Democracy, whisky, sexy

That was the triumphalist warblogger rallying cry for awhile (after something an exuberant Iraqi man was quoted as saying in some newspaper article). Well, once again, it appears that reality isn’t quite living up to the fantasies of the short attention span crowd (remember their great enthusiasm for the liberated people of Afghanistan?), at least according to Nicholas Kristoff:

An iron curtain of fundamentalism risks falling over Iraq, with particularly grievous implications for girls and women. President Bush hopes that Iraq will turn into a shining model of democracy, and that could still happen. But for now it’s the Shiite fundamentalists who are gaining ground.

Already, almost every liquor shop in southern Iraq appears to have been forcibly closed. Here in Basra, Islamists have asked Basra University (unsuccessfully) to separate male and female students, and shopkeepers have put up signs like: “Sister, cover your hair.” Many more women are giving in to the pressure and wearing the hijab head covering.

“Every woman is afraid,” said Sarah Alak, a 22-year-old computer engineering student at Basra University. Ms. Alak never used to wear a hijab, but after Saddam fell her father asked her to wear one on the university campus, “just to avoid trouble.”

Extremists also threatened Basra’s cinemas for showing pornography (like female knees). So the city’s movie theaters closed down for two weeks and reopened only after taking down outside posters and putting up banners, like this one outside the Watani Cinema: “We do not deal with immoral movies.”

— snip —

Women did relatively well under Saddam Hussein (when they weren’t being tortured or executed, penalties that the regime applied on an equal opportunity basis). In the science faculty at Basra University, 80 percent of the students are women. Iraq won’t follow the theocratic model of Iran, but it could end up as Iran Lite: an Islamic state, but ruled by politicians rather than ayatollahs. I get the sense that’s the system many Iraqis seek.

“Democracy means choosing what people want, not what the West wants,” notes Abdul Karim al-Enzi, a leader of the Dawa Party, a Shiite fundamentalist party that is winning support in much of the country.

Whisky and sexy aren’t exactly growth stocks in Iraq right now, and what democracy there will end up looking like is anybody’s guess. In other words, the real world is complicated and poorly considered actions are often subject to the law of unintended consequences. But hey — it’s more fun to repeat crazy slogans than think about things like that, right? Whisky, sexy, democracy, whoopee!

(A small tip: if, like me, you are occasionally compelled to check in on the warbling blogs, try filtering them through the Shizzolater. It makes the whole experience much more tolerable somehow.)