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Nonsense

Reader comment on item: A Strongman for Iraq?

Submitted by Abu Fitnah (United Kingdom), May 1, 2003 at 02:56

What was democratically-inclined about Chaing Kai-Shek? He was an autocrat in no uncertain terms...instituted a system of crony-capitalism in which the generals of the Guomindang took a cut of everything...and had jails filled with political prisoners and Tawainese independence advocates. Just as incredulous was your reference to Ataturk as a democrat. Ataturk was many things and is well regarded by many here for secularising Turkey. But he was also an autocrat and an ethnic cleanser extraordinaire. The Greeks had lived in Asia Minor at least since the 5th century BCE. Under the Ottomans, they were protected dhimmis. Ataturk - in his nationalistic zeal - violently expelled the vast majority. I don't understand how you can recommend these two men as examples of "democratically inclined" strongmen. I suppose they both had positive attributes, particularly when compared to their contemporaries (Mao Zedong, the House of Saud). But I take issue with the rest of your article.

You want an American-imposed strongman to stave off anti-American sentiment in Iraq. But anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the situation there would know that this is precisely the step that would send the country into chaos and revolt.
To have someone in place who can be painted as an unelected dictator can only serve to bolster the Iranian cause (i.e. fundamentalist Shia Islam).

My own view is that the coalition - more specifically the USA - missed a chance when they failed to get a provisional government in place. They should have learned the lesson of how the Soviets dealt with Eastern Europe after World War 2. Stalin always made sure there was a provisional govenrement in place, even if it was only a complete puppet of Moscow.

Secondly, they should have, under the guise of restoring public order, ensured that all demonstrations require a licence. This is an instrument of control.

Thirdly, they should have been ready to take control of all media. In Iraq this should also mean controlling what is said in the Mosques at Friday prayers.

Fourthly, they need to undertake a programme of complete de-Ba'athisation. I think the continuing trouble-making potetnial of Ba'athism is underrated at present.

Of course, we have not gone down this path so we have to start from here. Starting from here, I would say that we still need to appoint a provisional government of Iraqis. The appointments should be on the authority of the US military and could be rescinded at any time.

Then we need a system of licensing political parties with rigorous auditing of democratic credentials. Any party influenced by undemocratic foreign powers e.g. Saudi, Emirates or Iran should not be permitted to take part in elections.

We need to start with local elections first. Then we should move up to the regional level (so as to entrench Kurdish regional power).

There should be a timetable for an elected national govenremnt. Perhaps three years from now with a five year bedding in period, during which US forces would remain in control of the country's internal security.
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