promised to do: disarm the insurrectionists, isolate and turn over the terrorists, and maintain law and order?
Right now, nobody can say.
What is pretty clear by now --- a point we'll hammer home in the 7th article --- is that there aren't many Iraqis to develop a democratic Iraq: rather, religious and ethnic sects, plus tribal divisions within them: Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite. When we get around to clarifying this point, we'll draw on what we've learned about democratic transformation from the successful military interventions of the US and its NATO allies in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s . . . another area of the world, it was said, incorrigibly prone to ethnic hatred and warfare, unable to evolve in democratic ways. The Austro-Hungarians had learned that; the Ottomans just as long --- or so we were told; and then so had Yugoslav's leader, Milosevik and his demagogic government, after Marshall Tito's death in the 1980s.
The doomsters, as it turned out, were wrong about the Balkans. They may be wrong too about Iraq and some of the other Arab countries.
THE ECONOMIST'S RANKING OF DEMOCRATIC PROSPECTS
An unusually stimulating list of indices for ranking the Arab countries' democratic prospects appeared last month in the admirable British weekly, The Economist. Its table is reproduced directly from that article, and all references should be strictly to it, not the buggy site.
Illuminating as The Economist's measures are, note right off that they have a drawback: they don't have some non-Arab control countries --- say, Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia or Bangladesh in South Asia or Indonesia in SE Asia, never mind Turkey in the Middle East itself --- as comparisons. The three latter countries are overwhelmingly Muslim, with tiny non-Muslim minorities; Bosnia is nearly 50% Muslim, with about 37% of the remaining population Serbs and 13% Croat. All four are electoral democracies; at least one of them, Turkey, is clearly near the fuzzy borderline between electoral democracies and more solid liberal ones. It's a strange, regrettable drawback.
What to do about it?
Fortunately, we can offset it to an extent . . . even though there's no direct way for the buggy prof to parallel the kinds of rankings that The Economist uses. No surprise. That admirable weekly isn't a scholarly journal that sets out explicitly its methodologies. Even so, there are other sources that more or less parallel The Economist rankings that we can draw on to compare the prospects of the Arab countries with those of the four Muslim electoral democracies just mentioned.
So, here for what it's worth --- transposing the rankings of the four countries just mentioned in terms that approximate, let us hope, The Economist's measures --- are how they would compare with the table above.
|Country||Political Rights||Press Freedom||Rule of Law (Corruption)||Religious Freedom||Women's Rights||Economic Openness||Total|
The sources for this table, note, are a mixture taken from Freedom House and World Audit. The latter organization is a composite that draws from Freedom House, Transparency International, and two or three other sites that deal with media freedom and so on.
The rule of law in this table is proxied by corruption, which is measured around the world each year by Transparency International through the use of survey techniques. For economic openness, the CIA World Factbook allows for a guess, nothing more. For women's rights, the same site has information on women's literacy and longevity compared to men's, and then you can make guesses for women's participation in politics based on whether there are women in prominent elected office.
Use the Ranking Scores or Data with Caution
Yes, use with caution for a couple of reasons.
First off, both tables here are going to involve guesswork, the buggy prof's probably even more so . . . especially with the need, given The Economist's scale from 1-10, to transpose Freedom House's and World Audit's measures. They rank countries democratic performance on an inverted scale of 1-10, with 1 the best score and 10 the worst. You'll notice that in the next section of this commentary, where Freedom House's overall ranking for 120 countries is set out. Meanwhile, if it helps to make sense of the two tables, consider that the top 20-25 industrial democracies in West Europe and the English-speaking world would each have a total score, on all six categories, somewhere in the high 50's or 60's.
Second, even without guesswork of this sort, the numerical scores in each category and the totals for the countries should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Despite the numerical measures from 1-10, these are what we call ordinal --- or ranked --- data. They are not strictly quantitative (interval) data. Meaning?
Well, this: if you look at the category for press freedom in The Economist's table, Morocco is given a score of "6" and Jordan "3". That does not mean that Morocco's press freedom is twice that of Jordan's. The fact is, we just don't know; all we can say is that a score of 6 is better than 5, 5 better than 4, 4 better than 3, and so on. If, to clarify further, one country scored a perfect "10" for press freedom --- say, Denmark if the measures were applied to them --- we couldn't say that the press was 10 times freer in Denmark than in Libya with its "1". It could be twice as great in freedom than Libya's --- with, say, a score "6" for Morocco 30% better than Libya's 1 --- or it could be a 100 times greater. There is just no way to be sure here.