Last week I attended a panel discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace entitled “Lessons Learned from Iraq and How they Apply to North Africa.” The panel featured the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Stuart Bowen, who discussed his office’s final publication, “Learning from Iraq,” along with three other experts on the subject.The report, along with the corresponding panel, provided some answers to questions surrounding the Iraqi reconstruction project and raised questions about the future of stabilization and reconstruction operations.
While doing research for an article on the U.S. and democratization in Iraq, I was recently led to James C. Scott’s book Seeing Like a State. In the final chapter, Scott explores two types of knowledge: metis, or practical knowledge, and techne, or technical knowledge. In keeping with my current research subject of democratization, I began to question how democracy fits into this dichotomy.
Below are my thoughts on this subject. It is a long read (my apologies) but it is a subject that I feel deserves a close look due to its direct implications with our adventure in Iraq and future policy.