Do states need governments? 6

At present, every country in the world is over-governed.

The Covid pandemic made it easy for governments to impose authoritarian rules on entire populations.

Seth J. Frantzman raises the question whether governments are necessary in an article at Middle East Forum, which we quote in part.

It is about Iraq, which seems to be functioning well enough without a central governing authority.

Iraq’s non-leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who usually makes headlines for being unwilling to take charge of anything despite having the support of millions of Iraqis, withdrew his party’s 73 parliamentarians, making it harder for Iraq to form a government.

The miracle of Iraq is that, after years of political chaos, it continues to function despite having no real leaders.

At first glance, Iraq might be considered one of the first post-states, proof that people can live without governments. However, this assessment breaks down upon recognition that the country has been taken over, at least in part, by Iran in the center and south, and by Turkey in parts of the north.

Between these two powerful neighbors there are other governments, including the wealthy, stable, and relatively powerful Kurdistan autonomous region. There is also the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, the system of militias that run parts of Iraq. And there is a competent counter-terrorism force.

A competent counter-terrorism force! In the same country where Iran rules in the center and south, forcing its will on the population with a “system of militias”!

Still, Iraq is something of a miracle because it has gone from once being a stable and wealthy state governed by the genocidal maniac Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, to living under sanctions in the 1990s, to the US invasion of 2003, to the chaos of insurgency and then ISIS genocide in 2014, and now non-leadership.

Frantzman provides a description of governmental confusion worse confounded. The central government is dissolving away.

The Kurds are threatening to withdraw from the political process and return to undeclared independence.

The clash with the Kurds over the management of the oil fields in northern Iraq has become a constitutional clash. This prompted the Kurdish leaders to suggest that they would be the first to leave the political process, unless their demands regarding the independence of Kurdistan’s oil wealth from the authority of the center were met.

So Al-Sadr found all options closed. He couldn’t get Kurdish parties on board; he didn’t have Iran’s backing.

Yet, Frantzman repeats, the country continues to remain relatively stable despite the absence of any real leaders.

Which prompts the question: could a country be well managed, could freedom be reliably protected, if there were only local councils to make laws, and a central office of co-ordination?

Posted under government, Iraq by Jillian Becker on Friday, June 24, 2022

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