Megan argues that Iraq’s lack of democratic tradition does not mean democracy can’t be established there. She offers 1945 Germany and Japan as exhibits A and B. She is correct. However, as I note in her comments section, it will be quite difficult: The advantages Germany and Japan had were many: An educated society, lots of experience with running a successful industrial economy, relatively homogeneous societies (and thus few reinforcing cleavages) and a large infusion of cash from the US.
Iraq has lots of money–the oil revenues will come gushing back in as soon as UN santions are lifted–and a relatively secular culture by Arab standards. But they also have the huge problem of competing Islamic cultures and the issue of Kurdish nationalism. I think it’s doable, but it’s going to take years of work. And it could collapse at any point if a man on horseback (camelback?) emerges as the result of one of the early elections before true democracy becomes institutionalized.