John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Iraq Elections

Posted on March 8, 2010
It wasn’t as exciting as the first time that Iraq held democratic elections, but it was probably more significant.

I asked my friend Alex Mistri, who spent a year in Iraq working at the highest levels of the American government, what these elections mean to him.

He told me two things.

First, Iraq is slowly but surely becoming a model of democracy in the Middle East.

Second, that having Iraq become a model of democracy is actually a threat to the Iranians, even if the Iranians have some influence on some of the political parties today.

As Alex puts it:   "The road ahead in Iraq no doubt remains uncertain.  But the Iraqis have once again demonstrated - not through word but action - their appetite for representative government.  Increasingly, it must enter the international consciousness - if it hasn't already - that Iraq is becoming the most democratic nation in the region.”

As it turns out, President Bush might have been on to something with his crazy belief that a place like Iraq could handle democracy.  Alex asked the question, “Might the 'quixotic' aims of the previous administration still be within reach?"

To see the Iraqis actually make good on the promise of democracy must drive the Persians next door crazy, especially those Persians who have a vested interest in keeping the current leadership in power.

Mr. Mistri said it more eloquently than I could:  "I dispute those who continue to point to Iran as the prevailing beneficiary of war in Iraq.  It defies common sense that legitimate, successful elections on Iran's doorstep are a good thing for its thuggish theocrats."

Alex feels so strongly about the promise of Iraq that he is looking for ways to invest in its future.  And think about it.  Iraq has great natural resources, an intelligent and educated work force, a history of religious pluralism, and a central location that can serve as a gateway to Asia, Africa and Europe.

If you are an investor who is looking for a place to do business in the Middle East and you wanted to reach a broad swath of the Islamic world, and you have the choice of democratic Iraq, a theocratic Iran or a theocratic Saudi Arabia, where would you put your money?

Eventually, should Iraq continue to develop democratically, it could not only become a great model to other Arabs yearning to be free, it could also become a great opportunity for all entrepreneurs yearning to be rich.

Alex Mistri, who felt so strongly about serving in Iraq that he convinced his blonde wife to color her hair and join him over there, now feels equally strongly that Iraq is going down the right path towards democracy and that in the future, it may be a great place to do business.

It used to be fashionable to joke about President Bush and question not only his smarts but also his sanity, especially when it came to Iraq.  It may be fashionable in the future to acknowledge that the former President just might have been right in his vision of a free, democratic and prosperous Iraq.   Alex Mistri certainly thinks so.

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