: Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post uses the example of East Germany to say that even the smoothest transition to democracy isn’t a one-month affair. It takes a generation. That’s a lesson for Iraq.

  • The situations of East Germany and Iraq are not comparable. East Germany didn’t; degenerate into blood-soaked chaos. Iraq’s situation is more like that of Lebanon in 1975. Lebanon is doing reasonably these days, so there are grounds for hope for Iraq. Its demographic makeup parallels that of Lebanon.
    And bloodshed needn’t mean that democracy can’t be gained in less than a generation. East Timor only recently was devastated by Indonesia’s troops and is doing fairly well these days and its people are committed to democracy.
    East Germany, true, has its problems. But Poland and the Baltics are thriving democracies as is Taiwan, which was poorer at one time than Iraq is today and was taking in war-weary refuges from mainland China by the thousands. Capable leadership makes a huge difference. Singapore had it. Taiwan had it. Cambodia didn’t and so on.

  • I agree with Hope (above) that a comparison of Iraq to East Germany would be very sobering, and I would hope instead to look to the other nations of eastern Europe. However, the former DDR’s aggressive secret police (and its status as a cold war proxy state) may make it the better parallel for predictions about Iraq.

  • Keith

    I think that the only ones that don’t understand that building democracy takes a long time are the media.
    I think everyone else, everyone with some common sense, understands this.

  • Cattherine

    I agree with Keith and a more accurate analogy would be Germany and Japan after WW2.
    It was also worse. It was bloodier, they were physically, economically and mentally destroyed. Particularly for Japan because they had never experienced democracy at all and the transition was from deification of their Emporer and militarianism to self rule and democracy.

  • Wasn’t there a poll out where 20% of Germans wish reunification hadn’t happened?