Wednesday, April 09, 2003

What We Owe Iraq
Now that the War seems to be nearly over, it is time to think about what a post-Saddam Iraq will look like and what we, as liberators, owe the Iraqi people. Now, there is likely one school of thought that posits our only obligation was to remove Saddam. But this view is short sighted both in terms of future security issues for the US and the world and for its lack of commitment to the ideal of democratic governance. If we were to back out of Iraw as soon as feasible, then we would leave behind a country where the strongest would rule with little respect given to democratic governance or minority rights. It would be a country torn between the majority Shia, the Kurds and Ba'athists. There is an argument to be made that the country might become another Afghanistan, ruled by theocrats who care little for human rights. Such a state would not only be a threat to its own people, but to other regimes in the region, and perhaps to the US and its allies in the West. And, it would certainly make the coalition look as though it did not really care about the Iraqi people.
So, what do we owe the Iraqis? I think we owe them some sort of federal government, where all parties would have a hand in the direction of the country, whether they be secular or religious. We owe the Iraqis a quick transition from a coalition led administrative regime to its own democracy. We must ensure that the UN is allowed only to provide humanitarian assistance and not to control the government (as their abject failure in Kosovo has shown, the UN is incapable of organizing a clam bake, let alone a country). We must prevent French and German companies and their governments from enforcing oil contracts negotiated with Saddam's regime, as these contracts are notoriously one sided and would deny the Iraqi people of their legitimate oil wealth.
Winning the peace on Iraq will be much more difficult that it was to topple Saddam's regime. It will take time and energy and we must not lose sight of Iraq's long term interests. Hopefully the coalition will use the same level of resources in rebuilding Iraq and its civic institutions as they did in planning and executing this war. Anything less would be a defeat.


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