Urbin Report

Monday, April 26, 2004

Here is a very good email to Andrew Sullivan comparing Iraq to South Africa. I've been to South Africa, and I think the author has it pegged:

"In reading articles marking 10 years since the end of South Africa apartheid, I was struck by the similarities between that country’s struggle since liberation and the current struggle since the liberation of Iraq. Likewise, I was struck by the relative silence of the left on the real problems South Africa has faced in the past 10 years.
In the early 1990’s, the movement against apartheid was one of the most passionate cause of the American left. The struggle for freedom is South Africa ended on April 27th 1994 when over 90% of the people of that country went to the polls to elect the first democratic government the country had ever seen. Since that time, South Africa has been one of the most, if not the most, dangerous place to live on the planet.
In 1998 for instance, South Africa led the world with a recorded 59 murders per hundred thousand citizens (source: Interpol). By comparison, the United States had 6 per hundred thousand that year; England had 1, France 4, and Russia 21. The closest to South Africa was Colombia, with 56.
Presently, although crime seems to have abated, the country is still racked with problems. An estimated 20.1% of the population has AIDS, 50% of the population is below the poverty line, and 37% of the population is unemployed. The current life expectancy is 46.56 years.
Now, very few people on any side of the political spectrum would argue that South Africa was "better off" under apartheid. Yet, those that oppose our war in Iraq often bitterly complain that the Iraqis are not better off. Both countries, when liberated, were coming from oppressive governments with people unaccustomed to the democratic process. It has taken ten years to get South Africa to the still troubled, but gradually improving, state it is currently in. Why is so much expected of Iraq so quickly? Apparently, the left's criterion for democratic progress is a double standard."