I was against the war from the get go and hardly think any gain is worth the cost, in lives and treasure and oh so more, but there is one triumph in Iraq, and that’s newspapers.
Seems there are now hundreds of local newspapers in Iraq, written in the many dialects spoken by the many disparate groups. You see, in Arab speaking countries the elite write and read in the formal language, that is no longer spoken in homes. Indeed, there are hundreds of different Arabic dialects spoken in homes, but these languages are seen as a sign of not being in the educated class, they are not respected, no literature written in them, and no translations of literature into them. (It’s similar to our condition centuries ago, when the educated learned and wrote in Latin.)
Therefore, for the huge majority of Arab speakers, there is nothing to read in a language they can understand.
Used to be that way in Greece, up until after WWII the newspapers were in the educated tongue, and that was hard for even educated Greeks to slog through, much less the workers. Not anymore, now Greek newspapers are in the spoken, mother, tongue, but in Greece there were only two, in Arabic speaking countries there are many.
That problem has been solved, kind of, in Iraq, but no where else. In those repressive Arabic countries the culture is transmitted either through schools or through mosques, and the religious leaders aren’t the best educated or the smartest. For most school isn’t an option (until the students have learned formal Arabic, which is a very small percentage who are then academics), so nothing but mosques transmit culture.
So, good for Iraq, now maybe some of those newspaper readers will start writing, and maybe some of them who speak English or French or Russian or whatever will start translating, and the people of Iraq will have a chance to transmit their culture without state interference. How can you respect yourself if your language gets no respect?
There are building blocks to democracy and one of them is reading in your own spoken language. Another is forming trade unions and cooperatives, but I’d be glad if those countries we coddle cause we need their oil would start local schools in local tongues and do local translation projects, cause I’m rather certain they won’t allow hundreds of local newspapers, which is a sign of free speech, or trade unions. IMO