Posted by andreas from p3EE3C551.dip.t-dialin.net (22.214.171.124) on Sunday, October 06, 2002 at 4:02AM :
New propaganda turn as reflected in Bush's nation address towmorrow:
1) no conquest but liberation of Iraq
2) help for "re-building"
Heed e.g. the last paragraph below:
"The best argument for military intervention is to support the millions of Iraqi people who want political change. They need, somehow, to show the world they want our help. For in the end, it's their country, their war and their new vision that will begin to transform Iraq, the day after."
Reason for this turn:
"Why go to war against Saddam Hussein? For all of President Bush's speeches, it's not clear that Iraq poses an imminent threat that can't be deterred or contained through inspections and other means"
Possibilities of a New Iraq
By David Ignatius
Sunday, October 6, 2002; Page B07
The first time I went to Iraq, in 1980, the authorities there confiscated my Olivetti portable typewriter. That was a nuisance for me as a reporter, but it suggested what frightened Saddam Hussein: an open exchange of ideas, even simple typewritten leaflets, that might foster democracy in Iraq.
The moment Hussein has feared for so long may finally be at hand. Democracy is pounding at his door, and a new Iraq is ready to find its voice.
Thinking about postwar Iraq is an urgent task. Yet for some reason, the subject is rarely discussed by the Bush administration amid the daily leaks from Washington about war planning.
The time to think about Iraq's future government is now. This is one of those rare chances for history to really turn a page. The next chapters could be triumph or tragedy, but the Iraqi people will write the story themselves, with a little help from their friends.
Many analysts warn of the disasters that await in this postwar Iraq, but frankly I'm not convinced. Yes, Iraq is a country with many ethnic groups that don't always get along. And, yes, there will be a risk of revenge killings and general mayhem as the millions of Iraqis who suffered from Hussein's torturers seek to settle scores.
But these strike me as manageable problems, especially if people think carefully about them beforehand. Maintaining order will be essential in the first weeks and months after Hussein and his secret police are gone, and Washington should be training military police who will keep the peace, even as it drills the soldiers who will do the fighting. Yet we hear little of these plans -- even though they would encourage Iraqis and other Arabs, and even Europeans, to feel that the war is worth fighting.
In truth, Iraq is probably more ready for democracy than any nation in the Arab world. That's partly because its people have suffered so much from the cruelty of the current regime. But it's also because the Iraqis are the most likely Arabs to build a truly modern nation. For centuries, Baghdad has been a center of learning, and the Iraqis gained a reputation as the Prussians of the Arab world. It was no accident that Iraq was the only Arab country with the scientific brainpower to mount a serious nuclear weapons program.
And the talk of Iraq's internecine strife is overblown, too. The long-repressed Shiite community forms a majority of its population, which leads some analysts to fear Shiites will create a radical Muslim regime. But the Shiites of Iraq are Arabs who stayed loyal to Hussein through nearly a decade of war against the Persians of Iran. Iraq's Shiite elite has been the country's leading modernizers, supplying more than their share of scientists and engineers.
One Iraqi who is planning for the future is Kanan Makiya, who is heading a project to draft a new constitution, under the sponsorship of the opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress. I first talked with Makiya more than a decade ago, after he bravely published a book called "Republic of Fear," which documented the vicious torture and repression that sustained Hussein and his cronies in power.
Makiya and other Iraqi dissidents describe scenes of unimaginable cruelty -- children thrown from helicopters to force their parents to confess to crimes against the regime, for example. "Hope itself has been killed," he once wrote.
It's strange that liberals haven't paid more attention to the egregious human rights abuses of the Iraqi regime. To quote one horrific passage from the recent (widely ignored) British government report on Iraq: "Prisoners at the Qurtiyya Prison in Baghdad and elsewhere are kept in metal boxes the size of tea chests. If they do not confess they are left to die."
In his recent writings about Iraqi democracy, Makiya illustrates the leap of imagination that is part of the birth of any new government. He calls for a federal state, in which the Kurds of the north, the Sunnis of the center and the Shiites of the south all have local power, but in which the rights of minorities are protected, everywhere.
"The experience of cruelty, of seeing into the bottom of the abyss, can turn those who are subjected to it in on themselves, or it can help them reach outwards in the urge to remake and affirm life," Makiya said in a speech last June. "The possibility exists of allowing it to open a window . . . through which to consider changing the rules by which we organize our lives."
Other Iraqis have been working on procedures for integrating decent members of Hussein's army, and even members of the Baath party, into postwar life. It's like the "de-Nazification" that helped build a strong and stable Germany after 1945.
Around the world, a new generation is taking power, pushing aside the old men who ruled for so long. You can see this process in China and Russia. And soon, one hopes, in Iraq and the Arab world.
The postwar imaginings of Makiya and others are invigorating stuff. They should help answer the question that is vexing the world: Why go to war against Saddam Hussein? For all of President Bush's speeches, it's not clear that Iraq poses an imminent threat that can't be deterred or contained through inspections and other means.
The best argument for military intervention is to support the millions of Iraqi people who want political change. They need, somehow, to show the world they want our help. For in the end, it's their country, their war and their new vision that will begin to transform Iraq, the day after.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company
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