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[casi] News, 1-8/10/03 (3)

News, 1-8/10/03 (3)


*  Educators fired for being Baath Party members upset
*  Baghdad University President dismissed for not excluding Ba'athist
*  Schools reopen in Iraq
*  'Iraqi Legal System Needs Time to Recover'
*  Iraq Awards Mobile Network Contracts
*  Back To School, No Anti-Occupation Books


*  'Iraq is not a lost battle. We should not sit idle'
*  Why we are winning in Iraq
*  A land ruled by chaos
*  Iraq will be poor 'for years'
*  Welcome benign US imperialism


Chicago Tribune, 1st October

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shallal Mizher sees himself as a victim of his high rank in
the Iraqi Baath Party.

For 27 years, he climbed the party ladder, making his way from a lowly cadre
and English teacher to the fourth-highest level in Saddam Hussein's
political apparatus. One more step up and he would have been a full-time
employee of the Baathist party machine.

Instead, Mizher and some 6,000 to 12,000 teachers, principals and
educational directors have been fired by order of the U.S.-led coalition,
and Mizher, a 51-year-old career educator with two children in college, is
crying foul.

"We served the country (under Saddam)," Mizher said. "But not all of us are

As schools open this week for the first full year after Saddam's fall, not
only his curricula but also many of the educators who indoctrinated students
with his message will be absent.

U.S. officials say the mass purges of Iraq's Baathist teachers are necessary
to curb the influence of the old regime in the new Iraq. But Iraq's suddenly
unemployed teachers and school administrators, backed by some of the
country's political elite, describe the policy as unfair and chaotic.

Ridding the government of so many people at once, they say, has emasculated
the ministries and demolished the army and police - the very structures
Iraqis need to rebuild a country devastated by decades of dictatorship and

Thousands have been left with no source of income, and those who remain have
been forced to work from scratch. Four months after the order was issued by
top U.S. civilian administrator Paul Bremer, the country is still

"It is an unnecessary ideological attachment to the concept of
de-Baathification," said Sharif Ali, a cousin of Iraq's last king, who heads
the Constitutional Monarchy movement and is a critic of the U.S.-led
coalition's handling of post-Hussein Iraq.

"It has caused fear and resentment among the bureaucracy," Ali said. "We
have 150,000 (U.S.) troops and a political elite starting from zero."

Some school administrators praise the mass firings as a move in the right
direction. A turnover of teachers can be done quickly, they say, because
thousands of newly graduated teachers as well as teachers who refused to
join the Baath Party have been tapped to take their place.

"They are returning in droves," said Hind Rassam, an adviser with a USAID
project called RISE that is helping to revamp the school curriculum.

At a human-rights conference held in Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq last week,
representatives of Iraq's 18 regions discussed ways to rid Iraq's
educational system of references to Saddam Hussein.

They have little pity for those who joined a party that forced elementary
students to sing songs in praise of Hussein and high school students to
practice Arabic grammar using Hussein's speeches as texts.

"Education is very sensitive," said Abdel-Aziz Taib, the Kurdish minister of
education in Irbil, Iraq, who supports the purge. "The extremists should be
removed. Their influence can affect the new generation, and they will
destroy it."

Ali and others say that idea is nonsense.

"They could have given (the Baath Party members) new instructions, and they
would have said, `Fine, we will get rid of all references to Saddam,' " he

Ali suggested the U.S.-led interim government would have been better off
leaving in place the Baathists who worked for ministries such as education.
Then, he said, the new government could have slowly removed people who had
committed real crimes.

"Why should party officials doing administrative functions be treated the
same as real criminals who murdered people and enriched themselves?" Ali

Some teachers still on the payroll quietly agree with him.

"This is not humanitarian," said Dr. Abdul-Zahra Abbas, a headmaster of a
high school science department.

Last May, Mizher found out he had lost his job when he arrived at the
Ministry of Education in Baghdad, Iraq, one day and saw Bremer's order
posted on the wall along with a list of names of those to be fired. His name
was on the list.

"How can we live?" he asked.

Mizher believes the Baath Party should be able to continue as a party. If
that is not possible, at least the party cadres should be able to stay in
place, he said.

"When the party falls, it doesn't mean everyone in the party should fall,"
Mizher said. "It's just that the people want to take revenge and they
consider all Baath Party officials like Saddam Hussein."

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003

Iraqi interim Higher Education Minister Ziad Abd al-Razzaq has reportedly
dismissed Baghdad University President Sami al-Muzaffar from his position
after al-Muzaffar refused to abide by an Iraqi Governing Council decision to
exclude senior Ba'athists from the university's teaching and administrative
staff, Al-Jazeera reported on 27 September. "Regrettably, [al-Muzaffar]
stood against this [de-Ba'athification] measure despite the fact that I had
called him several times and tried to convince him of implementing the
decision" of the governing council, Abd al-Razzaq said. He added that he
believes al-Muzaffar was keeping professors in their positions because of
personal relations. Al-Muzaffar told the satellite news channel in a 27
September interview that he will not recognize the authority of the interim
minister. "I was not relieved from my duties and [Abd al-Razzaq] has no
authority to discharge me," al-Muzaffar said. "I am a person who was elected
while he is the one who has been appointed." Al-Muzaffar accused Abd
al-Razzaq of sending contradictory orders to the university and denied that
he kept Ba'athists on staff because of personal relations. He said he will
remain at home but added that he considers the dismissal "illegal."
(Kathleen Ridolfo)

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003

Iraqi schools reopened this week, but many schoolchildren will be using old
textbooks, as the U.S.-led administration in Iraq races to get revised
post-Hussein textbooks to classrooms, international media reported. "Some
textbooks are creeping round Al-Basrah, and some are being unloaded, but we
had to get schools started," Bill Evers, a U.S. adviser to the Iraqi
Education Ministry told on 1 October. Evers said that officials at
the Education Ministry were advised to tell teachers to "teach around"
textbook references to deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

UNICEF spokesman Geoffrey Keele told the daily that 40 million out of 66
million new books on order had been printed, with the remainder to be
completed by the end of November. UNICEF and UNESCO were commissioned to
print the books, with $10 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), and another $67 million from the
oil-for-food program. Some 852,000 textbooks were stuck at the Kuwait border
on 30 September, while UNICEF scrambled to find a military escort to bring
the books into Iraq, U.S. officials in Baghdad told

Returning teachers will also see a change. Some 1,200 schools have been
rebuilt or upgraded with an average of $35,000 going to each school, Bechtel
spokesman Francis Canavan told Bechtel was awarded the contract to
rebuild the schools by the U.S. government (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report, 23 May
2003). Teachers are also receiving a pay raise, averaging between $67 and
$335 month. Under the Hussein regime, they were paid between $5 and $13
month, AP reported on 1 October. Portraits of Hussein, which once adorned
the walls of each classroom, are also gone. U.S. 1st Armored Division
soldiers have delivered truckloads of new magic markers, crayons, and
watercolors donated by U.S. military families. USAID is also providing
students with book bags, pencils, and pocket calculators, reported.
According to Reuters, some 4.5 million Iraqi children will head back to the
classroom this week. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 5th October

BAGHDAD, 5 October 2003 (Reuters): Much still needs to be done to rebuild a
functioning legal system in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein and
the months of lawlessness that followed, Iraq's justice minister said
yesterday. "In any country where such a major political collapse takes
place, the legal system cannot restore its activity and stability in such a
short period," Hashem Al-Shibli told Reuters.

"We are in an exceptional situation and only a few months have passed since
the formation of the new state." But he said judges who persevered despite
the former government's efforts to undermine judicial impartiality were
helping Iraq's courts to get back to work ‹ gradually.

Shibli said the authorities in Iraq were working on laws governing the
jurisdiction of a special court set up to rule on crimes and human rights by
members of Saddam's regime. "It will specify these crimes ... and will also
set up special investigative courts to hear crimes committed by the old
regime," he said.

Shibli was speaking after the first postwar meeting of Iraq's Judicial
Council, the country's top judicial body which was disbanded in 1977 during
the rule of Saddam's Baath Party. The council is made up of top judges and
prosecutors, many of whom also served under Saddam. Ministry of Justice
sources said most of the senior judges in civil courts who served during
Saddam's rule have been reinstated back in their jobs.

"We thank ambassador (Paul) Bremer for his enthusiasm in reconstituting this
judicial council in a record period," said Midhat Al-Mahmoud, the new head
of the council. "This is a great victory for justice ... and a bright spot
in the history of Iraqi judiciary that suffered from the old regime's
suspension of many of its laws."

Iraq's legal system is slowly recovering from the chaos that ensued after
Saddam was toppled in April. Most prewar case files have been retrieved
despite large-scale looting of the main Justice Ministry complex.

Although many courts have resumed work, many ordinary people complain about
slowness in delivering justice. Some Iraqis also complain that US troops
working alongside Iraqi police are often too lenient with criminals.
Detainees held by the US military for attacks on their troops were outside
the jurisdiction of Iraqi law, Shibli said.


by Hala Boncompagni
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 7th October 

BAGHDAD, 7 October 2003 (AFP): Iraq yesterday awarded its first national
mobile telephone network contracts to Egypt's Orascom, Atheer Tel and Asia
Cell, both largely Kuwaiti owned, saying it expected the long-awaited GSM
service to begin by the end of the month.

"The companies that will bring Iraq world class mobile communications are in
the northern region Asia Cell consortium; in the central region Orascom and
in the south Atheer Tel," interim Telecommunication's Minister Haidar
Al-Abbadi said.

"The service should start in a few weeks. We have been told by the end of
the month," Abbadi told a news conference.

A mobile phone network was impossible to set up in Iraq during the 1990s due
to UN imposed trade sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein's deposed regime.

Orascom Telecom Holdings SAE is owned by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris and
members of his family. Its other main investors are Alaa El-Khawaja and
Allied SA Ltd.

Asia Cell Telecommunication Co. Ltd. was set up in 1999 and primary
investors include Wataniya Telecom of Kuwait and the United Gulf Bank, a
spokesman said.

The company already has 55,000 subscribers in northern Iraq, the spokesman
told AFP, adding that its new contract will expand its territory to cover
the major population centers of Dohuk, Mosul, Arbil, Sulaimaniyah, Kirkuk
and Tikrit.

He said the infrastructure would have to be in place within 20 days, but
predicted service would start only within two months.

Atheer Telecom Iraq, which will cover the southern region of the country,
has three primary investors: Mobile Telecommunications Company of Kuwait,
Dijla Telecommunications Corporation of Iraq and Kuwait's Khorafi National
construction company. Abbadi stressed that one of the main criterion in
selecting the companies ensuring they had Iraqi shareholders or
participants. For the selected companies the level of Iraqi participation
was between 10 and 50 percent, he said. He said the winners of the contracts
were chosen from among 35 companies which submitted more than 100 bids.

"This is an impressive demonstration of belief by the international business
community in the future of Iraq and its prospects for building a robust
economy," Abbadi said.

He stressed the mobile network would strengthen the war-torn country's

"This will enhance the security of the country," he said, referring to
spotty nationwide communications since US forces entered the country six
months ago and the chaos which followed.

Out of Iraq's 1.1 million land phone lines, not including Kurdistan, 259,000
were rendered inoperable during the war, while 841,000 are functioning.


Islam on Line, 2nd October

Some six million Iraqi students went back to school Wednesday, October 1,
testing their first school year under the U.S.-led occupation, with no
geography, national education or history books, which used to address the
struggle of Arab countries against foreign occupation.

Fearing the state of lawlessness and anarchy plaguing the country since the
fall of Baghdad on April 9, most of the parents escorted their children to

"The Ministry of Education contracted local, Arab and foreign printing
houses to print more than 70 million books to be distributed among
students," Ismail Yehia Abdullah Al-Elwan, a ministry director general, told

"All books have been printed except for those related to social studies," he

On the changes introduced to the books, the Iraqi official asserted that
with respect to scientific books "the only change was removing pictures of
(ousted president) Saddam Hussein, the so-called the leader commandments and
the Baath slogans." Replying to a question on social studies (history and
geography) books, Al-Elwan said "ministry officials have assigned this task
to both UNICEF and UNESCO."

With respect to Islamic education curriculum, the Iraqi official maintained
that "no changes have been made because this is a very sensitive issue and
no one can interfered."

An Iraqi social studies expert, who declined to put his name, told IOL that
the decision by the American supervisor of the Education Ministry to
postpone the distribution of history books in particular is because such
books includes "anti-occupation ideas."

"For example, the history book of the sixth primary grade includes, in seven
of its sections, a review of western occupation of the Arab world by
Britain, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. It also deals with Arab
liberation movements that led to independence," he averred.

The Iraqi expert expected the U.S.-led occupation authority to include the
name of Israel on maps in the school geography books.

An Israeli center said to be specialized in Mid Eastern studies was opened
in the occupied Iraqi capital Baghdad, in a provocative move seen by Iraqi
academics as the beginning of an Israeli scheme to infiltrate the Iraqi

Just as Iraqis have previously protested employing foreigners in oil-related
projects since the fall of Baghdad, it seems Iraqi printing houses had a
tiny slice of the books printing cake. learnt that UNESCO and UNICEF had direct supervision on the
printing of some 70 million books for the primary, intermediate and
secondary stages.

Only 17 millions books were printed by Iraqi printing houses, while the
remaining bulk was printed in Britain, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait; a matter
that irked owners of Iraqi printing houses.

Eng. Mowafaq Abu Hamra, owner of a Baghdad print house, told IOL his was one
of 14 Iraqi print houses contracted to print some of the scientific books.

He affirmed that the pictures and sayings of the deposed president have been
completely removed from all scientific books printed in his printing house.

Abu Hamra also added he signed a contract with UNICEF to print history and
geography books within 45 days, but asserted: "I do not know what kind of
changes will be made." Iraqi education ministry has abolished the national
education curriculum, any mention of Saddam.


by Isam al-Khafaji
Lebanon Daily Star, 1st October

In 1978, a young left-wing intellectual was forced to flee Baghdad.
Twenty-five years later, he returned - but the fight is not over

As a young faculty member and a left-wing intellectual, Isam al-Khafaji was
forced to leave Iraq in 1978 during campaigns of forced Baathification in
higher education and repression of the left. Between that year and the fall
of Saddam Hussein's regime, Khafaji entered Iraq several times
clandestinely, but never his native Baghdad. He taught at the University of
Amsterdam. In 2002, Khafaji participated in the State Department Future of
Iraq workshops - 18 in total - including the "mother of all workshops,"
entitled Transition to Democracy. Later, he accepted the Pentagon's
invitation to be a member of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development
Council (IRDC). On May 9, Khafaji went to Baghdad as one of around 140
expatriates recruited to assist the US with post-war reconstruction
planning. Exactly two months later, extremely frustrated about US reluctance
to share policymaking duties, he submitted his resignation to Deputy
Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Khafaji is now working to establish a
social science research center in Baghdad. Paul Aarts, lecturer in
international relations at the University of Amsterdam, spoke with him on
Aug. 18, 2003, in Uithoorn, the Netherlands.

Q: What made you decide to participate in the workshops and later join the
IRDC in Iraq?
A: I hate to say that we on the left sometimes take a hypocritical approach
of watching events and denouncing "plots of imperialism" without putting our
hands into the filth of everyday work. I had no illusions that I was going
to change things, but at least I could try to make my voice heard. To
participate in the IRDC was the most difficult decision I have made in my
life. It was particularly my son and my wife who encouraged me to take this
job. Was I pleased to do it? No, but I felt that my country was being shaped
and that I should take part in it.

Q: Since then, have you yourself been seen as some kind of collaborator?
A: No, not really. The fact that people get killed - both American soldiers
and Iraqi civilians - doesn't mean that there is a popular Iraqi resistance.
This is no Vietnam. There are very few Iraqis being killed because there are
seen as collaborators, and the number of American casualties is also very
low. If you asked Iraqis whether US troops should leave, the vast majority
would say no. On the other hand, the rising number of attacks has already
forced the Americans to swallow much, not all, of their arrogance. But is
this "resistance?" No. Sometimes we confuse our emotions with the facts. A
real popular resistance does not end up with one or two dead a day - with my
deep sorrow for each life lost. If this were popular resistance, there would
be something like 50 dead a day.

Q: Don't you think that most Iraqis would favor a UN presence instead of
US-British occupation forces?
A: I have asked myself whether I should take that position. But don't forget
that the UN has an extremely bad reputation among Iraqis. For 12 years, the
UN has been seen as the strangler of the people and as a corrupt
organization. If you asked Iraqis about a multinational force, the answer
would depend on which countries would be part of it. The most terrifying
thing is that Arabs would come - not because of some isolationist Iraqi
attitude. Iraqis remember that the Arab regimes have defended Saddam. Up
until now they are defending him.

Q: What were your initial expectations of the IRDC and when did you get
frustrated about its activities?
A: This council was a technocratic, not a political, organ. One of its
ostensible main functions is to overhaul the state structure and bring in
honest, independent people who had been working inside. But we faced two
opposing tendencies within the Bush administration, both of which have
appendages among Iraqi political organizations. One trend is the State
Department, the CIA and "its Iraqis," who wanted to keep changes as limited
as possible. We knew that before the war, when they talked about regime
change, they never inserted the word "democratic." The other trend is
represented by the Pentagon and its people, mainly the Iraqi National
Congress led by Ahmed Chalabi. They had an opposite view, which is no less
dangerous and today, under Paul Bremer, it is being put into practice,
unfortunately. Although it is correct to label the former regime as a
Nazi-type regime, it is wrong to draw from that the conclusion that you need
to eradicate all former Baathists. Not all of them have been bastards! Here,
in particular, we felt disappointed. We thought we would give advice on
which former Baathists would be acceptable. But Bremer's blanket de
Baathification did not allow for much advice.

Q: Does that mean that you were not really advisers?
A: In all fairness, I must say that I was consulted many times and on many
issues. But it is one thing to pick up a phone and ask, "What do you think
of this person?" - which was done from the uppermost level in the palace
(occupied by the Coalition Provisional Authority) down to the lower levels -
and being treated as a real adviser. We reached a point where we started
asking ourselves: Are we informers or advisers? Being an adviser means that
you sit around the committee table devising the orders, but we were
implementing orders without being consulted in their devising. So we were
not seen as advisers, let alone as decision-makers. All the big decisions -
dissolving the Iraqi army and the security apparatus, privatization, oil
policy, the banking system, the restructuring of the media - were made
behind closed doors.

Q: Did you have illusions, before joining the council, that you would have a
A: I want to criticize the use of the word "illusion." It's unfair to say
that our being shunted aside was a foregone conclusion, because it wasn't.
Let me explain. It's one thing to say that there were bad intentions; it's
another to say that it was all foredoomed from the beginning. Our thinking
was like this: We Arabs, we Middle Easterners, we always talked about what
the others want from us; we never tried to think what do we want ourselves.
Now (the war) was coming, whether we liked it or not, can't we find at least
a temporary modus vivendi with what's going on in order to influence it? Was
it possible? Yes, it was possible.

Q: What is it that has made you so optimistic?
A: There was a trend within the Bush administration, especially during the
first days of the war when the fighting was fierce, toward thinking that the
war would take months and months. In that context, it was supposed that US
forces, after reaching Baghdad, would meet a hostile population. So Iraqis
would be badly needed to handle that situation. Given these circumstances,
we did have the thought - not the "illusion" - that we could effect change
for the better. Regrettably, we fell victim to the ease with which the
military campaign was conducted. Because of this and because of the euphoric
mood after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Americans thought: What's the
need for Iraqis? We can do it on our own. This is where it went wrong.

Q: You sent your letter of resignation to Paul Wolfowitz. What is your
opinion about his views on the Middle East? In an interview, you hailed him
as "visionary."
A: Compared to most politicians, he is a great visionary. Of course, you
don't have to share his vision, but when considering your opponents, you
have to admit their points of strength. I am not comparing Wolfowitz to
Saddam Hussein, but can't I say that Saddam Hussein is a great tactician
without loving him?You have to admit that Wolfowitz does not fit into the
stereotype of politicians who are driven by votes and other mundane
interests. He is not like Dick Cheney. Now that is a man of the
multinational corporations, who answers to their interests in a very trivial
sense of the word.

Q: What about the particularities of Wolfowitz's "vision" for the Arab
A: Let's admit that right-wing visionaries can thrive when the left has
resigned its visionary role of changing the world. This became clear to me
in 1997 when the Middle East Institute in Washington organized a conference
on the future of Iraq in which Wolfowitz participated. In the closing
session, we ended up with all the cliches about the instability in the
Middle East. Then Wolfowitz asked for the floor, and began by saying that
"in 1970, there was Hafez Assad in Syria and now there is Hafez Assad. In
1968, there was the Baath in Iraq and now there is the Baath in Iraq. In
1968, there was Yasser Arafat and now there is Yasser Arafat - what a
dreadful stability!" I was saddened and happy at the same time. Isn't that
what the left should have said? How is it that we turned into such a
reactionary force fearing for the stability of the Middle Eastern regimes?
Certainly, the Middle East is a region ripe for change, although the left
and right differ on the mechanisms of change and where change should lead.

Q: Let's talk about mechanisms which have been employed after the war. Are
Iraqis better off under Bremer than they were under Jay Garner?
A: I think that's correct. Garner installed an extremely arrogant regime
under which large numbers of Iraqis were humiliated. More importantly,
Garner and his team were much too focused on keeping "stability," which
implied no de-Baathification. The word even became taboo, at a moment when
every Iraqi was expecting drastic changes. In those days, people started
even seeing a plot between Saddam Hussein and the Americans - evoking
memories of the failed 1991 uprising. When Bremer came, it was a happy day.
But soon it turned out that Bremer's approach of full de-Baathification was
no less erroneous. A lot of Iraqis were alienated and the conditions for a
civil war were laid. His famous decree to demobilize the army was issued
without taking notice of the fact that no less than 60 percent of the
population was already unemployed. By demobilizing the army, he added
400,000 people to their ranks. Multiply that number by four (the average
family size) and you have 1.6 million people thrown into the streets.
Dissolving the army was a big crime. Only after the officers started to
protest did Bremer's staff come to us to ask what they should do. We were
never consulted beforehand.

Q: The Iraqi Governing Council installed by the Coalition Provisional
Authority is sometimes described as "a closed circle of collaborators." I
presume you don't share that view?
A: No, I certainly do not. I have the greatest respect for some of the
council's members, both on a personal level and because of what they
represent politically. What would you have expected these people to do? Just
sit in their homes and talk about occupation? That does not mean, however,
that this council is the best one we could have. First and foremost, there
is a problem of lacking domestic constituency - with some exceptions of
course. Most members do not have any leverage. I fear they will be played
against one another. Finally, I must say that the large number of members
from the formerly exiled opposition parties is a scandal. In many ways, the
inside-outside "divide" is nonsense, but in this instance it is applicable.

Q: Is post-Saddam Iraq lacking in independent institutions or associations
that could serve as agents of governance and transformation? Is it
inevitable that tribal, ethnic and religious identities will predominate?
Some speak about "creeping Talebanization."
A: These views are overstated. Under the Baath regime, the population was
atomized. All kinds of day-to-day social relations have come about, mainly
on the basis of mutual interest. People don't go to the mullah because they
are believers - it is a relationship of interests. Besides, I have met
wonderful administrators and engineers who were the product of the past 35
years and they have reached a point where they themselves realized the
importance of democracy. They are talking about it. One can see many
mid-level businessmen who want to share modernizing ideas. I can see an Iraq
in which tribalism is all but dead in the five major cities, which hold 12
million people out of nearly 30 million. "Tribalism" has mostly become
nothing more than a marriage of convenience. Concerning the so-called return
of religion, I don't deny that Iraqi society - like many others - has become
more conservative. But conservatism is not Islamism. Many people are
treating the Islamic leaders as political figures rather than as
representatives of God. What you can see in Iraq these days, unlike the
situation in Egypt, for instance, is that people are making fun of or
criticizing these leaders, just as happens with any political leader. There
is no fear of the aura of the turban. There is much talk about
"fundamentalism," but the only thing that worries me is Wahhabi influence
through money coming from Saudi Arabia, not necessarily through official
channels. What may happen is the following: the typical Baathist, believing
in the "old" ideology and coming from a provincial background, might indeed
adopt some kind of fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But to speak of "creeping
Talebanization" is too much. Without reducing everything to economics, it
all depends on improving everyday life.

Q: Regarding economics, were you consulted regarding the issue of
A: Yes, I suggested that the issue of privatization should be lifted above
the ideological combat of capitalism versus socialism. There is a kind of
privatization that can lead to a mafia type of (market) economy and that's
where the worst type of fundamentalism would have a chance. So one should
not follow a policy of blanket privatization just because it is fashionable.
One should try to create an atmosphere where maximizing your profit - the
prime motive for every capitalist - in productive assets is possible, but
privatization must be done case by case, because of the consequences of
growing unemployment. Banking and financial markets should also be kept
under strict state control, creating, for a while, a partly protected market
as in South Korea and Taiwan. This is crucial, because once you open the
financial markets, it will be stupid from any capitalist point of view to
invest in industry, the airways or the technology sector. Unfortunately, I
can't see that happening in Iraq. We already have 16 private banks. So far
it is unclear what the CPA is doing, and that is very frustrating.

Q: What about the oil industry?
A: Here I made the suggestion, and this may surprise you, that we should go
back to the way Iraqi oil was dealt with during the monarchy. Oil was still
in the hands of the state, international companies received concessions and,
more importantly, there was a law stipulating that 70 percent of oil
revenues be in the hands of what was called the Construction Board. The
Cabinet was not allowed to use that money for the budget - only the
remaining 30 percent - restraining it from abusing the oil money. The
question is: Can we establish an independent, autonomous body that controls
70 percent of oil revenues for investment purposes only? I think we can do
it. It will not be easy. There are a lot of businessmen who want to make a
quick profit, but who is interested in industrializing Iraq? Here I draw
confidence from the fact that there is a growing number of people -
modernized, secular, with a pan-Iraqi ootlook and often in their 30s - who
are disenchanted with the present situation. Again, don't look at the
mullahs and sheikhs, and say, "This is Iraq." The "70-30" formula is not yet
part of any blueprint for Iraq's oil policy, but the idea is floating

Q: What are the CPA's ideas on oil policy?
A: There is no oil policy under Bremer. From day one, everybody was told
that oil policy comes from the White House. You may remember the fact the
Oil Ministry was the only one which was well-protected during the days of
looting, and that's why we jokingly asked the Americans: "Do you expect to
find oil under the ministry?" Here Dick Cheney comes in, with Halliburton
and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR). The tentacles of KBR are
everywhere in Iraq!

Q: You seem to be remaining quite optimistic.
A: If you asked me if Iraq is a lost battle, I would say no. Let's not lose
confidence in our people. We should not sit idle. The point is that an old
system is dead. We should not repeat the mistake of the Egyptian left - and
many other leftists - in speaking about "the good old days." The old days
were no good. What we have to work on now is not only to denounce what the
Americans bring forward, but develop our own, new plans. These plans should,
of course, be realistic and mobilize the people. This includes the "70-30"

Isam al-Khafaji, a contributing editor of Middle East Report, from which
this article is reprinted with permission, is an Iraqi social scientist


by Frank J Gaffney Jr., 30th September

The characterization of the post-war situation in Iraq as a "failure" - or,
even a "miserable" one - has become so frequently and so vociferously
applied that an observer could be forgiven for believing it is accurate.  It
is not.

I have just returned from a trip facilitated by the U.S. military to
Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit, among other places in Iraq.  The visit featured
in-depth briefings by senior American and Coalition civilian and military
leaders, informal conversations with them and their subordinates and a
chance to interact with a number of Iraqi interim national, regional and
local officials.

Like most others who have had a first-hand chance to take stock of the
situation (to date, executive branch officials and a number of legislators),
I have concluded that - far from a failure - the U.S.- led effort to
consolidate a Free Iraq is on a decided, if still tentative, trajectory for

This conclusion is supported by the following observations:

[1] An improving military situation:  Each of the commanders with whom our
delegation of high-ranking retired U.S. officers and civilian national
security experts met - from the man responsible for the Iraqi theater,
Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez on down - expressed confidence that the
military situation in their areas of responsibility was satisfactory and

To be sure, each was experiencing incidents of various kinds and was
prepared for the possibility of a further intensification of the fighting in
their sectors.  Still, they see evidence of the success of the Coalition's
operations against former regime loyalists in the latters' increasing
reliance upon indirect attacks, involving improvised explosive devices
(IEDs) and mortars.

While these strikes often entail some casualties, they do not, in and of
themselves, pose a significant military threat.  Rather, they seem intended
by an enemy on the defensive to show its continued relevance - in the face
of much evidence to the contrary - by bloodying Coalition forces.  To the
extent that such attacks sometimes actually wind up killing innocent Iraqis
instead, they seem to be further weakening what little support remains even
in Sunni-dominated central Iraq for Saddam Hussein's regime and its

The relatively recent introduction of foreign fighters, principally radical
Wahhabi and other Islamists crossing into Iraq from Syria, Iran and Saudi
Arabia is another complicating factor.  At present, however, the numbers of
such "mujahedeen" have been too small to constitute a real security problem.
Whether they will do so in the future will depend fundamentally on the most
important task at hand - standing up Iraqi security forces - and the
Coalition's ability to support them properly.

[2] An Ever-greater Iraqi "Face":   Civilians in the Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA) and its military counterparts are seized with the urgency of
recruiting, training and empowering Iraqi personnel to take responsibility
for their country's security.  Real progress is being made on this front,

Specifically, Iraqi police are now patrolling with American forces in many
areas and responding to "112" calls - their newly established equivalent to
the American 911 emergency number.  Iraqis are also joining a Civil Defense
Corps, assuming responsibilities for protecting pipelines, electrical grids
and other high-value assets and manning border posts.  Their presence has
not only freed up American and other Coalition forces for missions they are
better suited to perform.  The Iraqi "face" presented to their countrymen
has also greatly improved the availability, quantity and quality of
intelligence needed to avert enemy attacks and eliminate those who would
mount them.

[3] Success in Reconstructing Iraq:   Perhaps most importantly, as the
security situation steadily improves, significant achievements are being
made in rebuilding the country.  Critical to these successes have been the
industriousness and innovation of Iraqi engineers, scientists, technicians
and laborers.  For decades, their skills were largely suppressed - or at
least not rewarded - by the Baathist regime.  Now they are being turned
loose, with transformative effects.

No less important, however, has been the intrepidness of American officers
responsible for the various military regions of Iraq in identifying and
enabling projects that are making a real and rapid difference in the Iraqi
people's lives.  Naturally, the restoration of Iraq's dilapidated and poorly
maintained power, oil, water and sewage infrastructures have been a primary
focus of such efforts.  As we flew over much of Iraq on successive nights,
however, the effects of work aimed at restoring electricity were palpable as
illuminated cities and towns were visible across the country.

Other, more prosaic, but no less palpable, achievements are also making a
difference.  Roads are being reopened, bridges rebuilt, schools by the
thousands refurbished and equipped with books, pencils, paper and other
necessary educational tools.  Looted government buildings are getting
rapidly overhauled and turned over to what are, in many cases, elected city
councils, mayors and governors who are earning the confidence and support of
their constituencies.

Absolutely critical to these successes, however, has been something called
the Commanders' Emergency Relief Fund (CERF).  CERF monies have afforded
senior officers the latitude and the wherewithal to spend tens of millions
of dollars - to this point, all of it drawn from Saddam's frozen assets in
the United States or recovered in- country from the Iraqi regime - to
finance or kick-start projects in their areas of responsibility.

One such commander, Major General David Petraeus, storied commander of the
101st Airborne, is fond of saying that in Iraq today, "money is ammunition."
When he was told that it would take $23 million to restart an immense
concrete factory near Mosul, he provided a small fraction of that amount in
seed money from his CERF fund.  To their credit, the Iraqis were thus able
to prime the pump; the plant is now in business, employing large numbers of
Iraqis and producing vast quantities of a key ingredient in their country's

Unfortunately, Gen. Petraeus and his counterparts are rapidly running out of
such "ammunition."  Haggling over replenishing their CERF funds, whether in
Washington or at Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters in Baghdad,
risks denying these brilliant commanders their most important resource for
consolidating the liberation of Iraq and lubricating necessary
reconciliation among its long- suffering peoples.

It likely will prove calamitous if new projects like the Mosul cement
factory are not nurtured in the future and grounds thus denied for hope of
further progress - particularly with respect to the employment of more and
more Iraqis and the improvement of their quality of life.  Even worse would
be for projects already launched to lose their funding, thereby
underminingthe trust in America being so painstakingly restored after our
failure to eliminate Saddam twelve years before.

[4] The Iraqis Can Get By Without the UN:   The situation in Iraq does not
"require" the help of the United Nations.  If anything, Iraqis we talked to
expressed little appetite to have the UN play a significant role in their
country, apart perhaps from facilitating the provision of humanitarian
relief.  As one regional governor put it, the UN lacks the equipment, the
wealth, the power or the credibility to replace the United States as the
midwife for Iraq's freedom.  Not unreasonably, it appears that the last
thing most of the Iraqi people want is for a nation that has these
attributes and that undertook to liberate them - in the face of persistent
UN opposition - to leave their fate to the tender mercies of those who
supported Saddam's regime.

The possibility that the accomplishments that underpin this guardedly
up-beat assessment could be easily undone at this juncture should not be
allowed to diminish their reality.  Neither should they discourage us from
building quickly upon our success to date.

More than one of our interlocutors - Iraqi, American and allied alike -
impressed upon our delegation that we are in a race against the clock.  The
forces of tyranny (secular or Islamist), of civil strife and chaos are
anxious to defeat us and, by so doing, to deny the people of Iraq, those of
the region and, for that matter, the world, a very different model of an
Arab Muslim nation.

For the next six months to perhaps a year, we have a window of opportunity
to help Iraqis consolidate their freedom and become in their own way what
President Reagan used to call "a shining city on the hill."  While the costs
associated with continuing on the present trajectory are significant, they
pale by comparison with the certain costs of failure.  We simply cannot
afford to permit the liberation of Iraq to become what surely is not now - a
miserable failure.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. formerly held senior positions in the Reagan Defense
Department.  He  is currently the President of the Center for Security
Policy in Washington.,2763,1055766,00.html

by Suzanne Goldenberg
The Guardian, 4th October


Gratitude at having been freed from Saddam has given way to resentment and
mistrust in a part of Iraq that could never remotely be considered as Ba'ath
country. Compared with Baghdad, the south is an occupation success story.
Apart from Basra, where there have been sporadic attacks on British forces,
the foreign troops in the south operate in relative security.

None of the towns has a night curfew and, aside from in Basra, there was
relatively little looting at the end of the war. In Nassiriya, the first
town in Iraq with 24-hour electricity, Italian soldiers patrol without
helmets. There has never been an attack on US forces there.

And for good reason. Almost every person I met along the way had had a
member of their immediate family jailed or executed by the regime, or had
been jailed themselves. Some were exiled, but returned in the wake of the US
invasion with their hopes for a new Iraq.

All were thankful to be rid of Saddam, but months after that cataclysmic
event they detect few dividends from the occupation. "You have done very
little for the people of Iraq," says Salaam Daoud Salaam, an English teacher
in Basra. "Yes, you removed that man from power - a very good thing. But
what about the rest? We haven't felt that meaning of liberty. It lasted just
for a few days, but then our suffering is coming back."

Benefits, when they did arrive - a partial restoration of electricity, and a
gradual reduction in crime - were seen as miserly and overdue, a betrayal of
the promises made by Britain and America to build a new Iraq, prosperous,
modern, and free.

Saddam's Republic of Fear, the mechanism of iron controls that held the
state together, was gone, but its replacement is a violent chaos. The void
created by the defeat of Saddam's highly centralised one-party regime has
empowered religious extremists, political gangs, tribal chieftains,
criminals and speculators, the venal and the corrupt. These are the men
profiting in the new Iraq. The knock at the door at night is no longer a
member of Saddam's secret police, but it could very well be an armed robber,
an enforcer from a political faction, or an enemy intent on revenge.


Longing for the stability of old is never far from the surface in Iraq, and
understandable in the present chaos. But it is not mere nostalgia. My next
stop is beneath a burlap tent where a tribal chieftain, Ali al-Ghazi, is
holding court, peeling off $100 bills for supplicants and overseeing the
preparations for lunch for 300. In these parts, near the town of Nassiriya,
there is no more powerful authority.

The town straddling the Euphrates saw the first serious clashes of the war
on March 23, when US convoys were ambushed and 18 troops were killed. A few
months before the war, Mr Ghazi threw in his lot with the US invaders. His
men, equipped with Thuraya satellite phones from the Americans, fed
information on Iraqi troop positions to the CIA, and his brother, Taysir,
took two bul lets in the shoulder around the time the convoy was attacked.
Now, it is payback time.

After suffering in a neglected backwater during Saddam's time, Nassiriya's
new rulers have yet to appoint a provincial governor, or to consolidate a
new police force. The local elected council has no money. That has given the
Ghazis and other tribal leaders a free run as arbiters of disputes, and
dispensers of justice according to the ancient tribal laws of revenge and
retribution. In the months since the war, the clans have sanctioned the
revenge killings of about 50 Ba'athists in Nassiriya. There would have been
far more but for the new-fangled notion of settling old scores with cash.


No one dares to challenge the threat to the emerging institutions of Iraq.
Instead, the power of the tribes is being reinforced and legitimised. On
this day, a handful of important visitors make their way to Mr Ghazi's tent:
two British representatives from the provisional administration, and
Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a physician who returned from London to become a member
of the Iraqi governing council. "The centre has no influence, not compared
to the previous regime, so we are trying to give them that sense that there
is a government," Mr Rubaie says. "What I came here for first is to show
that the IGC cares."

What he came for second was to formalise a tribal role in the police force,
or at least extract a promise from the tribes to obey the law. Mr Ghazi is
unimpressed. "We, we will keep order and security in our region," he says,
and dismisses the IGC. "We have no need for them. They have need for us."


A few mornings ago, the armed followers of a relatively upstart cleric
called Muqtada al Sadr turned up at a shrine in the adjoining town of Kufa.
As pilgrims watched aghast, the thugs from Sadr's so-called Mahdi army beat
and chased away the men who have been hereditary custodians for the site as
long as anyone in Najaf can remember.

They then took control of the strongbox where donations from pilgrims are
gathered, shearing off the three locks from the finance ministry, the
community charitable trust and the keepers, which had served to regulate the
funds for years. The bonanza was estimated to be worth several million
dinars a week, enough for a steady supply of AK-47s. All of Najaf is talking
about the affront.

Locals, or at least the wealthy ones, see Sadr's followers as an ill-bred
rabble, because he draws much of his support from the poor slums of Baghdad.
In the wake of the takeover, there is talk of a full-on battle for supremacy
between the upstart cleric and more established religious leaders. "No one
tried to usurp us, not even Saddam himself," says Ali al-Kufi, one of the
hereditary keepers of the shrine.

But in the new Najaf, there was no one equipped to stop them - not the
police, and certainly not the clerics, who are engaged in their own power
grabs. "The destruction didn't happen only to Iraq as a state, but it
touched their very souls," Mr Ageli sighs. "We can rebuild the state of
Iraq, but for our souls there is no way." Ali seizes the moment: "Does this
mean we can go back to Syria or Iran?" he asks.

After the social fragmentation of Basra, Najaf and Nassiriya, I had been
looking forward to Hilla. Built near the ancient ruins of Babylon, the town
lies on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, within striking distance of
Baghdad. The US forces forded the Euphrates on March 31, moving swiftly to
take the capital's airport on April 3, and consolidating their hold six days
later. While Baghdad descended into violence and looting, the people of
Hilla took their destiny into their hands. They looked to the future as well
as the past, establishing a local administration and setting up a commission
to excavate the mass graves outside town, perhaps the largest collection of
Saddam's murdered victims.

Ask anyone in Hilla, and they will say: "You can't find a city better than
this." Police patrol at every junction, the criminals are on the run. Power
remains intermittent, but adroit management of supply has allowed the
factories to get back to work. On the edges of town, the vast Babylon
textile mills, with 2,800 employees, have rumbled back into production,
although they are running at half capacity.

In the centre of town, at the blue and white-striped headquarters of the
Babylon governate which houses the department of martyrs and missing
persons, Captain Amer Mahmoud al Shemari toils into the night. It is hard to
know what prepared Mr Shemari for this job in his previous existence. He
fled Iraq on a forged passport in 1985 after completing his military
service. He returned two days before the start of the war, confident that
Saddam would fall. During the intervening years, he lived in Jordan, Syria,
Lebanon, Qatar, Oman, Iran and Dubai. He worked at a factory making oil soap
(in Jordan), as a car mechanic (Syria), and as a secretary (Dubai).

During his first full month of work in Iraq, last May, he oversaw the first
exhumation of Hilla's mass graves, a time when they were digging up 100 to
150 corpses a day. Most were young men, seized at random and killed without
trial or mercy after Saddam's troops reasserted their control over Hilla
following the 1991 uprising. But workers also dug up the corpses of old men,
and of women clutching their babies in the folds of their now crumbling

That particular grisly task has stopped now. Mr Shameri says he can not
continue digging without proper equipment. There are about half a dozen
additional gravesites around Hilla. At the first site unearthed, at the back
of a farm north of Hilla, the unidentified dead have been reburied, with
their bloodied scraps of clothes placed atop small mounds of earth.


The neighbourhood of Nuab Dubat is a dreary row of hovels built to house the
soldiers from the adjacent Iraqi army base. One is the home of Ali
al-Meyahi, who was a member of the Republican Guard, meant to be Iraq's
premier force. Like the other 400,000 members of Iraq's army, he lost his
job at the end of the war. Now he faces the prospect of losing his home. The
base has been taken over by Polish soldiers, and the night before three
mortars intended for those forces landed practically on Mr Meyahi's

Shrapnel perforated the blue front door of his house, injuring his son
Ahmed, 10, and daughter Safa, 12, who were sitting on the wooden bench at
the back of the house. The children were only lightly wounded, but when a
Polish soldier looms in the doorway, offering medical treatment at the
military ambulance parked outside, Ahmed screams in terror.

Mr Meyahi shakes his head. In his 21 years in uniform, he says he was always
a reluctant soldier, more so after the regime killed his uncle and a cousin
in the purges of 1991. When he was ordered to defend Baghdad, he melted away
during the night of shock and awe on March 21, and went home to await the
peace. Instead, he lost his job, and watched his finances dwindle.

As the months passed, he sold the bedroom set and his wife's jewellery. The
family's only assets now are the television and the refrigerator, gifts from
his wife's parents. After half a lifetime serving the regime he dreaded, he
does not fancy his chances in the new Iraq. "When the war started, we
thought our dream would come true, that the coalition would come to liberate
us. That is why we left fighting. We were looking forward to having a better
situation, but what we have seen until now leaves us without hope," he says.

It's hard to shake off the despair that descends as I draw nearer to
Baghdad, and the end of the journey. I stop in the town of Mohawil, 30 miles
from Baghdad. Last April the troops paused here for just 37 minutes before
pushing onwards to victory. The new mayor of Mohawil, Wasil al-Shameli,
returned with them from exile in circumstances that he was not prepared to
describe. But he offers his explanation for the violence and disorder that
has descended on his country.

"It's true there was a horrible regime, but there were government
departments, and offices working. But after the war and the looting, all the
government institutions were destroyed, and it happened suddenly. It left
Iraqis feeling naked," he says. "This was also complicated by the fact that
we had an entirely military way of change. So of course we have a jungle
now, and jungle law."

After an elegant dissection of the chaos of the present, Mr Shameli sketches
an even more depressing scenario for the future. At his mayor's desk,
beneath the empty picture frame that once held a portrait of Saddam, he says
he has given up hope of building the political and legal institutions that
could transform Iraq into a law-based society.

"It will not be a society of institutions because the Americans are allowing
tribalism and religious extremists to take part in this society, so of
course it will affect the future," he says. "If the forces of modernity
retreat in the face of tribalism, it will create another dictator, another

He pauses. "I am so, so sad. I am so sorry. I am one of those citizens who
hoped to build another culture for Iraqi society. Now I have started to feel
that we are returning to the 1920s."

There seems little more to say, and we take our leave. Mr Shameli invites us
to return some day, but he isn't sure how long he will be mayor.


BBC, 1st October

Iraq will remain impoverished for years to come because oil will not fund
public spending, aid will fall short of what is needed and few companies
will want to invest there, a report leaked to Reuters news agency has said.

Even if oil prices are favourable, stability is achieved and debts are
largely written off, Iraq's economy will not reach even half the size it was
in the 1970s, the US-based Institute of International Finance (IIF) said in
a document sent to its members and quoted by Reuters.

The grim predictions come as governments and international agencies meet in
Madrid to prepare for an Iraq donors' conference later this month.

Reconstruction costs in Iraq are estimated to amount to at least $75bn but
so far pledges stand at $20bn from the US and a mere $230m from the EU.

The IFF - a leading banking body in Washington - did not deny circulating
the report quoted by Reuters but refused to comment on its contents.

The report said that Iraq's GDP (gross domestic product) per head would not
surpass $3,500 in the next 10-15 years.

The country's GDP per head reached $7,000 in the late 1970s, but economic
mismanagement, three wars and 13 years of sanctions has pushed that to
around $1,000 per capita, a level which rates it among the world's poorest

Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia, for example, has had GDP per capita
of $9,000 over the past five years.

Iraq has massive debts which the IIF estimates at $134bn, or 400% of gross
domestic product.

The report said that assuming an oil price of $25 a barrel in 2004 and oil
exports reaching no more than 2.5 million barrels per day by the end of next
year, export revenues would be $10bn.

"Given that it could take up to $15bn to cover recurrent public expenditure
in 2004, this would leave the government with a financing gap of around
$5bn," the report said.

"If reconstruction costs are added, the public financing gap in 2004 is set
to be far larger, perhaps as much as $15 bn," it added.

Foreign investment is expected to fill some of the gap, but the IIF said
private companies would be reluctant to invest in Iraq until stability is

"Reconstruction is therefore likely to be a slow process, ensuring that Iraq
remains a poor country for years to come," the report said.

by Arnab Neil Sengupta
Lebanon Daily Star, 3rd October

The way things are going in Congress and at the United Nations, to say
nothing of middle class Middle America, don¹t be surprised if US President
George W. Bush decides to cut his losses and pull out of Iraq, with or
without a UN peacekeeping force in place. For both serving and aspiring
autocrats around the world, such a denouement would call for the ³mother of
all celebrations.²

Although it still remains unlikely, a premature withdrawal from Iraq would
mean much more than just loss of face for the global hyperpower or a
vindication of multilateralist mush. It could very well mark the end of an
era of imperial defense and grand strategy spanning centuries that had kept
despotism in check from Burma to Burundi, and that has provided good
administration to vast swathes of humanity.

It was easy for Third World nationalists and Western liberals to dismiss the
invasion of Iraq as a neoconservative folly fraught with unnecessary danger.
In this age of human bombs and porous borders, there is no dearth of mass
murderers to prove the prophets of doom right. But for 24.5 million Iraqis
who had been languishing in a vast prison run by their former president,
Saddam Hussein, and his clansmen, their only hope of salvation lay not in
the collective will of a timid international community, but in a burst of
American hegemonic zeal.

Not surprisingly, Iraqis are still grateful to Bush and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair for delivering them from Saddam¹s tyranny, as a
much-publicized recent Gallup poll confirmed. It would be a tragedy of
unimaginable proportions, however, were this imperial mission to founder on
the killing fields of Fallujah and Ramadi.

It is one thing for Americans to criticize the Bush administration¹s
decision to go to war without fully thinking through the consequences. After
all, it is their soldiers who are dying every day at the hands of a faceless
enemy, and it is their tax dollars - an estimated $1 billion a week - that
are going into rebuilding Iraq¹s institutions. But it is quite another thing
for outsiders to continue to pick legalistic holes in the idea of
intervention as such, given that 67 percent of Iraqis still believe their
country will be in better condition in five years time than it was before
the war.

In justifying the American presence in Iraq, one might be hard-pressed to
use the precedent of Britain¹s entry into Mesopotamia in 1917, which was
followed after the war by British control over Iraq. But there are plenty of
examples of nation-states or societies that took far more out of its
occupiers than the occupiers took out of them.

A case in point is India. After wasting half a century being obsessed with
nationalistic and socialistic ideas, the country is slowly rediscovering the
Empire-era virtues of muscular diplomacy and free markets. The social
elites, frustrated with mediocre governance and political squabbling, no
longer see the 200 years of British rule as a dark chapter in Indian
history. Rather, they regard is as, in the words of revisionist historian
Niall Ferguson, a spectacular improvement over all that had existed before.

On Aug. 15, India¹s Independence Day, New Delhi-based political commentator
Swapan Dasgupta wrote in an opinion piece: ³Over the past five decades,
under the veneer of puerile anti-imperialism, there has been a contrived
repudiation of the (Raj) legacy. It is not this discourtesy of not saying a
thank you for shaping all that was good and living within us that counts.
What matters is that in turning our back on the British Empire, contemporary
India has also turned its back on the institution of Empire. It is this
rejection of an idea that is proving costly today.²

Iraqis, having suffered a great deal, can avoid the mistakes that other
former colonies have paid dearly for. They have a chance to leapfrog from
totalitarian Baathism to capitalist democracy under the guidance of the two
great powers that have done the most to nurture liberal democracy and free
trade. Iraqis will neither have to take a detour through Nasserite
nationalism, nor get carried away by the rhetoric of Third World solidarity.
They are in a position to set up a police, army, civil service and judiciary
in the mold of the developed world, and can write a new constitution and
economic laws with the help of the acknowledged masters of these fields. In
short, they are being offered the great and the good of temporary
colonialism, without the arrogance and the economic exploitation. What¹s
more, all of this is coming absolutely free.

On the other hand, if, despite the overpowering attractions of a brief spell
of imperial rule, the Iraqis¹ defeatist instincts take over, the country
could become an inspiration for rogue states and second-rate rulers. From
Havana to Harare, from Pyongyang to Rangoon, authoritarian regimes would
breathe easier in the belief that, with the US in trouble, they would not
have to worry about retribution; nor would their tired and terrified
populations be able to count on outside powers coming to their rescue. At
the next global talkfest, they and like-minded Western leaders would crow
about the ³defeat of pre-emption² and the dawn of a ³new just world order.²

To date this remains a worst-case scenario. But, all the same, the fate of
benign imperialism is in the balance.

Arnab Neil Sengupta is an Indian journalist working in Dubai. He wrote this
commentary for THE DAILY STAR

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