Here is a piece by the Iraqi scholar and democrat Kanan Makiya on the outlook for Iraq, writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute before the death of Zarqawi. He has plenty of negative things to say but also some hopeful ones. To wit:
"The battle of ideas has only just begun. We have a long way to go. But one can feel, among young Arabs in particular, that finally the region is on the move. Of course, we can't predict the outcome. The Iraqi elections have produced a National Assembly that is, after much procrastination, in the end creating a government. And they produced a document, the new, albeit incomplete and faulty, permanent constitution of Iraq, that wrestles with the question of what it means to be an Iraqi. . . .
"The insurgency has no chance of winning; it has no program to which to win people over. It will in the end be defeated, not by the U.S. Army alone but by the people of Iraq. Increasingly the Iraqis are fighting back; the United States is needed, but its presence is less and less the reason for the bloodshed. The only question that has a bearing on whether or not this war was worth fighting is what kind of an Iraq will the defeat of the insurgency leave behind.
"While it will be a long time before Iraq is a democracy as we understand that word, we can say a few things about the new Iraq that is being born. It will not threaten or attack its neighbors; it will be a greatly decentralized state; and it will represent a new regional model of statehood and nation-formation, one that in all likelihood offers its citizens a variety of lifestyles and models to choose from within the very same Iraq that once knew only the totalizing Arabism of the Baath."
Read the whole thing.