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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 08, 2003

Post War Iraq

Rummy in, Powell out.

Michael Barone in an article entitled, After the fighting, democracy in US News
Rapidly, decisions are being made about the governance of postwar Iraq. While debate rages in the press and in Congress, George W. Bush has decided that the United States, not the United Nations, and the Defense Department, not the State Department, will be in charge of Iraq once hostilities have been concluded. Last Wednesday, Colin Powell informed the European foreign ministers that the United Nations would not be in charge.

Also on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Donald Rumsfeld had rejected eight State Department nominees for positions in postwar Iraq. On Thursday U.S. News broke the story that Rumsfeld had sent two memos to the president urging immediate recognition of a provisional Iraqi government, presumably including leaders of the pro-democracy Iraqi National Congress. On Friday, it was reported that Rumsfeld was offering positions to two Clinton appointees, James Woolsey and Walter Slocombe.

All this suggests that President Bush has decided to follow through on his promise to create a democratic, peaceful Iraq. And that he is rejecting the advice of the State Department's Near Eastern Bureau, which is used to working with Arab tyrants of various stripes and is dedicated to "stability in the Middle East"--the same stability that gave us September 11. State wants to install an authoritarian leader acceptable to the Arab tyrants who deflect popular dissatisfaction with their rule by directing their people's hostility to the United States and Israel.

Defense has a better idea. Retired Gen. Jay Garner, who worked with Kurds in northern Iraq in 1991, will lead the Office of Reconstruc-tion and Humanitarian Assistance. "We're here to do the job of liberating [Iraqis]," he says, "of providing them with a form of government that will represent the freely elected will of the people."

"Nonnegotiable demands." Rumsfeld's proposal to install a provisional government may or may not be approved immediately, but the very proposal suggests that one will be installed soon. It is vitally important that it include the leaders of the Iraqi National Congress, who are committed not just to electoral democracy but to the principles of liberty, without which elections simply produce what Fareed Zakiria in his just published Future of Freedom calls "illiberal democracy." Those principles were set out by Bush in his January 2002 State of the Union speech as "the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance."

This means establishing independent courts to enforce contracts and punish crimes. It means enforcing laws guaranteeing respect for women. It means preventing violent reprisals against Saddam Hussein's thugs and conducting war-crimes trials. It means protecting the rights of a free press and letting al Jazeera broadcast what Iraqis think about their old and new regimes.
This is very exciting news. Good bye UN. Good bye EU. Good bye yesterday. But be warned, the decision is not yet made.