Will Wilkinson has written an excellent Tech Central Station article, explaining the greatest challenge we face in our quest to help transform Iraq into a modern, liberal, capitalist country.
In order for that to happen, there needs to be a wide-spread moral infrastructure that views respecting property rights and honoring contracts, the rule of law (and, I think, tolerating offensive non-aggressive behavior and speech) as important. This goes against longstanding traditions in many places.
This moral infrastructure is something that we can’t buy, build, or force upon people. It has to come about as changes in people’s thinking and behavior.
Many of us hope, and the president seems to believe, that people will jump at the chance to adopt this perspective once it has been explained because people are rational and liberty is so valuable.
I think this ideology is best and will prevail in the long run; but bad traditions are difficult to overcome. Nobody seems to know the best way to grow these changes, but, perhaps, this experience in Iraq will help improve our knowledge in this vital area.