Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yet another theory about Iraq

A Washington Post review discusses Ali Allawi's theory that Paul Bremer was too soft on the Baathists. When something goes wrong there is no lack of people who can explain what happened after the fact. The extraordinary thing about Iraq is that everyone has a different and contradictory explanation. Most people blame Bremer for going to far and dismantling the entire Iraqi army, but Allawi seems to have the opposite view:

"The CPA did not demolish the state that it had inherited and then start to rebuild it along the lines that it prescribed," Allawi writes. "The unwillingness to treat the Ba'ath legacy for what it was -- a totalitarian state with a privileged elite -- and therefore in need of a radical overhaul, made the CPA reforms essentially tentative and nominal. It was as if a huge, decrepit building had been struck unevenly by a demolition ball that succeeded in inflicting only minor damage to the edifice."

Allawi was finance minister in the postwar Iraqi government. Perhaps his book can give us a clue as to where all the money went. True, Allawi blames Iraqis as well as Americans for the mess:

Indeed, Allawi's lament is shared by many former Iraqi exiles who returned to their country after Hussein's fall, dreaming of modernizing their homeland and sharing all they had gleaned in their years overseas. But the Iraq they encountered was very different from the one they left: It was decrepit and dangerous, riven by ethnic and religious tension. In the end, Allawi is just as critical of his fellow Iraqis as he is of the Americans. It is his countrymen, he concludes, who have failed to put aside their sect and work for the common good.

But if the Iraqis could not make things right, how could they have expected the Americans to do so?
Ami Isseroff

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