2003 February 16 Sunday
Iraq After The Liberation

John F. Burns has an excellent story on Iraqis living in Jordan who want the United States to overthrow Saddam even though they have very hostile feelings toward the United States. Its entitled "When the Enemy Is a Liberator"

The men refused to accept that their image of the United States might be distorted by the rigidly controlled Iraqi news media, which offer as unreal a picture of America as they do of Iraq. But when it was suggested that they could hardly wish to be liberated by a country they distrusted so much that they might prefer President Bush to extend the United Nations weapons inspections and stand down the armada he has massed on Iraq's frontiers they erupted in dismay.

"No, no, no!" one man said excitedly, and he seemed to speak for all. Iraqis, they said, wanted their freedom, and wanted it now. The message for Mr. Bush, they said, was that he should press ahead with war, but on conditions that spared ordinary Iraqis.

The US is going to have a hard time managing post-war Iraq. Creation of a stable, non-corrupt, liberal democracy will be extremely difficult. The population will not trust the US and the warm feelings that the initial liberation will generate will not last for long.

Burns says many Arab leaders secretly hope that in the aftermath of the liberation and when the full extent of Saddam's barbarity can be plainly seen that the populace of their countries will swing away from their deep hostility toward the United States. But until that time comes leaders of such countries as Egypt will side with their populaces in their public statements about the coming war.

Update: If you haven't already, be sure to read Stanley Kurtz on the problems in Arab and Muslim societies and his views on the problem of what to do with Iraq after the war. Also, read Fouad Ajami on the potential of a conquered Iraq.

Update II: Lee Harris says its very important how a society attributes blame for failure. A society that blames itself and criticises itself is going to be far more successful than one that blames others for its failures. Harris argues that the Arab myths tend to shift blame toward others.

In fact, they hate us because we are the bad guys in the black hats that the Arab world so desperately needs to comfort themselves for their own failures and defeats.

Only the Story Line that the Arab is employing is not drawn from novels of Scott or the Fairly Tales of the Brothers Grimm, but from the enchanted world of The Thousand and One Nights. And, according to this Story Line, America is cast not simply as a bad guy, but as an all powerful evil genie that the virtuous Aladdin of the Arab world must destroy.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 February 16 12:45 PM  Reconstruction and Reformation

Tom Roberts said at February 16, 2003 2:11 PM:

Your thesis depends on how the US is perceived after the Baath is drained. If it is perceived as just replacing one bunch of crooks with another, then difficulties will multiply. This is what happened in Taiwan with the Kuomingtang, or in South Vietnam post Diem. But if the US replaces a bunch of NASDAP thugs with CDU's Adenauer, or some paradigm like that on both a local and federal level, then perceptions of what is possible might be altered over time. Don't forget that both Weimar Germany and Imperial Japan had long traditions of governmental corruption and political violence prior to 1945, and matters didn't work out so badly there.

razib said at February 17, 2003 1:47 AM:

perhaps, but japan was a definate nation-state. germany is not multi-ethnic (though it was multi-religious), and german unification was partially driven by a common ethnic feeling that arose with 19th century nationalism (along with prussian expansion and the "little germany" idea that excluded austria).

my point-we need iraqis to become citizens for it to succeed, but citizenship is contingent upon a sense of nationhood, which the japanese and germans to some extent had (in fact, during their medieval/fragmented period they were nations without states-iraq is a state without a nation).

Randall Parker said at February 17, 2003 3:41 AM:

The biggest citizenship problem with Iraq is not the split between Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, and other groups. The biggest problem is due to consanguineous marriage patterns. If you haven't yet read Stanley Kurtz and others on this then do so. I keep linking to Kurtz in my posts because I really think he's saying key things.

After the marriage problem the next big problem is Islam. If it ever does go thru a Reformation it is going to take a while and there is little sign that it has even started yet.

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