Dog days in Iraq

Rory Stewart, a youngish British soldier and diplomat, served as interim governor of a remote Iraqi province between September 2003 and June 2004. He’s written an account of his experiences which provides compelling evidence of the futility of the US’s ‘democratising’ mission in that benighted country. There’s a good review of the book by Robert Skidelsky in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. This deadpan passage in the review caught my eye:

An American expert on democracy came from Baghdad to do some “capacity building” with the new council. He drew an oblong box to represent the council, beneath it four boxes to represent its committees. “He is drawing a dog,” muttered one sheikh. “Welcome to your new democracy,” said the democracy expert. At this, “two of the sheikhs walked out”.