Ho, Ho, Ngo Dinh Diem!

Ralph Peters says we must save Iraqi democracy and curb Iraqi death squads by engineering a military coup. Juntas, of course, being well-known for their habit of abjuring extra-judicial violence. More than the low quality of the policy advice, however, the notable thing here is that Peters, like a surprisingly large number of enthusiasts for the cause of Arab democracy, views events in the Middle East mostly through racism-tinged glasses: "As dearly as we believe in democracy, Iraq's Arabs are proving that they're incapable of the political, social and moral maturity necessary to run an elected government."

Sure, sure, they're immature. Like children. The only thing they understand is force. Sure.

Couldn't it possibly be the case that high levels of ethnic and sectarian pluralism are intrinsically difficult for polities to overcome? That the history of, say, Spain has been marked by a high degree of tension -- including violence and even civil war around questions of secularism and the relationship of Catalonia and the Basque Country to the central government.