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The Day After:
Enterprise Institute for
October 3, 2002
MR. DeMUTH: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My name is Christopher DeMuth, and I'm President of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. I'm delighted to welcome all of you to this AEI Conference: The Day After: Planning for Post-Saddam Iraq. And I must say that my colleagues and I are very honored among the many distinguished experts on the Middle East and Iraq to have assembled here at AEI today such an important group of Iraqi expatriates and emigrees to take part in our deliberations throughout the day.
The dramatic proposition and challenge that President Bush has laid before the American people and the free world has prompted spirited public debate over the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to our security and our civilization, and no doubt equally spirited private debates over the military and political exigencies of removing the tyrant from power.
The question we will be considering today and in subsequent sessions throughout the coming months is equally important, and although it has received less attention to date, it will move to the forefront as the political and military plans go forward.
That is the construction of a free and liberal and peaceable Iraq, one which in the hopes of many Iraqis and their friends in America and elsewhere will be much more than a reconstruction of what was before Saddam came to power, but the inauguration of a new political era for all of the Middle East.
I would like to thank my colleagues, Danielle Pletka and Reuel Gerecht, who have been laying plans for this conference for many months now, and who will be moderating the sessions throughout the day, and Elizabeth Bowen, our Director of Seminar and Conferences, who put together all of the logistics for the event in this newly redesigned conference center, which we just moved into last week.
Because of the very large response we have received and the many people who have come from around the country and around the world to the conference, I must introduce a small apology. The logistics of managing such a large crowd throughout the day may present some challenges, and in particular it's not going to be possible to have everybody sitting around large tables with linen cloths at lunch, and some of the arrangements will be somewhat informal.
But I think given the intensity of the matters we will be discussing, that I could ask your patience with some of these details.
I want to mention that following--well, today's session is going to be concerned with issues of great immediacy and overarching importance in the post-Saddam period, questions of political and constitutional structure, war crimes and justice, oil, and the immediate effects on politics, the politics of the Middle East--we will be holding a series of monthly seminars following up with more detailed issues.
This will begin with a session on Friday, November 15, on demobilizing, reforming and rebuilding the Iraqi Army. Subjects to be addressed in subsequent months throughout the winter and spring include de-Baathification, reform in the educational system, reforming the judicial system, questions of debt, reparations, sanctions, environmental rehabilitation, health care, and many others.
To provide introductory remarks, I am very honored that we have with us Ambassador Ryszard Krystosik, who was for many years a distinguished Polish diplomat with long service in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations. Ambassador Krystosik was in the early 1990s, from 1990 to 1994, Deputy Director in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was then for many years and up through 2001 the Chief of the United States Interests Section in Baghdad.
Following his remarks, Danielle Pletka will introduce our first panel and moderate that panel. Please give a warm welcome to Ambassador Krystosik.
MR. KRYSTOSIK: Before I start, let me apologize for my Polish accent. A long time ago when first in the United States, I was traveling from New York to Washington, and I stopped at the roadside cafe, and a man sitting next to me asked me who are you? I said I am a Pole. What did you come to the United States for, he asked? I said I came to polish my English.
MR. KRYSTOSIK: He looked at me and then said you don't have to. Your English is already Polish.
MR. KRYSTOSIK: It is with a great honor and pleasure to deliver the introductory remarks today. I don't know whether I will be able to meet this challenge, but certainly I will try my best. First of all, let me sincerely thank the President of the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Christopher DeMuth and the members of the institute for their kind invitation.
Secondly, let me congratulate you for choosing the most topical issues to be discussed today and at the seminars that will follow the conference.
If there are to be changes on the Iraqi internal scene, there will be nothing of greater importance than a successful transition to a democratic system in Iraq. Not allowing the rebirth of present dictatorship in a different form with a different face will become politically indispensable.
Hence, without the democracy being established in Iraq, and the present ruler being toppled down, the international security and stability of the Middle East will always be threatened, and the Iraqi people will continue to suffer.
Since a few weeks, as we know, Iraq has been non-stop on the headlines. Almost everything has been said, written or broadcasted--the news on war plans, return of weapons inspectors, political struggles behind the scenes in the United Nations, moves by the decision-makers and policy planners. From time to time, there were reports on the air strikes carried out in the pursuit of policy of no-fly zone enforcement and the reply of the Iraqi air defenses.
On the TV screens, you could often see Saddam Hussein either presiding over the RCC and government meetings or shooting from the hip his Mauser rifle over the heads of parading Iraqi troops to prove his fitness and determination, both to his supporters and to those who sometimes question his health.
However, for obvious reasons, not that much could have been shown, written or sent about the realities of daily life in Iraq. Having spent six years in Baghdad, as a senior Polish diplomat, charged with protecting the interests of the United States, I had the rare opportunity to eyewitness many dramatic events.
I had a chance to see the sharp contrasts between the regime and the people; to compare the realities with the illusions; to recognize the differences between the wishful thinking presentations and real problems; to juxtapose some slipping on the surface reports with the true facts.
And I had a chance to deal with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and other government officials. So I could compare the official policy statements made on different occasions with the daily practice and true acting of the Iraqi state authorities.
As much as I can, let me share with you some observations, assessments and opinions on these facts of daily life in Iraq, which are less exposed and usually do not take much of the prime time in the media.
For overwhelming majority, life is extremely difficult in Iraq. To be really well, one has to belong to the top elite, be a prominent member of the government or Baath Party leadership, a wealthy businessman, possibly on government procurement contracts, or a chieftain of the clan. Also, a few writers, folk singers, and actors belong to the elite.
Even high ranking officers of the Iraqi armed forces, security and police functionaries, as well as the administration officials are not that well paid. They do not get special bonuses or rewards which occasionally are even paid in foreign currency.
Directors general heading big offices in the ministries earn approximately an equivalent of 20 to $25 per month. The university professor salary is approximately eight to $10 monthly.
Therefore, in Baghdad it is not uncommon to find out that it is the university professor who is driving his used car as a taxi you have just hired. Your driver might be telling you how much he heard before 1991. His salary was then two or even three times higher than that of his European or American colleague. Now, he must have some additional income to support his family.
Before he belonged to the elite, he was a strong supporter of the regime. Now, his life has been drastically changed. The same could be said about lawyers, medical doctors, architects or engineers and executives. Before, they maintained close contacts with the West. They traveled abroad every year, staying in best hotels, walking to the best restaurants. Now, they hardly afford a sidewalk restaurant in Baghdad. Only a few of them can keep the same living standard now.
The support of the middle class for the regime now is not as strong as it used to be. It's getting weaker and weaker day by day. Yet, there is in my opinion rather resignation than an active protest. It would be too difficult, too dangerous, openly to manifest even some dissatisfaction.
Still, the middle class is better off than the lower income group. A woman weaver in the state-run carpet factory earns 3,000 Iraqi dinars. That is US$1.50 per month. She depends on food rationing only. A rookie in the Baghdad police force is paid $2.50 monthly. He is better off as occasionally he takes some small bribes, an important addition to his income.
Anyway, life in Baghdad for everyone who lives there is much better than life in other places, even big cities like Masul, Ramadi or Basra, not to mention life in the countryside.
The city of Baghdad day by day deteriorates. Many houses are not properly maintained as the owners do not have enough money for repairs. Streets, quite clean before the Gulf War, are dirty now. The sanitation trucks are running on major streets and in the better neighborhoods, where the workers can get some tips for collecting the garbage. The sewerage system is really in a bad condition.
Of course, the authorities put the blame on the sanctions and the bombings, which, as they say, heavily affected the system. Not much is being done, however, to improve the situation. During the rainy season, parts of the city are completely flooded.
On the other hand, in some parts of the city, close to the riverbanks in Mansur and Adamiya or in Masbah, you can see not only family members' palaces, but also some other huge mansions built with Carara marbles, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with the top equality equipment that is brought from the Gulf, Europe or Asia.
Some of these houses are guarded by the soldiers and police, some by private security guards. Some stay unoccupied as the owner might have two or three mansions like that to be rented for hard currency to diplomats, the UN personnel, executives of international companies or businessmen from United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Syria or Jordan.
When you look at the city traffic, you have an impression of being in the junkyard of 1980s. Most of the cars are kept running thanks to the ingenious labor of Iraqi mechanics and spare parts imported, or better to say, smuggled from India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan, often as original General Motors, Japanese or German products.
From time to time, you can still see a Porche or Maserati roadster, maybe from the motor pool of Uday, allegedly burned by the order of Saddam Hussein.
However, with the Oil for Food program running already for five consecutive years, there are new cars coming day by day, not only the trucks which might have the dual use and the oil tankers. They are top models of Mercedes for the government and presidential ministers, luxury Toyota Lexuses and Avalons become a new standard for top ranking Mukhabarat and security officials, while Land Cruisers, Toyota Land Cruisers for higher operatives from these intelligence and security formations.
These models gradually replace white Chevy Celebrity sedans, notoriously known before in Baghdad as the secret police cars. Regular police has a small Hundai. The brass, bigger Sonatas. Occasionally, you can see young men, shortcut or skin-headed, Al Khass special security agents, in their BMWs, wearing designer sunglasses, fashionable knit shirts, brief leather jackets and blue jeans as they drive slowly Arasat Hindiya Street, known as the Champs Elysee of Baghdad, placed close to the palaces and mansions on the river where the family of Saddam Hussein lives.
This is the place full of boutiques, selling Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Pierre Cardin and other designer dresses and South Korean top and fancy audiovisual equipment. There are also fashionable restaurants open by the Iraqi-Jordanese or Lebanese joint ventures. They are frequented by the regime, high society, and Baghdad international community, including diplomats, UN people and before '98, the UNSCOM inspectors.
However, there are other places in Baghdad, Saddam City for example, the taxi driver will refuse to take you there after the sunset. The cabbie knows that he might risk not only his car and money but even his life. Strolling Mansur or Arasat Hindiya, visiting restaurants and ice cream parlors is a popular way of passing free time for these Iraqis who can afford it.
There are not many cinemas. These which still exist are showing mostly karate and Indian drama movies. From time to time, there is a play staged on the National Theater or Chinese circus visiting town.
So you do not have much choice but to watch state TV or Uday's Shabab Television. Mostly, the news is broadcasted. It is illustrated with chronicles of the meetings held by Saddam Hussein. You are never sure when the chronicles were shot, a day, a week, a month or a few years ago.
Although you may notice that the news coverage of international events has been broadened, the political censorship remains unchanged or became even tighter. The rest of the program is limited to propaganda, and clips with pop-folk songs. In the evenings, the feature movie might be shown.
One must admit sometimes it could be a top-Oscar winning movie or a blockbuster like Titanic or Speed. I don't believe the Iraqi TV spends a lot of time to buy screening rights. I presume they save, either buying or making themselves the pirate copies.
If you don't want to watch official television, and you own a CD or DVD player, you may easily buy a pirate disk with most recent Hollywood production, uncensored and sometimes technically almost perfect, made on Chinese or Malaysian digital recording equipment.
The satellite TV formally is not forbidden. But you cannot have it. There is no law forbidding the installation of the antenna and possession of the receiver.
However, Saddam Hussein once has allegedly said that those who watch imperialistic propaganda and immoral entertainment should be punished. So, in practice, everything depends on your friendly neighbor. If he reports on you, your house will be searched and the equipment confiscated. Some other of your valuables might also be disappear. You will be arrested and put in jail for six months.
This will certainly happen unless the Mukhabarat official is one who understands, and after taking some money to lessen his doubts, he will file a report on your neighbor, charging him with disseminating false information, with purpose to mislead the security authorities. Your neighbor might then be in serious trouble indeed.
Of course, there are some who can watch the satellite TV. Some ministers, like Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information and Culture, and I suppose in the Foreign Department of Mukhabarat as well as in the offices of presidential advisors, you can see the TV sets, tuned mostly on the CNN.
I may add that the network enjoys number one position in Baghdad. It is considered the most credible with the best access, maybe with the exception of Al Jazirah, the network which assisted the Iraqis in transmitting of Saddam Hussein's statements from his command post after the broadcasting power if Iraqi TV was destroyed by the first airstrikes during the Desert Fox.
The access to the internet is in practice forbidden. It is for official use only. There is an internet cafe in Baghdad, but as some people say, one must have top security clearance to attend it.
The particular role of keeping ordinary people fed with correct information is assigned to the press. The differences between the newspapers --the Government Al Ghumhuriya, the Armed Forces Quadasiya, or Baathist Al Thawra--are only slight. The different presentations could be noticed sometimes in the Babil, Uday's newspaper. Only there you may find editorials of articles criticizing the Iraqi foreign policy line, showing that the tasks for Mukhabarat are not correct. And some criticism in Babil may lead to the dismissal of government officials.
One might consider that the newspaper is reflecting Saddam's informal position as interpreted by Uday. The leading role of the newspaper diminished along with lesser political importance of Uday after the attempt on his life in December '97.
However, Uday still enjoys a lot of power and influence. His is actually the only person controlling TV, the newspaper and a dozen of magazines, and a special paramilitary force so-called Saddam Hussein Fedains.
He conducts special military camps, the booth training for youngsters where special agents look for gifted boys to be recruited for special security or intelligence apparatus. Uday still has a full access to university and cultural circles.
He leads the Olympic Committee and presides over lucrative sports organizations. It is not clear, yet it looks like he controls the finances of the family, banking and international trade. He owns the bus line to Amman, the fleet of GMC taxis used by all people visiting Iraq, but taxis shuttling between the two capitals, the oil tankers and the big trucks.
His people control the foreign currency exchange. To change foreign currency for the Iraqi dinars is a must. Tourists, diplomats, foreign journalists, businessmen have to pay their bills in dinars. You don't change money in the bank.
Banks use the official rate, approximately $3 for one dinar. In the commercial exchange in kiosks, you get the commercial rate, much, much better, approximately 2,000 dinars for one dollar.
MR. KRYSTOSIK: You may sell or buy foreign currency now in Iraq. Before it was a crime for which you could be even hanged. The price difference between selling and buying is only slight. However, it is a profitable business to run the exchange kiosk. Uday's people do that.
Certain changes, or better to say adjustments in the internal policy of the regime, do not mean that the grip has been loosened. Life remains to be fully controlled. The system of control is total and complex. There is no chance that something could escape attention of the authorities if they want to know, and usually they do.
Political control is carried out on the first level by the Baath Party domestic affairs department which prepares reports on the internal situation. Every Baath Party member is obliged to inform in writing of the situation in his community, the place he lives and works. Such a report is then analyzed, compared with other reports. Then the recommendation is conveyed to the higher level. Police do have their own reports. All the information is being checked by the internal security division of Mukhabarat, and reported to the Palace, to the Saddam Hussein advisors and the big boss himself.
From the organizational point of view, the system is very efficient in this respect. The branches of local administration are obliged closely to cooperate with the security, and they eagerly do. They exact and very precise lists of people prepared for food distribution and rationing purposes are also used for balloting. They are subject to the security verifications. From time to time, your house in Baghdad certainly will be visited by the Troika, a local administration representative, Baath Party delegate and a security officer.
Let no one be misguided seeing old people on bikes with old useless or almost useless Kalashnikov rifles, good only for shooting in the air, who patrol the city at night or sit at the checkpoints in faded party uniforms. This does not reflect the real power and efficiency of the system of control in Iraq.
Perhaps it is difficult to notice the state security officers in their plaincloth. However, dark olive uniforms you could see everywhere, sometimes mixed with the camouflage combat dress or red bandanna scarf of the Republican Guards, and red berets of the notorious military police branding foreheads of the deserters with the hot iron.
Well-known, dreadful effectiveness of the security force is based on extreme brutality. The security troops are ready to shoot to kill just to disperse the crowd.
The Toyota or Mitsubishi pick-ups with machine guns mounted on platforms could be always seen rushing to the places of trouble. They are very practical to use in other sense as well. You can place the dead bodies on the platforms, drive away and discard, dump, them in the other parts of town, far away from the place of trouble. It will be difficult for the family to find the body and to bury it. Given the religious traditions, it is so-called second punishment. It does have a tremendous psychological terrorizing impact. That was exactly what happened during the Shiie rioting in Saddam City in March 2000.
Sometimes, quite seldom, instead of security force, Saddam Hussein Fedains are being used to pacify the rioters. This was the case in Najef and Kerbala, the Shiie holy places.
In all such cases, the Mukhabarat and the Al Khass, special security organizations, are engaged. All security force including the elite Republican guards is coordinated by Little Brother, Qusay. He is now considered possible successor to Saddam. The number of his followers and supporters in Tikriti family and in other Sunni clans steadily grows. He does not have the rank of general. He's not a member of the Revolutionary Command Council and cabinet member either.
He does not hold any position in the Baath Party and never sits close to Saddam during the official ceremonies. In the media, he is addressed as Warrior Qusay. He is the one who enjoys the real power. He profited from the long battle for control over the security force and intelligence community fiercely fought between Uday and Saddam Hussein half brothers, Barzan at Tikriti, Watban and Sabawi, who once were in command of Mukhabarat, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the police force.
Political control of the people does not mean that common crime is eliminated. On the contrary, the number of criminal acts, murders, armed robberies and thefts grows. There are, of course, bloody family feuds and acts of violence. People are afraid. They cannot count on police protection. Although it's not uncommon to have a handgun or Kalashnikov at home, for ordinary people using it, however, might mean a serious trouble.
From time to time, the people are shocked by the circulating stories of young people kidnapped and killed to have their life organs removed for sale, for illegal kidney implants. Or gangs robbing the houses and killing whole families. There is the drug traffic, gambling and prostitution, of course, with the proper Mukhabarat and police connections and protection.
This is very well illustrated by the murky story of beheaded corpses of Baghdadi prostitutes found in front of their houses.
Everyday life is extremely difficult in Baghdad for an average Iraqi. His old car might be broken and there will be no chance to repair it. There could be limited food based only on rationing basket consisting mostly of cooking oil, flour, sugar and some eggs. There might be a power cut so his TV set and air-conditioning split unit will be off. And when power is back, he might find out that his TV set is broken as there was a high voltage surge of returning power. There might be worker shortages or a difficulties to buy proper medicine in the drug store.
However, he will not complain loudly. He will put the blame on the sanctions in accordance with the official line. He will do that to protect his family and himself. He knows that to be engaged against the regime means often a special court where the names of prosecutor and the presiding judge will not be known. They will be kept secret. There will be no record of the court proceedings and no verdict in writing.
Actually, only two sentences are possible: death or life imprisonment. The only document, though not always received by the family, would be the act of demise signed by the ward doctor after the execution.
Saddam Hussein's presence everywhere dominates the daily life of everyone in Iraq. He managed to survive the previous crisis. His days seem to be numbered at the end of the Gulf War. It looked like no way out for him, yet he found the escape routes. He was able to strengthen his domestic position after weathering very serious family storms.
Whether or not, for how long and how, he will be able to grapple with the situation now, whether he will be able to cope with the present crisis? Will he only be prevented from rebuilding his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and using them as a threat in the major struggle for regional security, while he continues to stay in power?
Or he succeeds in changing the face of the regime, replacing himself with some other family member? Or the Iraqi people, who will pay now the heaviest price for his dictatorship, will be able to start a new life on the road of democratic changes? One doesn't know yet, but one might learn quite soon what will happen.
I thank you for your attention.
MS. PLETKA: Good morning, everybody. Welcome. I'm Danielle Pletka from AEI. I'd like to make a few program notes, first of all. The first is my own omission. We owe a great debt of thanks to, and I'm looking for him right now, Dr. Michael Rubin, who talked into AEI some months ago to help arrange this conference, and immediately abandoned us for the Pentagon, where he is now. He did wonderful work and we are very grateful to him.
MS. PLETKA: There's his fan club. Okay. Moving on, if I may, I need to tell everybody that there is no luncheon speaker today, and we will probably start lunch a little bit late, because we're running a little bit late already.
Despite the fact that invitations were extended throughout the administration, AEI was informed on Tuesday afternoon that no senior Bush Administration official would be comfortable in speaking on the question of Iraq post-Saddam.
Of course, we are disappointed. Calling for an Iraq for the Iraqis is not a substitute for a genuine foreign policy towards a new Iraq. If the United States wants a democratic and representative Iraq, we need to start work now, and to jump-start that process, we have a group of wonderful speakers with us today.
And I'd like to get our first panel up here, if I might. Don't fall off the dias. This is our largest panel. Sorry, we'll take a moment. I'm just going to give a very quick and brief introduction of each of speakers today.
Our first presenter on the question of how ambitious we should be for a future Iraq is Kanan Makiya. Mr. Makiya is a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and a past convener of the Human Rights Committee of the INC.
Each of our speakers, by the way, today has a full biography which is contained in your folder.
Ahmad Chalabi is president of the Iraqi National Congress.
Rend Rahim Francke is a founding member and executive director of the Iraq Foundation.
Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution is a senior fellow in foreign policy studies.
Siyamend Othman is an independent media and IT consultant, and an expert on Kurdish issues.
Richard Perle is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, co-chairman of Hollinger Digital. He is also chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board.
Thank you for being here.
MR. MAKIYA: Thank you, Danielle. Thank you for inviting me to this very well attended event. My comments are going to be somewhat different vein than that of the Ambassador's who dwelt on the, very observantly, on the miseries of life under Saddam. I am going to try and do the opposite, to paint a picture of what a future Iraq post-Saddam might look like or could look like.
And I should say at the outset that while the ideas I am dealing with take as their starting point Iraqi realities, they are not self-evident. And by this, I mean that they do not take as their point of departure what I call the lowest common denominator of Iraqi politics.
They are feasible, they are doable, but their feasibility requires imagination. Iraqi imagination and American imaginative leadership, the kind of leadership that has a long-term political vision for the area, a long-term political vision, I should add, not only for Iraq but for the whole Middle East.
Now, in addition to this all important question of leadership, the feasibility of what I'm about to suggest rests on a number of assumptions, which I had best get quickly out of the way because without them, what I am about to say will sound no doubt like pious hopes and dreams without any chance of being realized in the short term.
So my first assumption is somewhat obvious one, but nonetheless has to be stated, that the government of the United States actually proceeds with its stated policy of regime change in Iraq.
Secondly, that the unseating of the Saddam Hussein regime does not take place at the cost of large scale civilian casualties, Iraqi or Israeli, which could introduce consider volatility and unpredictability into the political situation.
And my third assumption is that these ideas that I'm presenting or some such variation and amendment of them are actually adopted at a large and representative meeting of the Iraqi opposition to be held in the medium or short term.
And my fourth assumption is that the government of the United States as the partner of the Iraqi people in liberating Iraq sees its role in Iraq as being again for the long term for democracy and reconstruction, i.e., for nation building.
Now, in making this assumption, this last assumption, on nation building, I am comforted by the words of Condoleeza Rice last week--I think it was last week or ten days ago--when she was quoted by the Financial Times that this time around, she said the United States will be, quote, "completely devoted" to the reconstruction of Iraq as a unified democratic state in the event of a military strike.
Ms. Rice suggested that the U.S. was willing to spend time and money, rebuilding the country after the fall of Saddam Hussein. She said that the values of freedom, democracy and free enterprise do not "stop at the edge of Islam." That was her phrase. And she underlined U.S. interest in the, quote, "democratization or the march of freedom in the Muslim world."
I said I am comforted by these words, but I am unfortunately by no means persuaded that Ms. Rice was stating what is the position of the United States government in this regard at this point in time.
My fifth assumption, last assumption, I promise you, is that the government of the United States further to a treaty with a new duly constituted Iraqi government agrees to keep a military presence inside Iraq for whose purpose it is to guarantee the territorial integrity of the country.
And it agrees to do so for a period measured in years, not in months. Now this having been said, it should be emphasized that nothing in what I am about to say requires the United States to police or to manage into existence on a sort of hand-to-hand basis the new and budding institutions of the country. That is a challenge that I believe the people of Iraq can and will face up to on their own.
So, given these rather numerous, I admit, assumptions, I want to suggest that the, and I think the gist of my remarks are, that the removal of this regime presents the United States in particular with a historic opportunity that I believe is going to prove to be as large as anything that has happened in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the entry of British troops into Iraq in 1917.
Iraq is not Afghanistan. It is rich enough and developed enough and has the human resources to become as great a force for democracy and economic reconstruction in the Arab and Muslim world as it has been a force for autocracy and destruction in the past.
But for the rest of the world to be able to see the challenge in this way, it is necessary to change the terms of the debate over this coming war with Iraq, and that has not happened yet. And that is why I said I am merely comforted by the words of Miss Rice to the Financial Times and not yet convinced that it is going to be the actual position of the United States government, not yet at any rate.
Now, unfortunately, much of the debate--I don't know if you are hearing me very well--is this reaching--okay. Much of the debate over Iraq that has taken place in Europe, in the Arab world and even in this country has been what I would call a selfish one, centered on the threats to the West and its friends on the one hand, and on the moral issues arising out of so-called American hegemony on the other.
It has been all about quote "us" in the West and not about those who have to live inside the grip of one of the most brutal dictatorships of modern times.
I should say here that it has been a thousand times more selfish among non-Iraqi Arabs, if there can be said to have been any kind of a debate at all on the possibility that this war might end up being something that is actually a force for good in the Middle East as opposed to the unmitigated disaster that almost all non-Iraqi Arabs seem to think it will be.
The spectrum unfortunately of what it is possible to talk about in Arab politics these days runs from Palestine at one end to Palestine at the other with no room for the plight of the people of Iraq, the overwhelming majority of whom believe that military action is the price that has to be paid for the removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The change that has taken place in American policy towards Iraq is, of course, driven by strategic American considerations post-September 11. This change has been heartily welcomed in Iraqi opposition circles, even as it is feared and criticized in the rest of the Arab world.
But as I say this is not the time to pay attention to those Arab fears. They will come to nothing in the end, as they came to nothing during the Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. The 1991 divide inside Arab politics is still alive for understandable reasons.
But what might become of it in the months and years to come depends on how willing the United States is to follow through with nation building as opposed to mere regime change. To be blunt about it, there is a great deal more at stake than what we are addressing, all of us together, at this conference today than the subject of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the removal of Saddam Hussein, important and fundamental as these also are as considerations.
And it is in that spirit of interesting you in what is possible in Iraq that I would now like to share with you the kind of thinking that is going on in some Iraqi circles with which I happen to be involved and which are working closely, intimately, in fact, with some agencies of the government of this country.
[Sound system difficulties.]
MR. MAKIYA: So I said I was going to share with you some of the ideas that are being discussed among a group of Iraqis working on these questions of the future of Iraq. But I also wanted to add before we got interrupted by the sound system that nothing that I am going to say is in any way, shape or form the policy of the United States government, not yet at any rate, or even that of the Iraqi opposition, although the whole point is to make them so.
So let me begin first with a question, an issue that has for historical reasons, assumed an inordinately large role inside the Iraqi opposition, and that is the idea that the new Iraqi state that would emerge out of the ashes of the Ba'thi regime should in some way or another be federal in structure.
Now the origins of this idea began in 1992 when the, first of all, the Kurdish parliament voted for it, and then a few months later the Iraqi National Congress adopted this policy in its historic conference in Salahuddin, northern Iraq, an event which I was privileged to attend and where I was asked to deliver a keynote talk on the subject.
I came down strongly then in favor of the idea as I am in favor of it now, as a solution to the problems of the Iraqi state. Incidentally, the INC later reaffirmed the position of federalism at its 1998 conference in New York--1999, sorry.
These votes were the first of their kind in the modern history of Iraq. Taken together, I submit they break the mold of Arab politics. There is no literature in Arabic on this idea of federalism to speak of, just as there is no experience of federalism, and yet today, and this is what I mean by breaking the mold, most Iraqi organizations that oppose the regime in Iraq, whether they are in the INC or not, advocate one interpretation or another of federalism.
No Iraqi political organization in fact can afford not to these days, especially not one that calls itself democratic. That is an immense gain for the people of Iraq, one which should not be frittered away by the disagreements which have also broken out naturally over what this moveable feast of a word might actually mean.
Now, two features unite all definitions in play in the Iraqi political arena at the moment on this question of federalism. The first is the idea that federalism, whatever else it might mean, is a form of division of power, of separation of power from the center, Baghdad, towards the regions.
And the second is that no future state in Iraq can be democratic if it is not at the same time federal in structure. Now, the novelty of federalism is a reflection, I argue, of that of the novelty of the whole phenomenon of the post-1991 Iraqi opposition, an opposition grounded not in issues of, quote, "national liberation" and, quote, "armed struggle" and the struggle against "Zionism" and "imperialism," the catchall phrases that you all know of that have become part and parcel of Arab politics since 1967, but an opposition in Iraq whose be-all and end-all is hostility to its own homegrown dictatorship.
Now, admittedly, this opposition has not always been easy to deal with. It encompasses many diverse traditional and modern elements of Iraqi society. It is fractious. It is prone occasionally to in-fighting. Nonetheless, I say it is remarkable that virtually all constituent parts agree on the need for representative democracy, the rule of law, a pluralist system of government and federalism. Federalism, therefore, should be a cornerstone of the new Iraqi body politic.
Unfortunately, however, neither the Kurdish Parliament nor the INC have yet developed in detail what they mean by this new idea. We are in the course of doing so in the INC and amongst Iraqis in general. Nor have we yet as an opposition developed the practical implications of this idea with regards to the mechanics of power sharing and resource distribution.
For Kurds, as we know, the word "federalism" has become a condition sine qua non for staying inside a new Iraq, and not trying to secede from it. Without a federal system of government, in which real power is devolved towards the regions, the currently autonomous predominantly Kurdish north will sooner or later opt for separation, and rightly so. After all that has been done to the Kurds in the name of Arabism, no Iraqi should expect otherwise, and certainly no one who calls him or herself a democrat.
As a result of this, there has arisen a purely utilitarian argument for federalism, one derived from a pragmatic calculus of what the balance of power in the immediate aftermath of Saddam's overthrow is going to look like.
One must concede federalism, the argument goes among some Arabs, in the interest of getting rid of Saddam, and because the Kurds are today in a position to force it upon us.
On the other hand, on the Kurdish side, the argument goes, we must accept federalism, not because we really want it, but because the regional situation does not allow for us to secede and have a separate state in northern Iraq.
Now, I want to say that I don't think that the project as big as restructuring the state of Iraq on a federal basis should be undertaken on the grounds of this kind of utilitarian calculus. No ordinary Iraqi citizen can be expected to opt for it as an idea on such grounds of mere expediency.
Federalism, if it is to become the founding principle of a new beginning in Iraq, must derive from a position of principle, and what might that be?
To begin with, federalism is an extension of the principle of the separation of powers, only this time power is being divided as well as separated. The divisions I'm talking about are those of the regions from one another. Without the divisions of powers, there can be no federalism worthy of the name. Because the regime of Saddam Hussein was never willing to relinquish power except under duress, for example, in the 1970 accords, none of its past concessions to the Kurds could ever be taken seriously.
They were here one day and gone the next. By contrast, a truly federal system of government is a structurally new system in which power itself is from the outset both separated and divided.
From this point of view, federalism is what you might call the first step towards a state system, resting on the principle that the rights of the part or the minority should never be sacrificed to the will of the majority.
The fundamental principle of human rights surely is that the rights of the part, be that part defined as a single individual or a whole collectivity of individuals who speak another language and have their own culture, that these parts of inviolable by the state. Federalism, therefore, becomes, is about the rights of those collective parts of the mosaic that is Iraqi society.
Now, how should these different parts of the new Iraqi federation be defined? One important approach or argument rests on the idea of ethnicity as the basis of the constituent parts of the federation. An idea at play in the Iraqi arena at the moment is to have Iraq composed of two regions, the first Arab, the second Kurdish.
Ethnicity is, according to this point of view, the most fundamental basis for federalism in Iraq. Not illogically and for understandable reasons, the Kurds are the driving force behind this definition.
By and large, non-Kurdish Iraqis have three problems with this formulation:
First, it will cause ethnicity to become the basis for making territorial claims and counterclaims especially with regards to high profit resources located in one region and not another. The fight over Kirkuk, for instance, is already moving in this direction with Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman claims fighting with one another over this oil-rich city.
Second objection is that when a federation is defined as being about two ethnic groups, then clearly all the other ethnic groups who do not have a share in the federation are being to some degree or another discriminated against. Why should an Armenian or a Chaldean or a Turkoman citizen of Iraq have any less rights as an individual than an Arab or a Kurd in a post-Saddam Iraq? Such discrimination in favor of the two largest ethnic groups in Iraq is inherently undemocratic.
The third objection is that we cannot, we simply cannot map out on the ground a federation that included all the different ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. These groupings are not all territorially concentrated. There are Kurds in Baghdad and Arabs in Sulaymaniyya and there are Turkomans and Armenians and Chaldeans mixed in with Arabs and Kurds everywhere in many locations.
Therefore, a federation of many ethnic groups would be no improvement on a federation made up of only two large groups.
Now, the clear alternative to ethnicity is territoriality in which each separate region receives its share of national resources, for instance, oil revenues, according to the relative size of its population.
That is what is in effect going on in northern Iraq at the moment through the Offices of the UN's Oil for Food Program. A good argument can be made, as I believe Michael Rubin has made in a recent article that I read. In fact, I took the idea from his article, that for the extension of this UN formula to the whole of Iraq.
The future all-Iraqi federation should not be one of different ethnicities but one of different geographically defined territories within which different ethnicities may form a majority.
The point becomes not to dilute or diminish the Kurdishness of a Kurd or the Arabness of an Arab. It is to put a premium on the equality of citizenship for all.
Now, if we follow this way of thinking to its logical extreme, we end up with a corollary of territoriality as a basis for federalism. And that is a very important new idea for the Middle East, namely, that the new Iraqi state cannot be thought of any longer in any politically meaningful sense of the word as an Arab entity.
This is a novel idea for the region. And one that it will take some time for it to assimilate. But it follows inexorably from a territorial definition of regions as opposed to an ethnic one. Israel is today a Jewish state in which a substantial number of Arab Palestinians, more than a million, have Israeli citizenship, but are not and cannot in principle ever be full-fledged citizens of the state.
The fact that they live in better conditions than their brethren in the West Bank and Gaza, or certainly in better conditions than those in refugee camps all over the Arab world, is not an argument for second-class citizenship. In principle, because they are in a religiously or ethnically defined state, they are in some sense on a different status and it seems to me that one day in the future, perhaps a very long way down the line, these two principles upon which the modern state of Israel was founded, ethnicity and democracy, are probably going to have some form of, come to some sort of conflict with one another.
I argue we should not want such a formula for Iraq. Iraqis deserve to live in an area in which a Kurd or a Chaldean or an Assyrian or a Turkoman, be they male or female, can all in principle be elected to the highest offices of the land.
That means that even though the Arabs form a majority in the country, their majority status should not put them in a position ever to exclude anyone else from positions of power and influence, as has been the case in a regime led by a party that calls itself the Arab Baath Socialist Party, and that views itself as part of a larger Arab nation.
A democratic Iraq has to be an Iraq that by definition exists for all its citizens equally, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, and that means, let's face it, a non-Arab Iraq.
Which brings me to the third precondition of a genuinely democratic state in Iraq, its relationship to religion.
I said before that I was speaking only for myself and I emphasize on this subject especially I am only speaking for myself.
Nothing has so diminished Islam in recent times as its politicization. The quality of Islamic education, scholarship and spiritual guidance declined dramatically once the nationalist secular regimes of the post-colonial period came into existence and took over these functions.
Nor has the resurgence of political Islam from the 1970s onwards improved matters. On the contrary, the youth of Iran today are turning against the very clergy whom their parents had helped bring to power a generation ago. One hears criticism on the streets of Tehran these days coming from some of the more enlightened ulama who played a leading role in the '79 revolution.
Nonetheless, Iran has to be counted a success story in comparison with the atrocities that have been perpetrated in the name of Islam and among Muslims in Algeria and until recently in Egypt and the Sudan. Or in comparison, needless to say, with September 11, and the name of Osama bin Laden, and what that has done to the image of Muslims throughout the world.
The substitution of jihad for worship is the gravest travesty perpetrated upon Islam in modern times. It will take much, much work by Muslims to undo its deeply pernicious effect. And when Saddam Hussein hails the "martyrdom"--so-called--of Palestinian suicide bombers and distributes large sums of money to their families or when he uses the resources of the Iraqi people to build mosques as propaganda during the Iraqi-Iran war, he too is degrading Islam by using it to further a political agenda.
The cumulative effect of these decades of abuse has served ultimately to conceal from Muslims and Arabs, in particular, Muslim Arabs in particular, the immense and still unexamined terrain of their own great contribution to human civilization. Culture and the life of the spirit have been degraded in Iraq by action of the state. To guard against the resurgence of such abuse, Iraqis need to invent a concept of statehood that will give all religions in the country the opportunity to flourish once again.
Christianity and Judaism have very deep roots in Iraqi history. The Babylonia Tlmud was written just south of Baghdad. And the many, very many branches of the Eastern Church, which flourished in Iraq, predate Islam and are among the very earliest churches in the history of Christianity.
So what, if any, is the relationship which ought to exist between the new Iraqi state and Islam, and religion, specifically the religion of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis, Islam? That is something which ultimately, of course, only the people of Iraq can decide upon in the course of their deliberations during a transitional period.
But one way of thinking about these issues is to pose them in the very way that Iraqis have experienced this abuse of Islam by the regime of Saddam Hussein, and I would do that not by asking Iraqis the simplistic and somewhat ideological question, do you want a secular state or not, but by asking more concretely something like the following:
Do you want your future state to be involved in any way in your religious beliefs either by way of compelling or persuading you towards a religious belief?
Do you want your future state to define individual citizens as members of different religious cases, as is the case, for instance, in the confessional system in Lebanon?
Do you think, in other words, one should ask in Iraq that an individual's religious beliefs are relevant to his or her rights as a citizen, rights and obligations as a citizen?
Do you, fellow Iraqi, want your future state to promote, regulate, direct, or otherwise interfere in matters of religion through, for instance, the Ministry of Awqaf, which has a long history of such involvement?
Do you trust your Iraqi politicians enough, given your experience with them, to give them any kind of influence of control over your religious affairs?
And finally, do you think Iraqi clerics, or ulama, in their religious capacity, not as individual citizens, have the knowledge and experience required to decide upon your political affairs?
Now, if you put the question that way, I think that--but this is just a supposition--that Iraqi experience would suggest that the answer to all of these questions is no. And if I were to hazard a guess, that is how I think they would vote. That, in effect, means that the Iraqis have chosen to keep matters of politics and matters of faith separate from one another.
But I want to move on to the fourth precondition for what I consider a genuinely democratic experience in Iraq, and that is the demilitarization of the Iraqi state.
Now, I have left what is perhaps the most important question of all, given the history of Iraq's wars of aggression and build up of weapons of mass destruction until the end. And perhaps that's because my views on this have not changed since 1991, when I joined up with more than 400 other people to put my name--and by the way, 400 other Iraqis, of course, from every ethnic and religious domination, and from all walks of life, to put our names on to a document called then Charter 91. And the relevant passages of that document in relation to this question of demilitarization read as follows:
Quote: "The notion that strength resides in large-standing armies and up-to-date weapons of destruction has proved bankrupt. Real strength is always internal, in the creative, cultural, and wealth producing capabilities of a people. It is found in civil society, not in the army or in the state. Armies often threaten democracy. The larger they grow, the more they weaken civil society.
"This is what has happened in Iraq. Therefore"--the document calls--"conditional upon international and regional guarantees which secure the territorial integrity of Iraq, preferably within a framework of the overall reduction in the levels of militarization in the Middle East, a new Iraqi constitution should:"
(a)"Abolish conscription and reorganize the army into a professional, small and purely defensive force which will never be used for internal purposes."
(b)"Set an absolute upper limit on expenditure on this new force equal to say two percent of Iraqi National Income."
(c)"Have as its first article the following, quote: "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Iraqi people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. The right of the belligerency of the Iraqi state will not be recognized."
Now, this last paragraph, no doubt many of you will recognize is an adaptation of the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and it's highly significant, I think, that so many people put their names to that idea.
I am convinced that if the territorial integrity of the country were to be guaranteed by treaties and by an outside power, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis, certainly its Kurdish and Shiite populations, will vote for such a far-reaching completely transforming program of demilitarization.
Quite understandably, some sections of the Iraqi population will worry about the implications on them of such of a loss of an institution that has been important in guaranteeing some stability in the country. Those fears, particularly those of the Sunni population in Baghdad are legitimate fears, and they need to be properly addressed. The country will after all, like post-war Germany, need very powerful internal law and order institutions.
But like Germany and Japan, after World War II, Iraq's future lies in unshackling itself in no uncertain way from the burden of its past and focusing all the creative energies of the country on reconstruction and renewal, and cultural renewal.
I began by talking about regime change providing a historic opportunity for the United States government and the Iraqi opposition, an opportunity I said that was as large as anything that has happened in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
By that, you now know I meant a federal, non-Arab, demilitarized Iraq. This vision or something approximating it is achievable. Moreover, an Iraqi leadership able to work in partnership with the United States to bring it about exists. The question that I cannot answer, however, is: Will the new resolve that America has found in itself post-September 11 rise imaginatively to the level of the opportunity it is itself about to create in the Middle East?
MS. PLETKA: I'm a little bit afraid to speak into this now, but thank you very much. That was wonderful. We're going to move on to our discussants. We have at different times asserted that the shape of the peace may determine the shape of a war, and I invite our discussants to comment on Mr. Makiya's presentation and/or to talk a little bit about how peace such as the one that he describes could shape how the United States and the world moves forward.
Each discussant will take up to five minutes, and then we will have Q and A, and I apologize. We are slipping on time. Rend, perhaps you would be kind enough to begin?
MS. RAHIM FRANCKE: Thank you. I have to speak up because my voice is real low. Kanan, thank you very much. Of course, as you know, I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything you said, or everything, not almost. I have two cautions. One of them is Kanan was rightly skeptical about U.S. resolve to follow through on this kind of vision and a commitment to democracy.
And I want to say that the signs right now are absolutely inauspicious. It seems to me that the U.S. should now and not after the fall of Saddam be thinking in terms that Kanan outlined in terms of a democratic Iraq, a federal Iraq, and Iraq which is demilitarized and so on, and unfortunately, I see no signs of that.
I was very disappointed to see that the resolution, the congressional resolution, neither in the shape that it went to Congress from the White House nor in the shape that it was rephrased by the Gephardt caucus, had any mention of the U.S. contributing to establishing democracy in Iraq.
I find myself perhaps even more skeptical than Kanan on this issue, and the reason I judge that is because of the way that I see the U.S. administration working with the Iraqi opposition, which seems to me to entrench anti-democratic tendencies in the Iraqi opposition rather than the democratic tendencies.
One of the problems that the American administration will not face up to is that it has enormous leverage with Iraqis. It has now and it will have later, and that any vision that it espouses is going to influence the way that the Iraqi opposition works now and that Iraq is going to be shaped in the future.
Unfortunately, the way that the U.S. administration is working is against such democratic vision rather than for it. And one example that I will give is this extraordinary reluctance of the U.S. administration to endorse the formation of some kind of transitional authority that would be able to handle at least civilian affairs in Iraq on the day that Saddam falls.
In fact, before Saddam falls. And to actually announce its endorsement for such a transitional authority. So that we do not go into Iraq in a complete vacuum of security and a vacuum of command and authority control, which I anticipate happening.
I find that the administration is very coy in endorsing the democratic elements and the democratic vision of certain segments of the Iraqi opposition, and much more inclined to endorse what I will call in the next two minutes the regressive forces in Iraq. This leads me to my next fear in terms of actually bringing about Kanan's vision, and that is if you look at Iraq, there has been an absence of politics for 35 years. Politics really froze in 1968 in Iraq.
And what we see now, in fact, in the Iraqi political scene, there is no such thing as the Czech Civic Forum, for example, in Iraq, and this is an enormous gap, a hole, in fact, in our thinking. What do we have instead? We have political parties or political groups, political thinking, that emerged in the '60s and froze in 1968-1970.
This is the kind of political thinking that I think called extraterritorial. In other words, we have Arab nationalism. We have Islamists. We have communists. These are the sort of major culls. Of course, there are variations on these themes, but all these themes are themes that emerged in the '50s, in the '60s, and essentially froze in time, ossified in time. And there has been no injection except for the attempts by people like Kanan to inject any new type of political thinking in this Iraqi opposition.
And I think this is a very dangerous situation because when we talk about the balance of power in Iraq on the day that Saddam goes, what we have ready-made are these ossified extraterritorial ideologies with an insufficient momentum of new thinking, of modernizing thinking, that can actually emanate from the reality of Iraq and for Iraq's present and from Iraq's needs in the future.
In other words, an Iraqi politics and not an extraterritorial politics. I feel very concerned because this is a great disadvantage, and we are not going to have very much time. This kind of formation, political formation, needs to begin now, and needs to be done by Iraqis and needs to be supported by the U.S. administration, and this is where I see the administration sorely lacking.
I will stop here, Danni, and give time to other people. Thank you.
MR. OTHMAN: Kanan and Rend have left little for me to add. Being the only Kurd on this panel, I am culturally tempted to think this is a conspiracy designed to sideline the Kurdish people.
MR. OTHMAN: But seriously, though, I think it shouldn't come as a surprise to you that Iraqis of all hues are both skeptical and apprehensive about U.S. commitment to democracy in post-Saddam Iraq. After all, it's not long ago that it was official U.S. government policy to keep the Iraqi people locked in a cage with their tormentor.
I think over the last decade, we Iraqis have come to understand that the battle of Baghdad can only be won after winning that of Washington. In the latter case, and my remark here is going to be very brief, we are in dire need of the help of all Americans who believe that U.S. national interests lie in promoting democracy and human rights beyond its borders.
And I put it to you, ladies and gentlemen, that if such assistance was forthcoming, Iraqi democrats could take care of the rest.
MR. CHALABI: I think we should not line up Iraqis one after the other.
MS. PLETKA: Okay. Richard, can take care of you.
MR. PERLE: As I've listened to our Iraqi friends, my thought has been that the disappointment that the failure of the senior administration officialdom to show up is not so much because of what he or she might have had to say, but because of what he or she might have had an opportunity to hear. And we've heard some important and I think greatly encouraging views, because despite the criticism, which seems to me entirely justified, of the lack of vision that has thus far been demonstrated with respect to Iraq after Saddam, that challenge ultimately is in the hands of Iraqis.
It's in your hands, Kanan, and yours and yours. And whatever deficiencies may exist on the side of the liberators, one can't help but be impressed about the strengths of the liberated. And I have little doubt that the people of Iraq will be liberated, will get through the discussions at the United Nations, and will come to understand that inspections are not enough, won't work anyway.
And we will ultimately be driven from the default position to which governments invariably retreat, which is to alter the status quo as little as possible. It is, in fact, the natural posture of governments to accept the status quo, and when it becomes monstrously inconvenient, to change it to the minimum extent necessary.
But the liberation of Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, can't be a halfway measure. It can't stop with a short-term objective, however important, of removing from his hands the weapons of mass destruction. Can one imagine sending the Chicago police into take Al Capone's weapons away, and leaving him there? Can anyone imagine that if the weapons of mass destructions were disgorged tomorrow, we could be confident with Saddam in place that we wouldn't face the same problem again?
Of course not. The only solution in Iraq is the substitution of the thugs who now run the place with the kinds of people you see at this table.
I want to make only a couple of very brief additional comments. One of the more dangerous ideas that is already around is the idea that in the immediate post-Saddam situation, power will flow to Iraqis who are now in Iraq. One hears this notion about the Department of State. It's based on, it seems to me, the idea that people who have labored outside Iraq for the liberation of their country somehow have less credibility than those who have found a way to get along with Saddam's regime.
I think this is profoundly mistaken, and it is yet another example of the magnetic attraction of the status quo. I think it will turn out to be nonsense. The people of Iraq are not going to empower those who have lived among them as part of the oppression that they will be determined to root out.
So it is people like the people on this panel who will return to Iraq, and Iraqis in an Iraqi diaspora, who in large numbers I believe will return to Iraq, to work together with those millions of Iraqis who have been the victims of Saddam Hussein.
A second notion that it seems to me is all too readily accepted around the diplomatic establishment, but needs to be challenged, is the idea that the whole of the Arab world is somehow going to align itself with Saddam Hussein, that if military action against Iraq takes place, Arabs everywhere will associate themselves with what is one of the most vicious regimes in human history.
I think that is a demeaning, condescending view of Arabs. And I think in the event, when it becomes clear that the end result of military action against the regime of Saddam Hussein will produce the opportunity, the kind of vision you've heard around this table, the Arab world or most of it, and certainly most of the Muslim world, will consider that their honor and dignity has been restored by removing from among them a regime that they have every reason to despise along with the rest of us.
MR. CHALABI: I hope that the brave, well structured and novel ideas that Kanan has put before you and the comments of both Rend and Siyamend about the future of Iraq should put to rest any notion that Iraqis have not thought about the future and that there is going to be a vacuum of ideas and of leaders after the removal of Saddam Hussein.
I hope that this also will put to rest the notion that because people cannot identify concepts and leaders that nothing should be done to remove Saddam Hussein. Democracy and freedom in Iraq are not the enemy of stability in the region. This vision of how Iraqis will behave that is composed and discussed many times in the press and in policy circles here and in European countries and in Arab countries is not true. It is not accurate.
The concepts that Kanan has put before you are well developed ideas for a modern democratic federal state in Iraq. They may not be universally accepted now. There may be dissensions among them, but this dialogue, this discussion, is reminiscent of a discussion for nation-building in a society, in a modern society, which one must nurture and encourage to develop.
I am particularly pleased to say to you that President Bush's speech in the United Nations on September 12 was a galvanizing influence for Iraqis. Iraqis were ecstatic that the President of the United States in his speech before the United Nations adopted the program and the grievances of the Iraqi people alongside the threat of Saddam to international peace and security and his possession of weapons of mass destruction.
He spoke about genocide that Saddam has perpetrated in Iraq. He spoke about torture, about the lack of freedom and about the Iraqi people deserving a better government. This was a very strong message to the Iraqi people that finally the United States is not only concerned with Resolution 687 about disarmament, but the president was speaking about Resolution 688, which said that the government of Saddam Hussein should stop the oppression of the Iraqi people before all other United Nations resolutions in his speech.
I am also particularly gratified that after a decade of struggle, the principles that were adopted by the Iraqi National Congress Conference in Salahuddin, in 1992, have come to be seen as the unifying principles for a future Iraq. All Iraqi opposition forces accept them. The United States has come around to accepting them, and this process now is enshrined in law in the United States, which is referred to in the new congressional resolution.
And I speak of that liberation act that was passed by Congress in 1998. Rend made a very important point here. Iraq according to the prevailing political ideologies that have done battle on the Iraqi people for power are--all of them do not see Iraq as a final country. Arabism sees Iraq as part of the Arab world. Islamists see Iraq as part of the Islamic Uman [ph]. Kurdish nationalist parties see the Kurds as part of a larger Kurdish nation, and as if all those political parties and competing ideologies who have fought on the Iraqi body politic do not, are telling the people that Iraq is not worth preserving.
Of course, this is patently not true. Although Iraq was carved out of the remnant of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious allies after the First World War, the Iraqi people are an ancient people living in this society. The borders of modern Iraq are not so important as the fact of cultural continuity that have prevailed in this land since the first structure of modern societies, of society and human experience.
Iraqis are heirs to the tradition of the Sumarians, to Hammurabi's legal code, are heirs to the Jewish intellectual tradition that prevailed in Iraq, are heirs to the Muslim renaissance that prevailed in Iraq, and are heirs to the struggle of the Iraqi people in the 20th century, and the Iraqi people can move forward. I think now the way to move to translate those ideas into action and to satisfy the prerequisites that Kanan has put forward for a successful outcome in Iraq must be that the United States is engaged fully now in enabling Iraqis to seize political control of the debate now and transform this.
As soon as free Iraqis can land on any part of Arab Iraq, that this landing will be simultaneous with the proclamation of a provisional coalition government in Iraq which will seek to assert sovereignty and authority over any territory of Iraq, evacuated by Saddam, and those pieces of Iraq that continue to be under Saddam's control, and then this government should be the ally of the United States in the coming military conflict, which we don't see as a war between Iraq and the United States, but rather as a war of national liberation that the Iraqi people are waging and that the United States has now for its own purposes decided to support and to win.
This provisional coalition government will be the focus of any defecting units of the Iraqi military that do not want to defend Saddam and want a place to go, a home to go to. It will be charged with dealing with the horrendous humanitarian situation that may arise. This government will provide people with food, with emergency relief, and also with increasing the purchasing power of the Iraqi dinar to immediately improve the quality of life of the Iraqi people.
All these are possible to achieve, and then this government would then at a later stage draw up, call a constituent assembly and draw up a constitution, put to public referendum, and have elections on the basis of this constitution. The engagement of the United States is essential. The fears of Iraqis now cannot be addressed by going into the past, but rather by coming to a settlement through future hope for democracy.
And I want to emphasize also now that Iraq is a rich country. Iraq has more oil reserves than any other country in the Middle East, in the world, including Saudi Arabia. Iraqi oil is available, close to the sea and close to the ground. Iraq can pay for all those things, and Iraq with the assistance of the United States must be able to transform its underground oil wealth into readily available cash now.
This can only be done through an international economic conference that is called by the United States to deal with the issues of sanctions, reparations and Iraqi debt. These are essential components for the stability of a future Iraq.
The neighbors of Iraq are afraid of the vision that has been articulated today. They're afraid of democracy. They're afraid of federalism. They're afraid of an Iraqi state which does not proclaim a national ideology or a national identity in terms of ethnic and egregious nationalist concepts. Those fears do not stem from any misconception about the Iraqi opposition's ideas about the future of Iraq. They stem from the successful example of the implementation of those ideas in a country, in the Middle East as central as Iraq is.
I think that the United States must take stock of these potential contradictions, and I think the United States must follow the vision that is commensurate with its own values and its own ideas. The United States cannot support dictatorship over democracy, and the United States will not do that, and I don't think the United States can support tyranny over freedom in Iraq.
MR. O'HANLON: It's an honor and an inspiration to be on this panel today, and it makes me regret that my first comment may not go over so well, but I'm going to try to get beyond that quickly into a couple of other comments that may go over a little better.
The first point I'd like to make simply is that I do believe we have to continue with the President's September 12 UN strategy, putting a firm multilateral ultimatum before Iraq, putting the onus on Saddam Hussein to have the last final chance to accept international inspections and disarmament or otherwise have war as the outcome.
There is the very real chance that war will be the outcome; there is also a very real chance that war will not be the outcome. And we will ultimately accept a rigorous disarmament inspection process in my judgment.
I think this is, from my point of view, as looking at this from an American national security perspective, despite the unfortunate consequences for the Iraqi people, this is still an outcome that I could accept.
But also, perhaps more importantly for this audience today, I think it's an outcome that we have to be willing to risk in order to make sure we have the kind of support we would need to go to war if that becomes the outcome. I agree partially with Richard Perle's point that Arab countries will be supportive of this campaign regardless.
But I don't think the support is yet sufficient. The Saudi support, for example, is soft right now. If we go to war without Saudi bases, airspace and infrastructure, we are not preparing properly in a military or political sense for the kind of campaign that I think is needed. So I think you have to go through the formalities and the effort of trying to get a tough inspection disarmament process going before you make the decision to go to war.
And I think if you do that, there's a very real chance actually that you will not go to war, but if you do go to war, you will not have one hand tied behind your back.
Why is that important, getting into comments that I hope will go over perhaps a little better? If we're going to do this, we have to do in the spirit that's been articulated this morning, viewing Iraq's long-term future as a democratic state, as a core American national security interest.
We have to go in and win this war quickly, and then be prepared to help stabilize Iraq over an indefinite period, five to ten years, at a minimum, I believe, using a large fraction of American forces. This is a major undertaking. It's going to require a number of steps that among other things make the importance of Saudi bases and international participation central.
We have to assume, for example, that we will have civilian casualties that could very much and could very plausibly be large in number inside of Iraq, given the nature of the fighting, should Republican Guard Forces put up even a couple weeks of resistance. To sustain and tolerate that kind of civilian casualty toll, we need strong international support, and we need a decisive force that can win as quickly as possible, so you get beyond that phase of combat as quickly as possible.
We cannot afford a gradual war that essentially allows Iraq to become torn up and descend into a sort of civil conflict that endures or to have what I might describe as an Al Jazera effect where you have Iraqi civilians being unfortunately and inadvertently killed on TV screens around the region and the world because of American military action and have this process drag on.
If we go in, it has to be win the war quickly and then be prepared to occupy and stabilize for an extended period of time. Because I agree largely with the points that have been made by my fellow panelists about the importance of democracy and the importance of getting beyond dictatorship.
So just to wrap up, what this really means is we as Americans, as we look ahead, as much as I support the September 12 strategy and hope there will not be war as a result of a tough multilateral ultimatum to Saddam, I also think that if there is war, we have to be ready for a major undertaking. And what this means is not just the possibility of real substantial American casualties that could be several times the number from Desert Storm, it will not be an astronomical number, and it won't be a quagmire, but it could be several times as many American casualties as we suffered in Desert Storm.
We have to be ready for Iraqi civilian casualties that could be ten times that number into the many thousands, even the low tens of thousands, in the event of war, and we have to be prepared then for a military occupation that could start at 150,000 total international forces and could stay above 100,000 for several years, based on the precedents and the models that I've seen in the Balkans, in the U.S. military occupations in Germany and Japan after World War II, and in the general need to help restore stability in this country.
That means we're going to need a lot of American effort. We're also going to need a lot of allied help. One more reason why you have to do this thing as a patient ultimatum strategy through as many multilateral channels as possible because in the end, we can't keep 150,000 American forces in Iraq for ten years. We don't want to. We want to have our European allies and some of our other allies helping us very much, and that means crafting as much of a consensus as possible in advance to do this thing right.
Because if we go to war, it has to be with the intent of winning quickly, minimizing casualties, and then helping Iraq stabilize itself for perhaps a decade thereafter.
Thank you very much.
MS. PLETKA: We're going to move to questions and answers right now. We figured out what our problem which is that our wireless microphones are picking up radio frequencies. So, yes, so we're going to give it one last shot, and if they work, then that's really good, and if not, what I'm going to as you to do is stand up and say your question, and I'll repeat it into this microphone so everyone can hear.
Lauren, do you have the mikes? Okay. Why don't we go ahead. And if you would like to identify yourself, please do.
MS. RUBIN: Trudy Rubin from the Philadelphia Inquirer. There has been a lot of talk about the German and Japanese models of occupation as being relevant to post-Saddam Iraq. I wonder if some of you, particularly Kanan and Rend, and also Mr. Othman, could just focus on this and say whether you think we are looking or we need a substantial occupation, something like Michael O'Hanlon talked about with 150,000, whether that occupation would be responsible for remaking institutions or whether something much less is needed?
And if you could also speak to the issue of what should the U.S. do to prevent a conflict over Kirkuk between Turks and Kurds?
MS. RAHIM FRANCKE: I'll hazard this, Trudy. In my view, I don't agree at all that we need 150,000 troops for five to ten years and even more. This is, I'm sorry to say it, I think a grotesque misrepresentation of the situation.
Certainly, I believe, and I speak very personally here, I believe a certain U.S. presence, military presence, is going to be needed and is desirable in Iraq for a number of years.
However, I also think that a very high presence of civilian institutions, both governmental and non-governmental American institutions, and European for that matter, is going to be needed. The military presence should be there. It should be discrete, barracks and so on. It should be really largely used to secure Iraq's territorial integrity.
And in the meantime, and this is why I find the experience in Afghanistan so disturbing, in the meantime I think there has to be a much, much more serious effort rebuilding the police force, purging the military, in a sense remodeling the military along apolitical, non-ideological modern lines, and a great deal more has to go into Iraq that is now going into Afghanistan. So it does worry me.
But I certainly don't think that an occupation by 150,000 troops, American troops, is needed for five to ten years or even more.
MS. PLETKA: Anybody else have anything to add?
MR. CHALABI: We agree, I think, with what Rend says.
MS. PLETKA: Okay. All right.
MR. OTHMAN: Well, I think on the issue of Kirkuk, so long as there is no outside interference and so long as there is no mettling and so long as Turkoman and Arabs and Iraqis and Kurds see themselves foremostly as Iraqis, then I think this problem can be resolved internally.
MS. RUBIN: Could I just pursue that a bit more? Because specifically if Kurdish forces go into Kirkuk, I mean there might not be the time to resolve this peacefully. So does it need to be resolved in advance by perhaps declaring Kirkuk off limits, having U.S. troops there? I mean is that something that should be resolved now before war starts?
MR. OTHMAN: I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the Kurdish leadership but what I can say is that I think there are tacit agreements that the Kurds will not go into Kirkuk, but having said that, from a Kurdish point of view, we perceive another danger, and that is of Turkish mettling and interference in Iraqi affairs, and we are very worried about that as Kurds as a whole.
MS. PLETKA: Bring the microphone. This gentleman here, please, if we could pass the microphone to him, and I promise we'll look at the sides as well. I apologize. Thank you.
MR. LEWIS: Before I get to my question, may I make a brief comment on the previous one, and my memory may be faulty, but I seem to recall that the large military presence in Germany and Japan had something to do with a Cold War against an entity called the Soviet Union, and if I'm not mistaken, the Soviet Union no longer exists, and the Cold War has terminated. So that particular reason for a large military presence no longer applies.
My question relates to the issue of federalism, sort of federal, con-federal institution, and I wonder whether something like devolution might not be more appropriate, the kind of arrangement which exists within the United Kingdom, rather than the complex and often difficult kind of institutions required to operate federalism, particularly where, as in Iraq, the definition of the federal entities is not all that clear?
On the Kurdish question, I am reminded of a conversation I had some time ago with a Turkish friend. I suggested that the solution might be something like the arrangement which exists between the English and the Scots in the United Kingdom. His reply was the Kurds are not Scots, they're Irish.
MS. PLETKA: Which particularly not-Irishman is going to take this? Perhaps Michael O'Hanlon would like to defend.
MR. MAKIYA: Can I comment on the devolution idea? My understanding of devolution is that it is something that is given up by the states but can be taken back again very quickly. It's not built into the--
MR. LEWIS: In theory, yes; in practice, no.
MR. MAKIYA: In England, in practice, no, but I mean I just--whereas federalism is something that from the outset you separate out. So that was the--I worried about that example. After all, Saddam Hussein offered something he called autonomy, which was viewed at the time, in March 1970, as a format. He was really very generous by Kurdish standards, but of course it meant nothing. So that was my only comment, why I chose the word "federalism" instead of the notion of devolution.
MR. LEWIS: It was a question, not an objection.
MR. MAKIYA: Oh, no, no. I understand.
MR. O'HANLON: I just wanted to make one quick comment on the ongoing debate about occupation requirements. As you know, Professor Lewis, there were a period of years when in both Japan and Germany when we did have to worry about getting rid of the influence of the Nazis and getting rid of the influence of the Tojo regime before the big post-war anti-Soviet occupations began, or not occupations, but deployments, and that was a period of roughly five to ten years.
Now, I hope very much we can figure out a clever way to do this in Iraq that requires fewer forces. It would be wonderful, and maybe the number is 100,000, maybe the number if 75,000. I don't know what the number is, but you have to worry about deterring neighbors of Iraq from encroaching.
You have to worry about how much of the Iraqi military is still, not necessarily going to be loyal to Saddam, but is going to be of questionable loyalty to whatever new government you're trying to create. You would know more about how to think about that than I do, but in the first year to two, at least, I would rather err on the side of big numbers, and maybe that's a risk in and of itself, but that seems to me the prudent course for these reasons. You don't know what part of the Iraqi military is going to want to be supportive of the new regime.
It's going to take you awhile to build up these new forces, and you have to worry about the neighbors in the meantime, so I tend to think you want to stay relatively big. Go in with a couple hundred thousand coalition forces in the initial warfighting effort, and leave a large fraction of those people in place for one to two years. But I'm very glad to hear that you're more optimistic about the numbers possibly being lower.
MS. PLETKA: Over here. Oh, Richard, were you going to add? Sorry.
MR. PERLE: Yes. I do want to make a brief comment. I can't help but observe first of all that in all the talk of quarrelsome fractious Iraqi opposition, there is a bigger disagreement between the two Americans on this panel than there is among the Iraqis.
And I share Rend's view. I don't believe that anything like a long-term commitment of 150,000 Americans would be necessary. The analogy with Germany and Japan it seems to me ignores the difference between an ideology in both places that had captured the allegiance of a significant number of people spread throughout the country in both cases.
There's no ideology that sustains Saddam Hussein, and it seems to me the situation is likely to be rather more like that which emerged in Romania after Ceausescu. I mean there was no support for Ceausescu the moment he was gone. There wasn't much support in Italy for Mussolini after he was gone.
I think Saddam has earned a unique position among the Iraqi people, which is there will be no one fighting for him or his memory, once it becomes clear that he is going to be defeated, and so the question of civil order under those circumstances is entirely different.
Secondly, to come back to the other point on which I disagree with Michael, and I don't want to let pass, I can't imagine an inspection regime in Iraq that could give us any confidence at all that we had Saddam's weapons of mass destruction under control, and it seems to me ironic that Michael envisions 150,000 Americans to police a post-Saddam Iraq.
The number of inspectors that Hans Blix intends to produce in Iraq is, I believe, 220, for a country the size of France. It is not only inadequate, it is a farce, and I think we should face the reality. There is no realistic prospect that an inspection regime anything like the one that Hans Blix has in mind could unearth Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
And I'll take it a step further. I can't even design in my own mind an inspection regime that would be effective unless it begins to look like the occupation force that Michael O'Hanlon has in mind. So inspections are not a serious alternative. If we are concerned about weapons of mass destruction, to say nothing about the importance of supporting the democratic aspirations that we've heard around this table, inspections cannot remove weapons of mass destruction.
And the belief that they can is one of the reasons why we haven't faced up fully to the importance of post-Saddam Iraq.
MS. PLETKA: I'm sorry. I was calling on that gentleman. I'm sorry.
MR. ENGINSOY: This is Umit Enginsoy with Turkey's NTV Television. And my question is for Secretary Perle. Mr. Secretary, do you think Turkey's concerns about the creation of a Kurdish state in a post-Saddam Iraq are justified, and do you think that the United States will dispel this, and persuade Turkey to cooperate with them in one way or another? Thank you.
MR. PERLE: You've heard today from Iraqis unanimity on the point that in a post-Saddam situation, the ambition is for a nation, perhaps with a federal structure or something like it, but in any case, a nation in which the central authority of a central government for, and I'm elaborating here, for defense and foreign policy and the like would exist, and that seems to me inconsistent with the idea of a separate Kurdish state.
The Kurds have every right to a degree of self-government that is entirely consistent with that vision of the unitary Iraq. So I'm pretty confident that having eliminated Saddam Hussein, we are not going to see the region torn by yet another conflict over a Kurdish succession.
None of the Kurdish leaders have said that that's what they want. You haven't heard anyone here say that that's part of their vision, so I'm pretty comfortable about that.
And I think the Turkish leadership is increasingly comfortable with that, as they've made progress in dealing with the PKK and that threat has subsided. Turks now look, it seems to me, with much greater detachment and are not nearly so concerned as they were a few years ago that any change in Iraq would inevitably produce a situation in the North that would bad for Turkey. I don't hear that argument any more the way I used to a few years ago.
MS. PLETKA: Anybody else comment? No? Okay. May I turn to the gentleman over there? Thank you, Lauren. Yes, you.
MR. SHAWKAT: Mudhar Shawkat. Kanan, you know, we've been schoolmates and we've known each other for a long, long time, and I've always commented to a lot of people, friends, that you really, since I knew you when we were at the American Jesuit School in Baghdad, you've always been sort of ten years ahead of any one of us in terms of thinking of the future, especially the future of Iraq.
In your comments, you touched on about almost everything except one thing that I was sort of eager to listen for, which is the participation of Iraq in NATO. If we see Iraq tomorrow as a democracy, as a nation that we build in the area rather than destruct, a nation that would be an asset to the world rather than what it is today, what would stop it from becoming part of the NATO, and therefore the put the question of its national integrity question to rest?
I believe that I would like very much to see what your thinking of that notion is. And maybe that will put this sort of how many military troops we need to have in the area or in Iraq, whether it's Americans or whether it's United Nations, whether it's Iraqi--I do agree with you, demilitarization of Iraq is necessary in the very near future--but I think if we become part of NATO, then that most probably would put this issue to rest. Thank you.
MR. MAKIYA: To be absolutely frank with you, Mudhar, this is the first time I think about the proposal.
MR. MAKIYA: It's a completely new idea, so I did make the point that Iraq needs to be bound by treaty in some way to protect its territorial integrity. That's crucial. Now, how that's going to be done is a very complex question.
You know I wouldn't exclude anything myself, because my ultimate objective really is to achieve that permanent cap, if you like, on the army so that we can focus the energies of the country on reconstruction and not have the danger hanging in the background, which our own past tells us is a danger of perhaps the army acting and taking power in certain situations. So to put that to bed, for a whole series of reasons.
What form that takes, it's, you know, it's a tantalizing idea, but I haven't thought it through. So I will just leave it there.
MS. PLETKA: Okay. If the next people would be kind enough to keep their questions brief. That lady over there, please.
MS. ROSETT: Hi. Claudia Rosett with The Wall Street Journal, and a question for Mr. Chalabi and Mr. Makiya. Could you tell us if you have received any kind of support from other dissident groups in the Middle East or from any governments there?
MR. CHALABI: The answer is no and no.
MS. ROSETT: Thank you.
MS. PLETKA: That was brief.
MR. MAKIYA: Absolutely. I just would add to that that not only no support. Unfortunately, the Iraqi opposition is ostracized in the rest of the Middle East. It's worse than not having support. It's an actual sort of an assumption that it doesn't even exist, that it's not relevant. When the Arab world talks about Iraq, it excludes the fact that there is an opposition, and that is a very, very tragic state of affairs.
It's by now, by the way, a very old divide. It goes back at least 11 years to 1991, and to the whole reaction of the Middle East, the Arab world, to the Gulf War, so it's a deepening divide, and hopefully it will be overcome by the example that Iraqis set inside Iraq. That is the only way I see of overcoming it in the short term.
MS. PLETKA: Please go ahead. Hang on. Wait for the microphone.
MS. NIRENSTEIN: Fiamma Nirenstein. I'm a journalist. I'm an Italian journalist in Jerusalem. Now, I have a question for Ahmad and for Richard, please. In all of your remarks, we have seen two actors on the stage which is the United States and the Iraqi people of both sides. What about the presence of Israel in the area? I mean Saddam can shoot a missile on Tel Aviv and makes plenty of casualties, which is by the way quite a possible situation, what will happen afterwards? How will the dynamics work between the actors on the stage?
MR. CHALABI: The record of Israel is supporting freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people over the past decade has been less than brilliant. It has been, they have taken the attitude that democracy is impossible in Iraq. And that they have, on the other hand, also taken the attitude that we better keep things as they are for fear of either Saddam doing something against us or of getting the situation out of control.
Israel will decide to defend itself according to its likes. Whether they will accept United States guarantees or move forward to react to Saddam doing something against them is something that is up to them and to the United States. We have very little to do it, because we are not involved in anything to do with them, not because of us, but because of them. It is rather late for us to do anything about that now.
MR. PERLE: If I could just add on sort of the practical issue, Fiam, Saddam has some capabilities certainly to deliver relatively short range missiles from positions in the western desert, such that they could reach targets in Israel, and the fear, of course, is that he would do that as he did it in 1991, this time using more lethal warheads than the high explosives that were used in 1991, and in particular chemical or even biological warheads.
I think to the best opinion I can gather, the number of such missiles is relatively small. Not all of them will function properly, which was the case in 1991 as well. Some of them may well be detected before they can be fired. We have intelligence capabilities today that we didn't have in 1991. The Israelis now have an intercept capability in a system called the ARROW, which there is good reason to believe could be effective against a modest number of missiles reaching the territory that would be defended.
So no one can say there is no risk of this, but I think the risk has been overstated. It is, I think, unlikely that large numbers of casualties can be inflicted by this method, but in all of these matters, there is an irreducible uncertainty. We just don't know. It could happen.
The theory that Saddam will lob missiles at Israel in the belief that if the Israelis respond that will somehow turn the tide, I think is a pretty feeble theory. If he gives orders of that nature at a time when it's a desperate act because he's about to go down, then it's fair to ask whether those orders will be complied with by people who are also aware that he's about to go down.
And I think the United States has made it clear that there will be no Nuremberg defense, that we will hold individuals responsible for their action. The Iraqi officer who orders such an attack, the soldiers who carry it out, will be acting without any protection, and I hope with no mercy from the international community when the war is over.
MR. O'HANLON: Could I just agree with my pal, Richard Perle, on this point, and in fact even add one more argument, which is that I believe Scud missiles will not function very well at dispersing chemical or biological agent, because we've seen how they break up on reentry.
One thing the sanctions have done since the Gulf War is prevent him from testing those even if he's managed to stash a few away. I don't think that the threat will be as serious as many fear, and by the way, I hope Richard is right and others are right on the occupation issue. There is room for debate about which models one should consider, and I don't mean to imply that there's a perfect correlation with any particular country like Japan or Germany. They're the Balkans models to look at.
There are other models to look at as well, and I hope very much the numbers wind up being considerably smaller. So on that point, as well, even though we differ, I hope very much that he turns out to be right.
MS. PLETKA: Just a couple more questions if that's okay.
MR. WOOD: David Wood, Vanity Fair Magazine. Several members of the panel have spoken of their disappointment at what Kanan Makiya well described as the selfishness of U.S. policy towards Iraq in seeing a purely utilitarian question of weapons of mass destruction and so forth, and the failure to engage constructively and support the Iraqi opposition.
I observe that this contrasts strongly with the period that saw victory in the Cold War under President Reagan when a whole variety of covert and overt programs did an enormous amount to foster civil society and eventually successor regimes in Eastern Europe. And I ask whether the reason for this apparent discontinuity or the failure to support those programs is because what the U.S. cannot do is make an exception of Iraq.
What we seem to be saying is while supporting authoritarian regimes of various hues from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and so on in the Middle East, we will support democracy in Iraq. Now, is it even conceivable U.S. policy can actually do that, can support the Iraqi opposition, without addressing these broader questions of decades of ingrained attitudes and policy towards the region as a whole?
MS. PLETKA: Why don't you go ahead, Rend.
MS. RAHIM FRANCKE: Maybe an American should answer it.
MR. OTHMAN: Yes, you are an American.
MS. RAHIM FRANCKE: Let me--I am an American. Very good question. First of all, one does wonder, but I have a couple of explanations. One of them is that I think that the U.S., and this is irrespective of whether it's a Democratic or a Republican administration, because in fact the institutions of state, I've noticed from watching over the last ten, 11 years, have a certain continuity. The momentum is undistracted and completely changed by a change in a political party.
But it seems to me that there is a very sincere belief that this entire region is beyond redemption, and one can tinker along the edges and can make minor changes here and there, but to expect this region, an Arab and Muslim region, to reform and to move towards democracy in the same way that Central Europe was expected to, and one hoped would do, simply doesn't occur to people in government.
And so I think this is one of the reasons for the reluctance to engage the democratic elements in the Iraqi opposition and the tendency of administrations, successive administrations, is to fall back on the same old, same old type of sort of organizations and visions of Iraq, as more of the same kinder, gentler authoritarianism because this is the mode of the Middle East.
And I think there may be other reasons because, well, if we do in Iraq, we have to do in Saudi Arabia. That may enter into it. But I think fundamentally it's because they see it as an unredeemable region, from that point of view.
MR. PERLE: I think that's quite right. For a long time, it was widely believed that the best we could hope for with the Soviet Union was an accommodation, whether peaceful coexistence or detente, or some other arrangement that recognized the permanence and the inevitability of a communist regime in Moscow.
And you were quite right to identify Ronald Reagan who was the first American president to challenge that notion, to say we don't have to accept the permanence of the Soviet Union. It is vulnerable. People who rule the way the Soviet leaders rule are bound to be vulnerable. Their economy can't perform, and a number of things were done, including what I think was an absolutely invaluable and critical moral dimension, which was contained in speeches like the evil empire speech.
We've had a succession of administrations that have been all too ready to accept where the enterprise seemed hard or risky. The last administration, for example, had no interest whatever in taking any risks with respect to Iraq, even insofar as weapons of mass destruction were concerned.
This is a different administration, and this President is a different president, and you have heard things from him on issues like Palestinian reform, like the axis of evil, that are reminiscent of Ronald Reagan in many ways, and I think foreshadow a very different attitude.
He has not yet brought a well established and deeply entrenched bureaucracy, as far as ultimately I think it will be forced to go in support of the President's policies. But I have no doubt that he has the vision that Ronald Reagan had, and can envision, can contemplate change on a very large scale in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
MS. PLETKA: I'm going to have to end this, I think, and I apologize to everybody who didn't get to ask a question, but we're running about a half an hour late. And so we'll take a five minute break, if we may, and move on to our next panel, and thank you all very much. Wonderful.
MR. GERECHT: Ladies and gentlemen, if we could perhaps get going again, and could the War Crimes Panel come up to the table. All right. This panel is going to be on war crimes. I think it is possible to say that there's probably no more emotionally provocative and socially disruptive problem that may confront a post-Saddam Iraq than the issue of war crimes, how you maintain humanity and also do justice, after such barbarism, after so many, you have so many individuals who are guilty obviously of the worst forms of war crime and so many others through fear have covered themselves with shame.
It is needless to say a very, very provocative issue, and it's one that obviously the Iraq people, first and foremost, and their American liberators are going to have to deal with.
Today our presenter will be Feisal Istrabadi, who is an attorney at Boesch & Istrabadi He's also a member of the planning committee for the State Department' Future of Iraq Project.
We will also have on our panel Munther al Fadhal, who is an associate professor, visiting associate professor of Middle Eastern law at the International College of Law in London. He, too, is also a member of the United States State Department's Working Group on the Future of Iraq, which I think given those two jobs, he's obviously a man of very extraordinarily stout heart.
Also, quite stout and heart is Hania Mufti, who is the London Director of the Middle Eastern and North African Division of the Human Rights Watch, who will also be commenting.
And we're also very pleased to have Ruth Wedgwood, who is a professor of law at Yale University. She has served on the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee for International Law and is also the Director of Studies at the Hague Academy of International Law.
I just wish to note that we will have a translator for Mr. Al Fadhal. So there will be a slight little time delay there. Mr. Istrabadi.
MR. ISTRABADI: Thank you very much. I'm going to stand at the podium. Sitting at the back, it was sometimes a bit difficult to see. So I thought I'd stand here.
The American Enterprise Institute Seminars on Iraq ask the question: "Whither Iraq"? Whither indeed. 22 million Iraqis in and out of diaspora ponder the same question. There has been much talk from U.S. officials about democracy in a future Iraq, but one can be forgiven for being skeptical of their reassurances.
Some representatives of the Iraqi opposition have publicly stated their view that the State Department is frustrating attempts by other departments to establish democracy in Iraq. I think we heard echoes of that from Mr. Perle this morning. Yet, when Secretary Rumsfeld was asked about the possibilities of a post-Saddam government two weeks ago, he dismissively referred to the notion of democracy there, stating that that was something the State Department was working on.
On Tuesday, the President's spokesman equated regime change with a bullet in Saddam's head. I understand there was much retrenchment yesterday.
A cynic might well ponder, "Whither U.S. policy in Iraq?" But that is a topic for another day.
For the purpose of this presentation, I have assumed that the Baathist government in Baghdad will not be replaced by another dictator more or less beneficent than Saddam. No dictator would be interested in my topic, which is the title of my topic is "Questions of Justice in Iraq's Transition to Democracy."
No dictator would be interested in addressing my topic or the previous regime's human rights crimes, establishing processes which might be used against him one day. Therefore, I assume that the transition following the Baathists will be one to democracy.
I will accordingly briefly consider the legal context both international and domestic under which mechanisms might operate for holding individuals liable for their crimes committed on behalf of the state. I will then outline my views of how accountability and reconciliation might unfold. I will explore the tensions between accountability and reconciliation and how those tensions might be resolved.
I will conclude with a brief consideration of amnesty and why I believe that amnesty as such must be avoided, though I am willing to accept a nolle prosequi under the right circumstances.
It is disappointing, though perhaps not surprising, that the legal framework for holding officials liable for crimes committed during international conflicts is far more sophisticated and well defined than it is for crimes committed by governments against their own people.
Because this regime is guilty of both classes of crimes, however, it is useful to start with a consideration of the legal framework within which members of the Iraqi regime can be held liable for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, by considering their culpability under international norms.
It is jarring to recall that the current Iraqi leadership has involved itself in three distinct international conflicts over the past 22 years, and it may embark on a fourth. It has been in a technical state of war continuously for 22 of the last 23 years since Saddam Hussein assumed the presidency.
In this connection, that is to say in discussing the issues relating to international norms, I begin by noting that Iraq bound itself to the terms of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, to which it acceded on February 14, 1956.
Now, to set the flavor, and that's just all I'm going to do--in fact, my remarks about the norms of international law, I'm going to digest a little bit here because they sort of have the effect of being something of a catalogue which may or may not be interesting if you're not a lawyer.
But to set the flavor of the international norms relating to this topic, let me refer specifically to one of the Four Conventions, one of the Four Geneva Convention, 49, the convention protecting civilians in time of war. The list of proscribed activities contained in this convention and the concomitant list of Iraq's violations of it is ponderous.
Occupying powers are, for instance, required to facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children. I have a big lacuna here. Penal laws may be altered by an occupying power under limited circumstances, and then only after adequate notice has been published for the occupied in their own language.
The application of changes to the penal code ex post facto is prohibited. The death penalty can be imposed by an occupying power only if certain procedural protections are followed, and in any event, never against an occupied person under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.
The right to call witnesses, to the assistance of counsel, to present evidence, to a interpreter, and to an appeal are all guaranteed. And so it goes. Article after article after article providing substantive rights chargeable to an occupier of a population by foreign aggressors. Even the dead have rights.
But that convention concluded as it was in 1949 was not merely a recital of the aspirations of a world still fatigued by five years of war. Article 146--and the Convention is in about 180 articles--Article 146 of the Convention mandates, first, that the high contracting parties undertake to enact legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing or ordering to be committed any of the grave breaches of the Convention.
More importantly, the Convention requires the contracting parties to search for persons who are alleged to have committed these acts and also to bring, and the legal language in it--it's a legal term of art--shall bring such persons regardless of their nationality before its own courts. Each high contracting party has the obligation of bringing violators of the Convention before their own courts or before its own courts.
Protocol I additional to the 1949 Convention, to which I shall return in a moment, is even more blunt in respect to the duties countries owe one another in terms of a rogue leadership's criminal liability. The protocol emphasizes again that countries have to afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with criminal proceedings brought in respect to grave breaches of the conventions or of the protocol.
States are required to cooperate in the matter of extradition as well as in all criminal proceedings.
Most importantly, in the context of international conflict, immunity, even for heads of states is absolutely barred. Thus, for grave breaches listed in Article 147 in international conflicts, states and their leaders may not immunize themselves, nor may they recognize immunities in others. That protocol, the first protocol of 1977, is itself ponderous, occupying 102 articles and containing an annex of 16 additional articles.
Once again, I'm going to abbreviate the catalogue of applicable violations of that protocol. But the protocol prescribes that the choice of the methods of war are not unlimited. It is prohibited, for instance, to employ weapons and methods of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage, for instance, even to the natural environment.
Prohibitions against the targeting of civilians are more to the point, and individuals, indiscriminate attacks, reprisals against civilians and other such acts are regarded--those prohibitions are regarded as always obligatory and threatening or committing to threaten murder, torture, mutilation, outrages upon the dignity or indecent assault, the taking of hostages, and collective punishments are, of course, outlawed.
Commanders have an affirmative obligation to take steps to prevent those in their command from violating the conventions or the protocol.
Under principles of international law, therefore, the Iraqi Transitional Authority, about which we heard somewhat this morning, which I will refer to as the ITA, and the permanent government of Iraq thereafter, will have a non-derogable duty to investigate, prosecute and punish those Iraqis responsible for Iraq's war crimes and crimes against humanity in waging aggressive wars against Iraq's neighbors. The ITA in my view must not make a political accommodation by failing to bring these individuals to justice.
Now, the state of international law on crimes committed against a country's own population leave much to the imagination. In contrast to the prolix documents dealing with international conflicts, Protocol II of 1977, relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts, can barely muster 28 articles. It is derived from Article 3, common to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which states that in the case of an armed conflict not of an international character, the parties to the conflict at a minimum, and that is the language used, must treat civilians humanely, without distinction, and refrain from violence, in particular, murder, mutilation, torture, the taking of hostages, outrages upon personal dignity, and the passing of sentence and carrying out of executions without previous judgment announced by a regularly constituted court.
That brief list and my recitation of it is exhaustive, of what Article III contains is more or less reproduced in Protocol II, except that more detail is provided. Collective punishment, for instance, is added, as are acts of terrorism. Rape is specifically mentioned as a prohibited activity as is slavery and pillaging or the threat to undertake these activities.
Unfortunately, none of the specific mandatory language appearing in the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I relating to international conflicts appears in Protocol II.
Professor Cherif Bassiouni notes, however, an implicit argument that such a mandatory duty exists. I'm talking about the duty to prosecute, the duty to extradite, and the duty to cooperate in those things. Bassiouni argues that there is, in fact, such a duty under an international law. He considers such a duty, therefore, as jus cogens, or a part of preemptory international law, imposing a non-derogable obligation upon all to assist in investigations, extraditions and prosecutions.
Now, regardless of whether Professor Bassiouni is right that Protocol II is jus cogens and the other Latin term, obligatio erga omnes, which I think is translated as obligations flowing to all, the ITA must announce that it regards itself as bound to apply Protocol II.
If vigilantism has any hope of being avoided in Iraq, its populace must come to believe that for once its government will take the initiative to vindicate the rights of its citizens to justice.
Two other principles need to be mentioned, and we could obviously burn up the whole day talking about international principles here. There is another treaty I don't even mention in my prepared text. That's the treaty on torture and so on, the convention on torture. But two other principles at least need to be mentioned, if only in passing. At the very least, the leadership in Iraq over the last 34 years is guilty of the crime of genocide against Iraq's Kurdish population.
Iraq signed the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide on 20 January 1959. The Genocide Convention makes it a crime under international law, among other things, to kill any group because of its national, ethnic, racial or religious nature.
Notice the limitations. You can line up communists and shoot them. That's not genocide.
MR. ISTRABADI: I could have said Republicans, but in this crowd I thought I shouldn't.
MR. ISTRABADI: The burden of proof for this crime, however, is a heavy one. The actor must have acted with intent to destroy in whole or in part the protected classification. Article 4 rescinds any attempt at immunity for heads of state or other constitutionally responsible officers and Article 5 requires the international community to enact laws "to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of genocide."
Signatories to the conventions agree to grant extradition in cases involving violations of the convention. Obviously, this convention will be a source of indictment against the Iraqi leadership responsible for Iraq's mistreatment of the Kurds and other groups.
The other source that I'll just mention very quickly are the Nuremberg an Tokyo charters which help to establish the concept of crimes against humanity as a part of the norms of international law. There are no conventions or treaties in respect to that, however,
I have thus far focused on international considerations for several reasons, not least of these reasons is that international law appears to impose an obligation upon Iraq and others to investigate, seek a extradition where appropriate and prosecute those guilty of perpetrating war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, even when these crimes were committed domestically.
That's a bit of obviously endorsing Bassiouni's view, but that may be optimistic. But by no means do I focus upon considerations of international law to the exclusion of Iraq's domestic law. Those who carried out the acts of genocide in places like Halabja or who participated in the Anfal campaign or the suppression of the rebellion in southern Iraq, or in the systematic rape of women, or who tortured and killed political prisoners must be held liable under provisions of Iraq's criminal code.
Saddam Hussein and his cronies who are indictable on the basis of command responsibility under international law are obviously indictable under the provisions of domestic law for committing and conspiring to commit these various crimes.
There is an important value to be served by constituting a tribunal to try Iraq's leadership under both domestic as well as international law. The most important value served by doing so may be entirely symbolic, to demonstrate that laws against murder, rape, torture and the like have the force of law, even in a country such as Iraq where the rule of law has been absent for 44 years.
Thus, trying criminal defendants under domestic law not only sends a message establishing a break with Iraq's immediate lawless past. More importantly it sets a precedent for future leaders both at the national as well as for leaders of provinces and federated states. Their abuses of civil and human rights of those whom they govern will no longer be tolerated.
And let me make a break here. We've talked about federalism, and I think that among the things that the federal government ought to be charged, the Baghdad central government, in addition to foreign policy, you know, defense policy, et cetera, one of the things that I think will be important for it to do as well is to have jurisdiction, not exclusive jurisdiction, but concomitant jurisdiction to enforce civil rights laws.
Business will no longer be done in the usual way in the Iraq of the future. There will be transparency and accountability including criminal liability from Iraq's leaders.
A colleague who has already spoken this morning, Rend Rahim Francke, recently suggested to me something which I must confess I had not thought of. Recalling that the English Parliament executed Charles I on a charge of treason for waging war against his own people, she wondered why the Iraqi leadership should not be subjected to a similar charge?
No foreign enemy could have destroyed Iraq so thoroughly, root and branch, as the government of Iraq has done over the last 34 years. It has spilt the blood of Iraq's citizens, dispersed its population, waged two aggressive wars, subjected the nation to utter desolation in 1991 and is prepared to do so again 11 years later. If this record does not establish treason, nothing could.
There is another reason also pointed out by Mrs. Francke for why trials on a charge of treason may be an indispensable part of the healing process that Iraq must yet traverse. No doubt women who have been raped as a matter of state policy will find a measure of vindication in seeing those who raped them and those who set the policy tried for crimes against humanity and rape and conspiracy to commit rape.
But an Iraqi who has suffered no particularly direct depredation other than living in the republic of fear might find that such trials have no direct bearing on him. Holding the leadership of Iraq liable on a charge of treason vindicates the nation as a whole.
It acknowledges that even those who have not suffered physically from the regime have, none the less, been profoundly injured by a ruling class which has ruled too callously for too long.
This brings us to the necessity of a domestic tribunal constituted under Iraqi domestic law with jurisdiction to proceed under domestic and international legal norms.
That is something of which the Germans were largely deprived by the Nuremberg trials. If the Iraqis are to begin building domestic political institutions, they might as well start now. And start with what may be the most important such institution a burgeoning democracy needs: an independent judiciary.
To be sure, there will have to be much training on the part of the international community. Judges will have to be trained in their obligations as will prosecutors. Defense lawyers will have to be retrained to become zealous advocates of their client's rights rather than mere pawns in a judicial lynching.
But the value of coming to terms with the enormity of what has befallen them over more than a generation will, I hope, accomplish two goals. First, it will begin the road of recovery from Iraq's national nightmare; second, it will contribute to a resolution which Iraqis, too, must adopt: never again.
An issue with which the ITA will have to deal in prosecuting Iraq's current leadership under domestic law is that of immunity. Iraq's interim constitution of 1970 and 1990 both contain an article immunizing all members of the Revolutionary Command Council from prosecution.
Now, before I go further, I should point out that that is a matter of some dispute. That is to say as to which interim constitution currently applies in Iraq. Since the coup d'etat of 1958 overthrowing the monarchy, Iraq has had several interim constitutions but no permanent one.
It is not entirely clear whether the interim constitution of 1990 was ever ratified or whether Iraq continues to operate under the interim constitution of 1970. In any event, I propose to dispose of the dispute by reference to Iraq's only permanent constitution, and the only constitution on which Iraqis have ever had the chance to vote and the only one ever adopted by them.
That is again the constitution of 1925, and that is significant because that constitution did not contain any immunity provision. Indeed, it contained a specific provision for the trial of cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and judges.
Accordingly, any attempt to immunize Iraq's criminal ruling class under domestic law is void as unconstitutional.
Accountability will be amongst the first orders of business for the ITA. As I have suggested earlier, accountability is the first principle of justice, and justice must not only be done, Iraq's population must see it being done. Otherwise, reprisal and revenge will be the order of the day, making the task of rebuilding and reconstituting a civilized nation next to impossible.
The process of holding Iraq's criminal ruling class and others criminally liable for their malfeasance must be done largely in public. Trials must be open and prior to their commencement, the processes must be explained in the media so that ordinary citizens will understand what is unfolding.
Whatever system of accountability and reconciliation ultimately obtains in Iraq, it will only work if the population at large buys into the process.
There are generally four categories of violators who should to varying degrees be subjected to the processes of accountability. The first and most obvious category is that of the decision-makers respecting the policies set by the government of Iraq which violate international and domestic norms.
Obviously, the president of the Republic of Iraq, its vice presidents, members of the RCC, cabinet members, senior corps commanders, and other high ranking officials presumptively fall into this first category.
For these individuals, whether it is a decision-maker under the principle of command responsibility or a conspiracy to commit domestic lawless acts, there should be full prosecution under international and domestic laws.
I understand that a rational approach would require some exercise of discretion. Let me give an example, although I want to be very clear that I am not here suggesting that this example as such is necessarily true, but it simply illustrates a larger point.
The health minister who served in that capacity in March of 1988, assuming he was not a member of the RCC, might well have no criminal exposure on a charge related to the gassing of Halabja. One might suggest that he should face no prosecution at all. The alternative would encompass the prosecution even of the health minister, but obviously allow him to defend it affirmatively by establishing that he had, in fact, no command responsibility for the gassing of Halabja.
While I have much sympathy with this latter view--in fact, it's my view--indicting commissions must have discretion in deciding whom to prosecute based upon the evidence.
Of course, liability within this category is not dependent on the title of the individual, and here there is a mistake in my prepared remarks. I apologize to my fellow panelists. Let me amend it and say it correctly. Even if Saddam's sons occupied low level positions in the Iraqi government and/or the Baath Party, which they did at one time, though at least one of them I think has moved up in the world, they would still qualify as category one violators. The indicting body must be allowed the freedom to exercise discretion ad hoc as it drafts bills of indictment.
Its considerations must center on actual power wielded, not simply on rank or title. Now, others have taken the opposing view, arguing that the fact that someone is a member of the RCC does not require him to be treated as a category one violator. The specific example that I am thinking of is that an argument has been advanced that say the current deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, need not necessarily be regarded as a category one violator.
I must state here my rejection of that view. Most if not all of Saddam Hussein's decisions resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people have been unanimously approved by the sycophantic body of rubber stamps styling itself the Revolutionary Command Council.
Individuals such as Tariq Aziz and many others who have command responsibility were the agents through whom Saddam Hussein has executed his barbarous will. For their crimes against Iran and Kuwait, the ITA is legally obligated to prosecute these individuals. For the sake of justice they must be prosecuted as well for what they have done to Iraq.
I gather, a further example, that an army chief of staff at the time of Halabja has taken the position that he did not, in fact, have command responsibility, because the decision-making process bypassed him. If that is true, and then he can defend affirmatively on that basis, and if he can establish the defense, he presumably would be entitled to an acquittal.
I am also told that he has been defended on the basis that he helped reduce the number of casualties. Now, even if that is true, that defense does not exculpate the man. At best, it presents evidence in mitigation of sentence only. So if it is with all high-ranking officers, military and political, whenever weapons of mass destruction were used, whether on Iranians or Iraqis.
The second category of offenders on mid-level violators--this would include intelligence and military officers of somewhat lower rank, similarly situated party officials, judges, prosecutors and the like. Again, discretion will have to be exercised in determining who to prosecute and whom not to prosecute. At this level, the numbers begin to increase. Indeed, based on the severity of the crime, I would favor expanding this category to include even low level individuals.
Certainly, the soldier or officer who threw paper out of helicopters to test the wind currents prior to the gassing of Halabja must be prosecuted if he can be identified. The specialist in the Iraqi Air Force who may have loaded the bombs, which were then dropped on Halabja has both moral as well as legal culpability for those deaths.
I know that in Rwanda a decision was taken to limit such prosecutions. But the soldiers I have described belong in the same category as the executioners at Dachau. I cannot imagine a rational decision not to subject these individuals to the full processes of the law.
The third category, and the last which I would propose to subject to prosecutions, are for perpetrators of ordinary crimes under domestic law. They may be the local head of a police station, for instance, or a local party official who may have participated in a discrete act which falls under one or the other of the sections of the Iraqi criminal code. Prosecutions on that basis must go forward as well.
The fourth and final category is the need for de-Baathification. I am an advocate of total de-Baathification of government agencies on the model which Eisenhower imposed in post-war Germany. I recognize, however, that not all members of the Baath Party have joined the party for ideological reasons, although some have. Those who were active participants in the function of the party at a local, regional or national level must be subjected to lustration laws, barring them from every holding office again in Iraq.
Any individual who has held high rank in the Baath Party or in the Baath government from July 14, 1968 to the present ought to be barred for life from holding any office in Iraq.
A final point in respect to prosecutions: the ITA must abolish or declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Capital punishment has been abused with increasing frequency as each regime has succeeded its predecessor in Iraq. It ought to form no part of the future of Iraq.
As a general rule, I know that I take a relatively hard stand in respect to accountability. I must confess that Kanan Makiya had to take me out of an even harder position, which I intended to take here, that every single individual in Iraq as to whom a prima facie case could be made should be criminally prosecuted in a criminal court.
I have somewhat backed away from that position, something I shall discuss in a moment. Having said that, I am troubled by one aspect of my suggestion, and that is the potential that there might be some general somewhere in Iraq who is contemplating mutiny. His mutiny might mean savings hundreds or thousands or more lives. If the almighty is willing to accept a death bed conversion, I suppose I am hard-pressed to reject it. I am grudgingly prepared to accept the proposition that a high-ranking individual within Iraq now who materially aids--within Iraq now--who materially aids in deposing this regime might be free. My written text says should be free. But I just can't quite say that.
MR. ISTRABADI: Might be free from prosecution. The prohibition against future service in government must still apply to such an individual.
I'm very close to finishing. I hope I haven't--I'm sure I have gone over my time. Perhaps the most difficult problem to solve for Iraq is what has been termed truth and reconciliation.
The magnitude of the crimes committed in Iraq over 34 years are staggering. Nearly 30 years after his death, we still recall that Steven Biko died under torture in a South African prison. We cannot begin to list the hundreds of thousands who have died under torture in a Baathist jail. Nor is there likely to be the calming hand of an Iraqi Nelson Mandella, nor the wise compassion of a Bishop Tutu.
In more optimistic moments, I allow myself to hope that such individuals exist, but we simply do not know their names. Regardless, truth and reconciliation will be indispensable for reuniting Iraq and Iraqis.
Truth, of course, is an essential component of accountability as well. The truth must be brought to the light not only for the sake of society holding individuals accountable for their misconduct, but also to allow those individuals to take responsibility for what they have done. To that end, there is no substitute for a truth commission. The very concept itself will be a breath of fresh air in Iraq, a very closed society with many taboo subjects, where the most obvious truth known by all must nonetheless be publicly denied.
The names of informers must be released to the public as a part of this process. The records of intelligence agencies must be made public. Financial records showing those who have done business with Saddam Hussein and his family must be disclosed.
On the South African model, hearings ought to be held by a truth commission to compel individuals to appear to take responsibility for what they have done.
Now, whereas the goal of the truth commission in South Africa, as I understand it, was to lead to amnesty, I categorically reject the very concept of amnesty in Iraq. I'm sorry. I cannot. I just couldn't come up here and say I--I just couldn't convince myself.
But amnesty itself I categorically reject, and I'll return to that in a moment as well. In Chile, where Augusto Pinochet still has a relatively wide following, no amnesty process--and that's another mistake in my written text--no amnesty process was engendered at the time of Pinochet's leaving office. He simply announced that he was going to be immune as a senator and attempted an amnesty on those who had committed crimes within a certain period of time.
In Argentina, very little if any attempt at accountability has been pursued, and this has led to tremendous resentment on the part of this population.
The course I propose is an intermediate one between any form of generalized amnesty and prosecuting every individual indictable for any political crime. That middle course is an announcement of a nolle prosequi as to any individual who makes a full disclosure and accepts full responsibility for his conduct. And when I say any individual, I don't really mean that. I'll come back to that in a minute.
Nolle prosequi is a device which is the precise opposite of the defense plea of nolle contendere, or no contest. In the latter case, the defendant announces that he will not fight the charge, although he does not concede guilt. In nolle prosequi, the prosecution announces that it will not pursue the prosecution of the case. It is not an admission of insufficient evidence nor a statement in the belief of the innocence of the defendant. It is simply a statement that no further proceedings will occur against the defendant.
Now, the distinction between that and an amnesty may appear to be one without a difference, but I don't think so. An amnesty implies forgiveness, perhaps absolution. I am unprepared to allow Saddam Hussein's henchmen to luxuriate in forgiveness. If they accept full responsibility for their acts and are not sufficiently high ranking in Saddam's bureaucracy, to be left alone is the most that these people can hope for. I would make this process available only to people in categories three and four.
I will not belabor the point of the tension between accountability, on the one hand, and truth and reconciliation on the other. At least insofar as the reconciliation aspect is concerned, I recognize that there is a real value in calming outrage and ameliorating the desire for revenge.
I recognize that protracted or prolonged prosecutions and public trials, likely as they are to garner tremendous media attention, have the potential for fanning the flames of outrage. The need for accountability, however, the need for justice, act as a counterweight to considerations of peace and harmony. I'm not actually true that's true, that it's a counterweight. I'm not so sure that you can get to peace and harmony without that accountability. I don't believe you can. I simply put my thumb on the scale of the side of accountability, at least for the interim period.
During the period of the ITA, particularly, the balance likely needs to be struck in favor of justice rather than immediate reconciliation. Once truly legitimate representative government is in place, decisions about amnesty, pardons, clemency, and the like can be made by the true representative of Iraq's population, its elected government.
I stated at the outset that I assumed that the transition in Iraq will be a transition to democracy and the rule of law. If policymakers in Washington, and I am troubled by their absence, deliberate absence evidently, if policymakers in Washington are planning anything else, then we in the United States are planning a second betrayal of the Iraqi people in 11 years.
Before hostilities commence once again in Iraq, assuming that they do, and while I know that there are government officials sitting in this room, I want to take this opportunity of concluding my remarks by saying the following:
Much of the success or failure of the topics about which we are talking now--democracy, the rule of law, transitional justice--will depend on the manner and method in which the regime of Saddam Hussein is toppled. If the United States and its allies, if any, once again target the civilian infrastructure of Iraq in the gross terms which were done in 1991, then the population of Iraq will see us as their enemies, and we will earn their hatred.
The topics we discussed today and which are likely to be discussed in future AEI seminars will be academic. Only if our military planners narrowly target only the terror infrastructure keeping Saddam Hussein in power are we likely to win the sympathy of the Iraqi people. Only under those circumstances will the population of Iraq cooperate with and endorse our effort to restore Iraq not only into the family of nations as such, but to transform it into a modern Western-oriented democratic country.
MR. GERECHT: Thank you, Mr. Istrabadi. We'll just work around the panel starting with Hania Mufti, and I just say once again, please try to keep it to around five minutes. Thank you very much.
MS. MUFTI: I'll do my best. And what I have to say, in fact, is very much an endorsement of what my co-panelist has said and perhaps just taking a slightly different tact on some of the things that can be done before any changes take place in Iraq in terms of preparatory work.
I could start briefly by saying that having been in the business of investigating human rights abuses in Iraq for more than two decades, I can say with some authority that we do have sufficient evidence to hold the Iraqi government accountable for the most serious crimes under international law.
And as many of you know, part of that evidence comes from the horse's mouth in the form of the documents that became available after the '91 uprising, and many of you will also be familiar with the work that Human Rights Watch has done in terms of documenting the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988. Unfortunately, although we did try to bring a criminal prosecution and then a civil suit against Iraq, we failed, and at the time it was because the brutality of the Iraqi government was being shielded by the hypocrisy of the international community.
And we hope that the world is listening now, because the crimes continue unabated. Last week I returned from Iraqi Kurdishstan as part of a human rights delegation which was there to document continuing ethnic cleansing against the Kurds and the Turkoman. And more than 120,000 people have been expelled from their homes since 1991 and Arab families brought in their place.
And yet at the same time for people who believe in human rights, it's crucial to safeguard the rights of those suspected of having committed these crimes in Iraq as well as to ensure justice for the countless victims of Saddam Hussein's government. Human Rights Watch believes that the best option for that remains Security Council action to establish an international criminal court for Iraq that would have jurisdiction over past crimes and would ensure a fair, impartial and timely trial for all those concerned.
And, of course, I agree with my colleague that such a court would not only punish those responsible for the atrocities, but would also serve as a deterrent to future abuse, and it would help also to combat the culture of impunity that has existed for so long in Iraq.
The option of establishing a court that combines international and domestic mechanisms and laws could also be considered and was touched upon by my co-panelist. Its effectiveness, though, is dependent on the complete dismantling and rebuilding of Iraq's judicial system, its de-Baathification as well, and on ensuring that there is a future judiciary that is independent and partial and free from political manipulation.
Our efforts at seeking to indict numbers of Saddam Hussein's government and other officials must continue regardless of any U.S.-led military intervention against Iraq. But in the interim, there are certain measures that can be taken to establish principles of international human rights and accountability and ensure that these are incorporated in security and governance arrangements for Iraq.
I'd like to highlight several of these. First, persons responsible for the most serious abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law must not be included in the new government for Iraq. And discussion on how to implement these must begin now at the earliest stages of planning for a post-Saddam government. And here I am referring not only to officials currently in positions of authority in Iraq, but also to former military or intelligence personnel who have fled the country to join opposition forces abroad in the hope that this would buy them immunity from prosecution.
And unfortunately, there are those within the U.S. administration that have encouraged this hope. These individuals who may be implicated in crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes, other crimes of universal jurisdiction, must not only be sidelined, they must be held responsible for their crimes. And documenting and bringing to light such information is an integral part of Human Rights Watch's work, and one that we take very serious, for experience shows that past abusers who return to power often repeat their abuse.
Second, there must be no amnesties from prosecutions for persons who have committed grave violations of these international and human rights law. Amnesty arrangements, while often seemingly expedient in peace building, ultimately maintain a damaging culture of impunity.
Third, we urge the creation of international monitoring capacity which can be deployed as soon as possible and wherever feasible in Iraq to investigate past abuses and to monitor continuing violations. And valuable lessons can be drawn from other international missions which I won't mention here for lack of time.
Fourth, any plan for a future government of Iraq should contain measures specifically aimed at the issue of future military and police forces. And that persons who have been implicated in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law should be disarmed and prohibited from joining the new armed forces and the civilian police. And again, this is imperative to prevent a continuing culture of abuse.
Lastly, it is also imperative to ensure that future international assistance include financial and other support for institutions involved in the administration of justice at all levels, and where required international experts, penal experts and human rights specialists, as well as civilian police must be made available in sufficient numbers to strengthen the rule of law at various institutions.
I will conclude by saying that ensuring accountability for the horrific crimes and other abuses that have been the hallmark of governance under the ruling Baath Party is of paramount importance if Iraqis are to have a future based on respect for human rights. There is indeed a dire need to revitalize belief in the rule of law in a society that has lost total confidence. Thank you.
MR. AL FADHAL: [Interpreted from Arabic.] Ladies and gentlemen, I am very honored to be present here from Sweden, the land of peace and snow, here in the United States of America.
The people of Iraq hope that the winds of freedom and peace will influence the new Iraq. But the future of Iraq, the new Iraq, will not be realized without help from the friends of Iraq in the United States of America.
The point of discussion will focus on two important matters, which are that accountability of the responsibles in Iraq and the rebuilding of the infrastructure of Iraq.
With regard to the prosecution of the accountable responsibles for Iraq, there should be the implementation of an Iraqi judiciary body to prosecute the responsibles for the destruction of Iraq.
We had to limit the accountability to one particular period and that is what occurred between 1968 to today. That in addition to instituting the law of reconciliation and forgiveness, especially for certain crimes--especially with regards to regular crimes rather than international crimes.
The second point which regards the reconstruction of the state of Iraq on the following premises: the federalism and the rights of the Kurdish people to decide their own destination; the declaration of neutrality and normalization of relations with the state of Israel; respect of the human rights and the rule of law; the construction of the civil rule of law and the consideration of the Baath Party as similar to the Nazi Party; the freedom of women, the Iraqi woman in the new society and the help of her participation in the new society.
The prosecution for the war crimes will be determined in three different points, and I will be very brief in describing the three different. First the Iraqi accused. There are many ideas as to how to prosecute the accountable. It is indeed very difficult to prosecute all the people that are accountable for having committed crimes against the Iraqi people.
We must focus and concentrate on the very severe crimes solely. With regard to regular crimes, they should be deferred to a regular prosecution. With regard to gathering of evidence, we must distinguish between the crimes that were committed--interior crimes and the exterior crimes.
With regard to the interior war crimes, we'll focus on the war crimes that took place in Halabja and the experimentation with chemical weapons against the Kurdish people. Also, in the south of Iraq where the flag, the motto noshia [ph] after today was implemented.
With regard to the exterior war crimes, we will limit that to the war with Iraq--with Iran--eight years, the invasion and the occupation of country of Kuwait, the targeting of civilian population in Israel with 39 missiles, and support of the international terrorism.
I'm able to brief all my, what I have to say into one word. Because of time constraints, I'm very aware of that. I say we wait for the new Iraq built on the rule of law. And I am confident that when the law, the ruling, the dictatorial ruling ends, the rule of law will begin. And I would end my discussion with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln's in a 1863 speech that concerns the Iraq of the future:
"A government from the people, chosen by the people, for the people, shall not be abolished from the face of the earth."
Thank you very much.
MS. WEDGWOOD: Let me just, I guess, conclude as the wrap-up commentator by making a few remarks. One, just a remark about Saddam's cynicism about the law. For someone who was planning on being so wicked, he has certainly chosen to remain in a great many treaty regimes that may redound to his detriment.
As has been remarked, Iraq is still a member of the 1949 Geneva Conventions which limit what you can do to prisoners of war. For example, you have to repatriate them at the end of the conflict and also sets limits on what you can to civilians in occupied territories.
Iraq jointed the Genocide Convention in 1953 and has not exited. Iraq joined the Geneva Protocol on Asphyxiating Gases and Bacteriological Weapons in 1931 and has not exited. And I think the most amusing remark is that Iraq joined the Biological Weapons Convention in 1991 back when it was protesting that it was going to be good in the future.
So it's a little hard for Saddam to simply say these norms are not my norms. They have been persistent in Iraq. But more to the point, even if there were no treaty law as such, in international law, even in international criminal law, there is this category called customary law, the laws and customs of war used in the Rwanda Tribunal, used in the Yugoslavia Tribunal, what every honorable soldier knows, that he is bound by certain norms of conduct that will spare civilians, avoid disproportionate harm to civilians, avoid systematic torture, certainly avoid genocide, avoid crimes against humanity.
Also, the norms that govern international crimes have extended from wartime to non-martial situations. So that even at moments when Iraq might not be technically at war, the gross mistreatment of its own population can be considered a crime against humanity, and it's the almost universal consensus of international lawyers that the prohibition against crimes against humanity has passed into customary law.
So the issue is not really where the law comes from. It's a harder choice what kind of tribunal to use. What the U.S. has supported in the past has been the idea of Security Council authority to create an ad hoc tribunal. If you do that, you may get into some of the same quarrels and politics that you often do when you're looking for a Chapter 7 resolution to bless your intervention in the first place. So you're exposing yourself to some political pressure if you commit yourself to that as the only modality.
The second way the U.S. has proceeded lately is with the idea of a mixed tribunal, of having local judges, local actors take part as prosecutors and judges, along with international. That has some advantages. It may avoid the kind of distant auteur, the distant multilateral colonial atmosphere that has sometimes surrounded the Yugoslav Tribunal, and brings the trial home where it can be didactically of the most use. And yet provides some international voice which will perhaps give some kind of gyroscopic assurance that the tribunal couldn't be misused for revenge or for political factionalism.
The old-fashioned way, though, of enforcing the law of war was in military tribunals. Whoever conquered the battlefield then had the duty, as well as the right, of putting his adversary on trial for any kind of systematic malefactions, and indeed if there were no--one could use several modalities at once.
The more impish impulse which is not consistent with current American policy would be to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court. But under Security Council resolution that might or might not seem attractive, depending at what time we establish a new democratic regime in Iraq.
And finally, of course, using local courts. I will note that in Bosnia, there was a concern that since factionalism was still rife, that even using local courts was wisely limited by--this is the first Rome Treaty, 1996--that local prosecutions should be approved by an international body of some sort just to avoid the use of war crimes accusations as brickbats because we have learned from the Bosnian experience that human nature is human nature, and whenever there's an available kind of weapon, people can misuse it because of jealousy, business rivalries, a host of reasons. So that kind of mixture of international and national can be productive.
There was a bill introduced in the House of Representatives this morning, I understand, that we should indict in lieu of invading. I don't think that is necessarily very helpful. Most folks in the international community don't believe in trials in absentia, so simply having a hanging indictment doesn't do too much. I think Saddam has certainly delegitimatized himself sufficiently. It doesn't need a formal enunciation of charges.
However, I think the action in the House International Relations Committee does remind us that the legitimacy and legality usually end up being complicatedly intertwined. The CD read only version of how you do international law is not the way it really works out in practice. And insofar as the intervention would have some aspects of Kosovo, that it might be, by the way, also a humanitarian intervention, might not please classical European lawyers, but I think over time would come to seem an additional legitimating basis for the discrete use of force.
I think we should learn very carefully from our earlier attempts in Bosnia, for example. Do not take indictment and trials as a substitute for a careful lustration process. One of the problems in Bosnia was that the Americans won the argument that no one who is indicted should serve in government.
I take it some European countries in the OSCE have insisted on the obverse, that if you're not indicted, you do serve in government. And that's been a real problem. So I do think a careful lustration process will be needed, all the more because war crimes trials have, in practice, taken much longer than we ever counted on.
These trials take at least a year each. If you want to make an exemplary process so it's the center of a new democratic culture, then you want the process to be admirable. You don't want it to be the two hour defense counsel need not attend version that the Tutsi government has on occasion used.
So I do think we have to, while one can have a spiritual commitment to universal justice, in practice, you have to be selective and careful about which folks you choose to target.
I also do agree with the point that you will need to use the law in politic way in the most moral sense. That is you do want defections by contingents who may not have always been the most charming in their prior battlefield behavior, and the desire to limit civilian casualties is going to be in competition with the desire for universal justice. Because you do want core commanders to understand that they at least have a damn good shot at getting off if they will defect in a discrete way. If they fight house to house in Baghdad, it will hurt the credibility of any new regime as well as of the international community. So I think you're just going to have, one's going to have to grit one's teeth and be satisfied, as we have in every other war, with a set of trials that are exemplary, but are not exhaustive. Lustration and ultimately a truth commission have to substitute for a kind of house to house justice.
I also think frankly we'll want some intelligence cooperation for counterterrorism. Very carefully who you do it with and what you promise. You don't want Unit 731 in Japan to be replicated where we gave complete amnesty to everybody involved in Japanese biological weaponry but at the same time it's going to be important for the region, I think, that whatever can be obtained from Baathist officials about other actors who are still at large be harvested, if only to save other innocent civilians from a painful death.
On immunity, this I think is the least of your problems. Immunities often belong to the governments instead of individuals. You can distinguish between immunities of the person versus immunity of the underlying act, and immunities of the person lapse when you leave office. So I think good and persuasive lawyering can probably get around immunities that were created in a dictatorial regime.
The final observation I'd make is just from the Slobo trial that's ongoing, 24/7 Slobo TV, in Belgrade, that I don't think--I think, sir, politics have moved on despite the equivocal results in the election, but you do have to be careful to design a trial process that is fair by our modern lives, and that means going beyond Nuremberg, because whenever we teach Nuremberg, in law school classes, we say, my gosh, do you realize how summary our procedure was, even though this is our historical ideal.
And yet you don't want the trial to be taken over by an attempt to rally political zeal, as Slobo, has attempted to do in The Hague, where he said so is your mother, I did stuff, but so did the KLA and so did NATO. That kind of extremely elongated propagandistic exercise is not what a trial should be about. So I think you have to be careful to have a trial procedure that clearly finds the facts carefully, but still is does not allow the defendant to take over the proceeding.
Finally, I just would have a lesson from World War II. I do think there is often a temptation among prosecutors to use the idea of command responsibility as a shortcut, and for those of you who haven't had this stuff in law school, command responsibility has two very different ideas.
One is that you ordered something to happen. The other is that you're still liable because you failed to prevent something from happening, a kind of criminal negligence, a criminal abstention, and we used the latter theory in the trial of General Yamashita in World War II, at the conclusion of the war in the Philippines. It's less, I think it's less didactically satisfactory. You mean want to establish indeed that Saddam did order these things, which you can do either by having nice e-mail in air-tell orders or simply by the pattern and practice of his government, but we don't want these to be tort trials about negligence. We want them to be about the quite clear direct desire and implementation of systematic abuses from the top.
And if you have any hope for deterrence, I think you need to have that kind of moral keystone to the lesson of the trials. So I think I would counsel a worldly wisdom in this. There are many competing goods, worrying about local credibility, worrying in a Mozambican sense of how to reintegrate Baathist Party members into productive lives.
There are going to be a lot of folks. You can't fall prey to the Stalzi problem where you discover everybody has been an informer. I mean there really has to be a sense that you both are warning for the future, but at the same time exiling people to a permanent opposition to a new regime, and that I think is the lesson of both Germany and the other more modern attempts at reconstructing a democracy through war crimes trials.
MR. GERECHT: I'd like to thank the panel. Now, I'm going to open it up for questions and answers.
MR. GERECHT: And I'm going to unfortunately have to abbreviate this session, because of nutritional concerns. So I will try to take as many questions as possible, and I will try to use peripheral vision so I don't lose anybody. So questions? If you wish to identify yourself, go ahead. If you don't want to, that's okay, too.
MR. SERWER: Daniel Serwer from the U.S. Institute of Peace. You were very clear that the constitution of 1925 should apply. I wonder to what extent there's consensus on that subject among both Iraqis outside the country and those who live in the North free from Saddam control?
The other question I had was apart from the constitution was a question of applicable law. And I wonder if you could--this question has bedeviled some past interventions and caused enormous delays in Kosovo in particular. Could you comment on where you see the law coming from in the immediate aftermath of an intervention?
MR. GERECHT: Is that to one particular or--
MR. SERWER: I think Mr. Istrabadi. Well, anybody who wants to comment, but I was reacting to--
MR. ISTRABADI: There is, you know, what I'm not trying to do by arguing about the constitution back in '25, and I don't know if this is what your concern is or not, but I'm not arguing that therefore the monarchy must be restored. That's not the point. Obviously, July 14, 1958 occurred. I mean it has consequences. But the extent to which that I think that legally it is at least the only constitution that has legitimacy is insofar as it has, in fact, been voted upon, and accepted, and duly promulgated in Iraq as a source of law and as containing, you know, obligations on the part or limitations on the activity of government.
For instance, it mandates due processes for trials and so on. Of course, so does the constitution of 1970, but nonetheless, it seems to me that the transitional authority will have to have some sort of basic law, organic law, under which it operates. And that the suggestion has been made by one of my colleagues who is, in fact, sitting in this room, that it is possible to use that constitution of 1925, sort of tacis motandies [ph] wherever we refer to the kingdom of Iraq or the government of the kingdom of Iraq to be transitional authority, and make that sort of the source of law.
And I think that there is an appeal to me in that argument, and that it's not going to be a free-for-all.
As far as consensus is concerned, I guess the answer to that is I don't know what the answer is. I don't know if there is much consensus on that point. It's been discussed in the various working groups to which I belong. I've not heard at least in those working groups, the Future of Iraq Project, where the Kurds are represented, I have not heard any opposition to the idea.
Have I heard a ringing endorsement of it? No. But it at least forms the basis of the law. The applicable law question is very interesting one because I mean, you know, there are laws against let's say rape or whatever, that have been passed by the Baathist government, which sound--I mean if you read the 1990 constitution, it sounds like a reasonable constitution mostly.
And so there are reasonable laws, but you know you get into questions of legitimacy and so on, and there are different views on that as well. You can, for instance, have a transitional authority which issues a law or issues a decree or whatever proclamation that rescinds all say amendments to the criminal code from July 14, 1968 to the present.
That's sort of a sledgehammer approach that may sweep away some pretty good laws. For instance, there may be laws on--there's probably a law in Iraq on the privacy of e-mails that's probably a pretty good idea, and it would be nice if it were ever applied, and do you really want wipe that away. It's a very difficult problem and I'm pleased that I'm only a very small part of the group that's trying to assess the problem and come up with solutions.
MR. GERECHT: Thank you. A question over here.
MS. RAHIM FRANCKE: Rend Rahim Francke. This is a question to Ruth Wedgwood. You said very in passing something that intrigued me about humanitarian intervention. It's always been my view that intervention in Iraq should be presented as humanitarian intervention. I don't know if I understood you correctly, and I would like you to expand on that point. Thank you.
MS. WEDGWOOD: Well, again, when Kosovo came up as a matter of legal justification when the American Society of International Law was having its annual panel on whether what the U.S. had done lately was illegitimate or legitimate, you had a curious position where many international lawyers said glad they did it, but can't square it with the UN charter. Surprising people said that, which is an odd position for lawyers to take,
But I thought there was an alternative coherent argument that whether or not Article 51, for example, technically applied to the defense of a people against its parent government, that nonetheless the purposes of the UN Charter, its teleology, if you're European, were well served even if the kind of procedural perfectionism about how the Security Council should operate couldn't be observed, or kind of substitute multilateralism.
I mean here you have, much as you did in Kosovo, a multilateral diagnosis of the problem, weapons of mass destruction and widespread violations of human rights, even if the solution for it should ultimately be unilateral. And a wise politician who I will not name in town here once said to me--I think adroitly--that explain the problem and the law will follow, if the problem is so evidently in need of a solution.
I wouldn't front this as my only theory, but clearly the fact that the regime whose political imperium is being interfered with is utterly autocratic means that any claim that this violates Iraqi political independence is rather hollow.
MR. GERECHT: Thank you very much. Now, regrettably, I'm going to have to cut it here. However, Danni Pletka is going to make two very important announcements, so just hold on a few minutes.
MS. PLETKA: Two things. The first is about lunch, which is very important. Lunch is ready and has been for a little while, so it's probably really warm, and it can be approached either way, going that way or going this way. And in addition, we wanted to tell everybody, and I know we've lost some of our people, that we just received a very nice phone call from a senior White House official who explained to us that they would like to come and talk about these issues, and although we think that today perhaps it's a little late to do that, we've invited them to come as soon as it's convenient, and they've committed to send a senior Bush Administration official to come and talk about Iraq post-Saddam. So we're very happy about that, and we'll announce it again, and bon appetit. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 1:05 p.m., the conference recessed, to reconvene at 2:15 p.m., this same day.]
A F T E R N O O N S E S S I O N
MS. PLETKA: Everybody, could we start please? Thank you. Thank you very much. We'd like to welcome you to our third panel on oil and the Iraqi economy. Presenting today is Patrick Clawson, the Deputy Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. He was among many other things a research economist at the IMF.
Next to him, or I guess I'm going in alphabetical order now, we're also very lucky to have Ibrahim Alolom with us. Mr. Alolom is a senior petroleum engineer at Duke Engineering and Services in the United Kingdom. He's also the Director of Relief International UK, an Iraq-directed humanitarian non-governmental organization.
Sinan Al-Shabibi is a consultant on trade and finance and was previously a senior consultant to UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and he was in addition an official in the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and in the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.
Finally, we welcome Rob Sobhani. Rob is the President of Caspian Energy Consulting and an adjunct professor of government at Georgetown.
Thank you all very much.
MR. CLAWSON: The most important point to make about oil and the Iraqi economy is that these are not the issues which are driving U.S. policy towards Iraq. U.S. policy towards Iraq is first and foremost concerned with issues about weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorism, threats against neighboring states. Oil has barely been on the administration's horizon in thinking about Iraq.
Look at the paucity of statements about oil coming out of the administration, or more generally look at the low priority which Washington has assigned to energy security issues in its overall policy considerations over the last decade.
Energy issues in the United States in the last decade have been debated primarily in terms of their impact on environmental matters, whether it's the drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, whether it's the corporate average fuel efficiency, or CAFE, standards for automobiles, whether it's the Kyoto Treaty. The issues of energy which have been so burning for the United States government over the last decade have not been questions about international supply.
Indeed, in the last ten years, international oil companies have complained frequently and loudly that Washington has taken decisions which hurt their business interests, such as the unilateral tough U.S. sanctions on countries like Iran and Libya.
And if you want to understand just how much Washington shapes its policy, having in mind the interest of international oil companies, consider the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which is renewed by Congress by an overwhelming vote--I believe there were six senators who opposed it--despite substantial lobbying by the international oil companies against it.
So while it may be fashionable in anti-American circles such as those in American University campuses to assume that Washington's policy is being driven by the concerns of American oil companies, I would say that there is extraordinarily little evidence that that has been the case.
And, indeed, I would argue that American oil companies are not particularly interested in seeing the United States overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. There is this 19th century vision, which is often held by left wing conspiracy theorists, who sort of assume that the only place that American oil companies will be able to make a profit is where the American troops are present.
And, in fact, international oil companies are much more interested in seeing the oil business be de-politicized and seeing investment decisions in the oil business be made on the basis of commercial considerations and not politics. Their objections have been to the politicization of this business. Their objection is to these repeated sanctions in the United States or from efforts regarding the oil investments in Sudan to bring human rights considerations to bear.
So American oil companies are not out there champing at the bit trying to figure out how can we get the troops into Iraq. Quite the contrary. Indeed, by the way, I have been speaking about American oil companies. That's not a good idea. What we have is international oil companies now. Almost every major oil field development is done these days by a consortia that involves oil companies from several different countries.
And it's worth noting that the international oil business is not particularly dominated by American companies. Of the six largest producers in the world, only two are American. The largest oil company producer in the United States is British Petroleum. This is a terribly internationalized business, and the idea that there is some tight connection between the oil barons of Texas and the Bush administration that's driving Iraq policy is complete fantasy.
Indeed, oil is one of the reasons the West is concerned about Iraq, but the reason is indirect. The reason is that oil income provides Iraq with the revenue with which it can engage in some programs like its construction of weapons of mass destruction that we find so troubling.
But let me pass on to the question of what impact a war with Iraq would have on oil and more generally on the world economy, and there again I'm afraid I have to differ with much of the opinion, many of the opinions that we've heard expressed from circles so concerned about the horrible potential impact of a war with Iraq.
In fact, I find it very hard to come up with any plausible scenario under which an Iraq war would cause disruptions to the world economy. The simple fact is that the world has adapted well to swings in world oil prices. Gone are the days when changes in world oil prices sent tremors through the financial and industrial world.
Consider in 1997 the price of oil, technically the spot price for Dubai crude, so in 1997 it's $18.13 a barrel. The next year, 1998, it's $12.16. It's fallen 50 percent in one year. Two years after that, it's gone up from $12 to $26.24, an increase of 115 percent.
Now, pardon me, but I must have missed the profound international recession caused by that increase of 50 percent in world oil prices, and so too I must have missed the dramatic economic boom that took place--excuse me--I missed the drop that took place at 50 percent, the boom then, and the recession when the price doubled from 1998 to 2000. Some of us might even think the period from 1998 to 2000 was a reasonably prosperous one for the world economy, in spite of a doubling of world oil prices.
The world economy has become much more flexible than 30 years ago, and much more open to market forces and so changes in oil prices simply do not have the kind of impact that they had back in 1974.
There are several powerful forces at work, which would limit the impact of a war with Iraq on oil prices even in the short term. Let me just cite a few of those powerful factors.
First is that Iraq has become a negligible player in world energy supplies. Even with a bounce back in the last couple of weeks from extraordinary levels in previous months, Iraq is still producing less than 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, which is about three percent of world output. That simply is not necessarily a major force in the world oil markets, especially since oil markets have become used to volatility from Iraqi supplies and quite adjusted to that.
Second, world supply conditions are becoming quite ample at the moment. Non-OPEC supply is likely to increase by a million barrels a day in the fourth quarter this year compared to the third quarter, and OPEC producers have excess capacity of at least four million barrels a day, which they could bring on-stream if necessary.
So there's ample opportunity to replace Iraqi oil. In addition, there is the question of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve here in the United States. There is now relatively broad political consensus that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should be used to combat politically motivated increases in oil prices or oil price increases that are caused by extraordinary political events such as might happen with the war with Iraq.
And indeed, in the year 2000, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was last used. Technically, what was done was a swap of 30 million barrels of oil that were provided to oil companies in 2000 when the Clinton Administration thought the price of oil was artificially high so long as the oil companies promised to return a larger amount of oil at a future date. And such an arrangement could be used this time as well if it looked like the price were starting to rise.
And then finally let me just note that there is remarkably little potential that an Iraq war would disrupt supplies from producers other than Iraq. There simply are no credible military scenarios under which Iraq could disrupt production in Arabian Peninsula countries and it is utter fantasy to think that the masses in Saudi Arabia are going to rise in revolt if there is a war in Iraq.
First off, the Saudi government, thank you, is very good at making sure that the Saudi masses do not rise in revolt, and second, there is very little indication that this issue is one that moves ordinary people in the oil-producing countries to that extent.
Let me pass on to perhaps the more interesting question of the post-Saddam period, and in the post-Saddam period, Iraq has the potential to become a major oil producer. Its oil reserves are the second largest after Saudi Arabia. There is much potential to explore the country and find additional reserves.
From a technical point of view, it will be quite possible for Iraq to increase output from the present 2.5 million barrels a day to 4.5 million barrels a day within less than three years, on the way up to six million barrels a day within five to seven years, and eight million barrels a day within eight to ten years. Iraq has ample reserves to sustain that.
But that's the technical point of view, and the question of how much oil Iraq produces is not primarily a technical question. The principal question is what kind of relationship will Iraq have with the international oil companies? And this is going to be a politically delicate issue, because there will be many in Iraq who will want to tear up the existing contracts signed by the Iraqi government, the Saddam government, with the Russians, the French and the Chinese oil firms, for investments that could begin once U.S. sanctions have lifted, and that's going to be a complicated decision-making process in Iraq.
Plus there's going to be many in the Iraqi oil industry who are going to argue that Iraqi oil engineers are quite capable, thank you, of doing these investment projects themselves, and what they need from abroad is equipment and some money and not necessarily the investments in international oil companies.
Now, these are going to be delicate political issues to be resolved, and I would counsel that these decisions should be made by the Iraqis themselves. The debates about how to structure the Iraqi oil industry are going to be among the most important for Iraq's future, and it will be tempting for friends of Iraq like United States government to weigh in forcibly with their opinion. I think that would be a mistake, because this issue of the relationships with international oil companies is an extraordinarily sensitive issue for national sentiments throughout the Middle East and most especially in Iraq.
And so I think we should step aside and let the Iraqis decide on their own even if they make what from our point of view is a rather peculiar decision.
And indeed, let me use that to segue into what would be my main comment about Iraq's economic potential post-Saddam, and that is that essentially how well Iraq's economy does after Saddam is going to depend upon the kind of economic policies that Iraq adopts, that Iraq is extremely well endowed with resources. It's extremely well endowed with human resources. It's got a very educated population and the universities in Iraq are still probably as good as those in any other Arab country in spite of the deterioration under Saddam.
And Iraq is very well endowed with natural resources, in oil, but water as well. It's got the most water per capita of any country in the Middle East by far and should have a basis for an excellent agricultural policy.
But it is not resources, it is policies which are the principal determinant to economic growth around the world, and here the Iraqi record, I'm afraid, has been one of underachievement for decades. In the early 1950s, the World Bank sent a mission to Iraq which did a very interesting and very detailed report, full of recommendations, extremely few of which were implemented in the next 20 years.
And that fits in a pattern that we've seen in Iraq over many decades, and that is proud nationalist refusal to work with international companies. Oil is discovered in Iraq in 1927, but production does not really begin until after World War II, because of a stubborn confrontation about a well-to-do miner concessions that Iraq was demanding from the foreign license holder.
And similarly, Iraq got into a major dispute with the Iraq Petroleum Corporation, the foreign company, about the development of an important oil field which was discovered in the late 1950s, and which still had not really been developed at the time of the invasion of Kuwait.
And so the current 12-year dispute with the West since 1990 is really the third episode in the last 70 years in which Iraq has gotten into a major confrontation for nationalist political reasons that got in the way of lucrative oil development, and in each of those three cases, Iraq blames the West for being obstructionist.
This does not augur well for the future. Indeed, it is discouraging to realize that many of the problems of the Iraqi economy such as the heavy hand of the state on the economy predate Saddam. Indeed, they predate the Baath Party taking power in 1968.
These problems, to be sure, have gotten worse under Saddam and under the Baath Party. I am particularly amazed at the ability of the Baath Party to take a country which exported food for 3,000 years and make it into a country which has to import 70 percent of its calories, and that figure, by the way, the 70 percent imports, is from 1989, before the current difficulties.
Now, post-Saddam, it's going to be very tempting for Washington, be in the U.S. government in Washington or the international institutions I used to work for, the IMF and the World Bank, it would be very tempting for them to rush forward with advice to open up the economy to allow more room for market forces and to facilitate international investment from trade, and indeed I think those would be the best policies for Iraq's economy.
But my advice would be let the Iraqis decide their own future even if the decisions they make are not particularly wise ones.
Finally, let me close with a note about debt and war compensation payments. Iraq has a simply unsustainable burden of debt and war compensation payments. Including the debts to Arab countries which Iraq thought would be forgiven and including the interest which hasn't been paid in 12 years, Iraq's foreign debt could be easily over $100 billion. And Iraq owes compensation payments which it's obliged to pay under UN resolutions, Security Council resolutions.
The remaining claims--they paid out about $15.5 billion so far. The two big remaining claims are from the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti oil company. Now, those two have claimed that they're owed $160 billion. The UN Commission has not adjudicated that claim yet, and they will probably reduce the amount considerably, but anyway it's certainly the case that between the foreign debt and compensation, Iraq owes a sum which is well in excess of what Iraq can afford to pay.
And Iraq is inevitably going to have to join that long list of developing countries which paid off its debts at pennies on the dollar. And I think it would be fitting for the United States to announce now that in a post-Saddam environment, it would support a dramatic reduction of Iraq's debt and of its compensation obligations. I think that would be much more important for thinking about the future of Iraq's economy than some of the speculation about, oh, aren't we going to have to step up with providing foreign aid to Iraq? No. If Iraq is relieved of this clearly unsustainable debt and compensation burden, Iraq will be well positioned to pay its own way in the world.
And if Iraq adopts what I would regard as wise economic policies, it should become a prosperous nation which is able in less than a decade to recapture the higher incomes that it had before Saddam ravished the country.
MS. PLETKA: Why don't you guys just go ahead and do your commentary in the usual fashion. And I'll sit down again.
MR. SOBHANI: Well, thank you very much, AEI, for inviting me. Patrick's comments about oil prices reminded me of a question that was posed-- some of you probably have heard it before--of a U.S. diplomat as to what would have happened to the world had it been President Khrushchev who was assassinated into of President Kennedy. And his answer was I'm not sure what would happened to the world, but I do know that Mr. Khrushchev would not have married Jackie Onasis, Jackie Kennedy. So the uncertainty about the future aside, I think the foundation of any post-Saddam economy has to be the rule of law.
No capital investment will go into Iraq if there is not the rule of law. The first thing that needs to happen is to jump-start the legal regime in order for capital to flow into Iraq. That's the most important thing that can be done, and while I'm speaking, I also would like to emphasize that much of what we're talking here today, I think, should be on Radio Sawa and other media that are going into Iraq so that before the first shot is fired, we are having a dialogue with the people of Iraq as to what is important and that this campaign, I think personally, should go beyond weapons of mass destruction. It's about the liberation of a people who deserve a better future, and I think it's very important for Radio Sawa and the other outlets that are talking to the Iraqi people to start emphasizing this first.
I agree with Patrick, one of the first ways to jump-start the Iraqi economy, I'd go further and announce that Iraq simply does not have to pay any of those obligations or debts because those were obligations and debts incurred by Saddam Hussein, not the people of Iraq, and I think it's imperative for the Arab world, if they have any interest in the people of Iraq, to stand up and see we forgive those debts and obligations, because they were incurred by a dictator and not by the people of Iraq, and that's very important to jump-start the Iraqi economy.
Third factor--I'm going to get into oil because the discussion is about oil--but I think it's also important that a central role be given as Patrick mentioned to agriculture. In the 1960s, Iraq was a self-sufficient country in terms of agricultural production export, and they can be a potential exporter of agricultural good to their neighbors, and I think that Iraq should focus on agriculture in addition to focusing on oil, so that it doesn't become an oil economy.
A few broad figures on Iraq's oil today. Many have quoted the figure of 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, second to Saudi Arabia. To put it in context, we in the United States have 29 billion barrels of proven reserves. I think with the proper amount of investments in Iraq and more exploration, you're looking at double this figure of proven oil reserves. I think Iraq is probably close to, if not a little less, but close to Saudi Arabia in terms of proven oil reserves potentially.
In fact, I would venture to say that when the last barrel of oil leaves the Persian Gulf, it will say "Made in Iraq" and not "Made in Saudi Arabia."
That's in terms of its physical reserves. In terms of--and we're talking about oil, gas, natural gas could be another engine for Iraq in the post-Saddam environment. Iraq has roughly 109 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, easily could be double this current amount. And Iraq--and I'm going to get into this a little later--but gas, natural gas is also a factor in the future of Iraq and Iraqi economy.
Now, what can be done with this oil, with this resource? I think the model that could be used, should be used, should be talked about by Iraqi experts and once again by those who are talking to the Iraqi people are, for example, a production sharing agreement can very well be the model on which Iraqi oil industry is based.
It is a model that has been tested in the former Soviet Union in countries like Azerbaijan, and I think this is the key point. The Iraqi government after Saddam that offers attractive rates of return will attract the capital that's necessary from countries that are dragging their feet on attracting foreign oil companies. So if the Iraqi government after Saddam offers a rate of return on a sliding scale of let's say starting from 23 percent down to 20 percent, you will have immediately attracted the attention of some of the major players in the oil industry.
And I would disagree slightly with Patrick here. I think it is important that we emphasize the good work that American and European and other oil companies can do for the people of Iraq in the future. And this once again goes to the heart of U.S. policy. Before we fire the first shot, we need to educate the people inside as to what it means to sign a production sharing contract with the people of Iraq, because they will be the ultimate beneficiary of this contract.
The production sharing agreement, until Iraq develops petroleum laws, can be signed and ratified by a future Iraqi Parliament and have the rule of law within after the Parliament signs it. In other words, if it's going to take some time for Iraq to develop a petroleum law, in the meantime it can still sign production sharing agreements that have the rule of law imbedded in it after the Parliament agrees to it.
That's on the way forward, and to give you a concrete example, to give you a concrete example, a producing field in Iraq that has 300,000 barrels production per day with in-place reserves of, let's say, three billion barrels can demand a bonus from any foreign oil company that wanted to sign a production sharing agreement of a billion dollars.
You can jump-start the Iraqi economy by starting with identifying those fields that need work and auctioning off the highest bidder. And you can get very attractive offers from the international oil companies.
Natural gas. Iraq has I think three very significant options on natural gas, because of its abundance. One, it can explore with the help of the U.S. government. I think here the U.S. government should through a grant maybe to the Iraqi National Congress or some of my colleagues at this table to explore the opportunity of gas to liquids in Iraq. Iraq's abundant natural gas could be used for GTL projects, gas to liquid projects. I think LNG should be explored. There is a pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that exists from southern Iraq to the border of Syria. You extend that into Lebanon and you may be able to look into LNG process for Lebanon.
And the third and final option would be a pipeline carrying natural gas from Iraq through Turkey into Europe, and once again I'll end by emphasizing that all that has been discussed here today needs to be reflected through our public diplomacy to the people of Iraq. It's very important that we educate the people of Iraq as to the opportunity cost of Saddam and the opportunities that Iraq has through its oil and gas resources. Thank you.
MR. AL SHABIBI: Thank you very much. I'm really very glad to hear things about some kind of position regarding the debt and reparations, and the awareness that actually they are really a burden. We talked and lectured about that before, and I recall since about six or seven years, and we were always saying that even when the country is under sanctions, when sanctions are removed and you remain with debt and reparations, you'll have actually another source of deficit. The deficit will remain with you, and the deficit causes inflation.
Therefore, it is very important as a start to show that Iraq no problems is to have a package whereby sanctions are removed. I mean this is achievable, speaking about that before, and the relief from debt and reparation.
Well, just this is actually a point because I was really very glad that Mr. Sobhani and Mr. Clawson were calling actually for this, because I think now the thinking through on that, I think this is really very important, and it's important actually not only for Iraq, it is important for increasing the importing capacity of Iraq in the future.
And it is, in fact, you either pay the creditor his debt or probably increase your importing capacity in order to import it from the country of that creditor. So the question is, is that increasing this capacity will, of course, contribute very much to other countries.
Now having said that, I would tend to agree with all that's said also about other things. I will come to the question of foreign direct investment and these things. What we need actually to see what is needed in Iraq is actually within stages. I don't want, of course, to recall the problems in the past. We have some ideas, of course, about the economic reasons for removing the regime that are actually apart from political and human rights. I mean there are actually policies which actually necessitate that this regime is removed because of the wastage of resources.
But I just want to sum up. The regime actually had for Iraq an oil for militarization program, oil for weapons program. The UN gave us a program which is called "Oil for Food." The Iraqis never saw an oil for development program. This is actually I want, which means actually oil was wasted.
What Iraq needs is to start with, and as a priority, is to restore stability, macroeconomic stability. And then to maintain that stability. Afterwards actually it should resume growth on the basis of this stability. Iraq is like a sick man who is in a coma. I always bring this example. You cannot actually bring him to run before actually you stabilize him, you wake him up, and he sits and then he can run or walk. It depends on the speed of the growth.
So within this strategy, I want to actually to stress one point here. Where the international community comes, I said we have actually a first stage, which is actually, let us say, the short term, or the very short term, is to restore stability, which is really to lift the value of the dinar, because it is really now the source of inflation. And, of course, the problems of Iraq is basically related to inflation, all the social problems, all distribution problems relating to the distribution of income and wealth. People are selling everything because of inflation.
So actually lifting the value of the dinar, the exchange rate of the dinar, is the essence of this question. What is actually needed to be done in this? And here actually where for this first period, where probably the international community and the help from the international community is needed.
To attack the problem of inflation, you have international and regional dimension and domestic dimension. But I'm going to concentrate on the international and regional dimension because the question here in the short term, because of the fact there is no capacity for Iraq to produce or to trade. So the most important input, the most important input in this stage is actually resources.
Later on, policies are important. I mean, of course, there will be policies important also, but I mean it's a question of weight. So here actually what you need is resources, and where these resources come to. And this needs to be good resources.
First, actually there should be immediate release of Iraqi assets. Once the economy feels that there is infusion of resources, there will be an immediate positive effect on the value of the dinar, which we said actually is the objective of this phase. And this actually will help actually lift the value of the dinar.
I said the release of Iraqi assets. Secondly, the releasing of the unspent balances in the escrow account of the "Oil for Food." Then, Iraq to approach maximum oil export capacity. This is a question of negotiation with OPEC members. Stand still on payment of debt and reparation. At this stage you don't negotiate. You just say that these payments will have to be suspended.
Of course, I mean we know that debt, as Mr. Clawson was saying, debt is not being paid, but I'm talking here about standing still regarding the interest. Interest shouldn't be accumulating because interest will be part of the gross debt if we leave it like that.
Therefore, we don't want the debt to be accumulating during this period. And then, of course, substantial financial assistance. The question here is, of course--I mean the question of debt and reparation, obviously there will be a need to negotiate or to deal with this subject with the UN and with the creditors.
And in this case, of course, you need, of course, assistance of the most influential countries in the world and, of course, the international community. I mean even with the Bretton Woods institutions, if you need to address the question of debt--Mr. Clawson knows, of course --the question here, if you need to go to the Paris Club, you have to go through an IMF reform program, and then you need, of course, some support in this.
So, regarding this, therefore, there should be a commitment, as actually Mr. Clawson was saying, a commitment on the part of the international community to indicate to the Iraqis its goodwill that it's going to address this problem and to indicate that Iraq will get some help or technical assistance in order to attack these problems.
Therefore, this will be a signal to the economy and definitely, I mean obviously when there is a change, there will be a lift to the Iraqi dinar, but these additional measures will help, of course.
Then--one minute please--the question of foreign direct investment. Well, I completely agree. A country now afflicted with debt and reparation and shortage of resources, foreign direct investment, if the debt and reparation are not relieved, is going to be very important, definitely. But then it should be, of course, discussed and should be subject to the development strategy of the country.
The question here is, of course, it is very important that an investor, that the investor goes to the country if he sees that, of course, rule of law, but if he sees also a stable macroeconomic stability. So the country who wants to invest should also help Iraq in order for Iraq to attain macroeconomic stability, and the relief of debt and reparations will be very important.
So the two things are related. If you want to invest, you should help Iraq in order to actually get these things relieved. Otherwise, no investor will come to Iraq if he sees that the rate of exchange is very low on these things, and therefore this is very important.
The other point is that when we talk about development of Iraq, we talk about development of the non-oil sector. So we would like to encourage investment not only in the oil sector, but also in the non-oil sector, in agriculture, for example, joint projects and these things.
And, of course, all these things should, as I said, take development objective into account and the development objectives should be set not only by the government, and least by the government. It should be set in discussion with the private sector in the country, so that there will be joint projects and joint investments with the foreign companies.
MR. ALOLOM: Thank you. I'm happy to see some slight difference among the speakers when they're discussing the issue of Iraq and oil and the future. I try to bring, to put forward the following two questions, and from there I will take it.
The first question: does Iraq have the potential to become one of the top three countries exporting oil? The question, yes, especially on the short-term. I'm talking right now the first question regarding to the short term.
And the longer-term, the following question comes: does Iraq have the potential to become the leading country. Based on my experience and opinion, I say yes. And I take that yes to make another conclusion is Iraq may play a bigger part in the strategy of oil and Iraq become, could become a deciding factor in the balance of supply and demand.
But that big yes, there's another big if sitting beside it. If two conditions can be provided. First, political instability; second, access to the oil technology. To rebuild future Iraq, democratic Iraq, we need, well, on this point, I try to follow up on some point that was mentioned in the first session in the morning. I'm trying to suggest that in order to rebuild a strong democratic Iraq, probably we may need a UN multinational force to be present in Iraq at least for the four to five next years.
And the reason for that, the dual objective in this suggestion. The first one is sort of life insurance for continuing the social and political changes. Second, it's a great incentive for attracting the international oil companies.
Now, I would like to come to the point that Mr. Sobhani made. When it comes to the oil resource, I definitely agree with him. The figure that has been reported since 1992, that the proven reserve in Iraq is 112 billion. I think Iraq deserves figure higher than this. And the possible reserve is double that I think. If you consider only the south sector of Iraq and if you only look for the way that the oil discovery comes to the existence in 1970 till '80s, more than 60 oil discoveries in the south, and except maybe 30 to 40 of them have been developed during the '70s.
And we are not talking about the western Sahara. We are not talking about the potential of oil reserve at the depth. If you put all of these together, especially I'm saying the south, because really taking, the discovery is taking some exponential care, and oil expert, they may understand what I'm saying, exponential care.
If we're talking about the oil reserve and oil reserves, that is the other important point, I would like to bring it, and I agree with Patrick about it. That Iraq has the human reserves capable of running the oil industry. What we need is the technology, oil technology. We need the oil technology to repair and fix the developing oil fields.
We need the oil technology to develop the existing oil fields. We need oil technology for the new oil discoveries, and we need oil technology to install the service facilities. This comprehensive program cannot be achieved and can only be feasible through active participation of the international oil company, through deals that strike the right, that strike the right between the company profit and the Iraq interests.
I see the--thank you for that.
MS. PLETKA: We're going to take questions and we'll have a little while. I'm going to actually do the hideously rude thing and indulge myself by asking the first question. So I'm calling on myself.
I'd really be curious to hear an answer from any one of you who advocated the complete and total debt relief for Iraq, what effect do you think that would have on our efforts to build an international coalition, particularly given that a lot of those debts are to Russia and to France?
MR. CLAWSON: Well, the way these things have been done in some other circumstances is the debts, by the way, are almost entirely the governments. The debts to private companies were taken over by governments. So, for instance, a number of American companies, a number of American banks that made loans to the Iraqi government for the purchase of agricultural commodities, guaranteed, and those loans were guaranteed by the U.S. government. The U.S. government paid off those banks long ago.
So it's basically government to government debt we're talking about. And what you would do is you would convene a meeting of the Paris Club and let's say all the countries around the table would agree that-- some formula like this--we will agree half of Iraq's debt and we will encourage individual member countries to forgive more.
So that that way you could knock Iraq's debt back in one stroke from 100 billion to 50 billion, and then you could have a number of the major countries like the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, announce that they would then forgive the rest.
So then Iraq--then Russia would get back say half of what it's owed, and they like to cite the figure of $8 billion which actually I think was an underestimate. So they get back a fair chunk of money, but meanwhile the total amount that Iraq owes would be greatly reduced.
And as I say, I would stop the compensation payments after everyone has been paid other than the Kuwaiti oil company and the Kuwaiti government and just simply say those two payments are only going to be made at a very low level.
MS. PLETKA: Thank you. Mr. Shabibi.
MR. AL SHABIBI: Yes, I agree actually. The question, of course, Russia now has started to participate with the Paris Club, and, of course, Iraq being, of course, government to government debt, I mean it can, of course, deal with that there partly. But, of course, I mean there could be so bad deals because of the fact now there are some kind--I mean Russia was interested in having investments in Iraq and these things. Part of the revision of those deals, because I think they should be revised, is actually something of this sort now, is, of course, to offer some kind of deals to Russia and to another country in order some sort of debt equity swap or something like that.
I mean this can be thought of. I mean one cannot be detailed now, but I mean the question is there is a direction. I mean I just want to bring an example here. Some companies who actually made, submitted the claims to the compensation commission withdrew the claims because they were actually worried about their investment opportunities.
I mean the claims were very much less than--some of them were very much less than the debt. So it might as well just happen to debt also.
MS. PLETKA: Thank you. Thank you, all.
MR. LEWIS: One word on this point, if I may.
MS. PLETKA: Please and then let's go to questions.
MR. LEWIS: On this question of forgiving debts, yes, I agree that there would be a strong case for forgiving debts of the Iraqi state, but I don't see why the debts of Saddam--
MS. PLETKA: We can't hear you.
MR. LEWIS: Thank you. On the question of forgiving debts owed by the state of Iraq, yes, I agree that much, perhaps even the greater part of these debts should be forgiven. But as was frankly said, these were debts incurred by Saddam, and I don't see why debts should not be owed by Saddam and his heirs. There must be quite a lot of money available.
MS. PLETKA: Well, there's a solution. Okay. Question? Sir, in the back.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: My question is to Patrick. You made it very clear that the U.S. is not going to war because of oil, but then you stated that they're going to war because of WMDs and to protect its neighbors. As far as I'm aware, in any language I've come across with that issue, the time neighbors has come up is concerned during war, but not going to war because of neighbors. So I'm not sure. Is that the case in your mind? That they're going to war to protect its neighbors in addition to WMDs, of course.
MR. CLAWSON: Look it's quite clear that in recent years, Iraq has not actively threatened its neighbors such as Kuwait, but it's also the case that the Iraqi government periodically or--excuse me--important members of the Iraqi government periodically restate their claims to Kuwait. So we've seen, for instance, the Iraqi Parliament has still got that famous map that shows Kuwait as part of Iraq up there, and Uday loves to run articles and babble about Kuwait really is the 19th province and the like.
And I think you're going to find that there's certainly a great many people in Kuwait who firmly think that if the United States military presence were not there, that Iraq would restate its claims to Kuwait and Iraq would threaten Kuwait again.
So I would make the argument that given the opportunity, Saddam would dearly like to be able to conquer Kuwait and indeed given the opportunity, he'd like to change the arrangement with the Iranians about the Shalarab [ph], if not even exert more claims against Iran.
So I would argue that the reason that Saddam's threat to its neighbors is in remission is simply because of the large-scale U.S. military presence nearby.
MS. PLETKA: Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: I wanted to ask Mr. Clawson two questions. One is you suggested that the world would be better off if the Iraqis themselves decide on how to restructure their economy and that your former organization, the IMF and the World Bank, United States, should not necessarily rush in to help them do that. Can you explain why you feel that way and what would be the benefit to not having those organizations coming in?
Secondly, on a much different tact, I'm interested in your opinion on how you think a regime change in Iraq would impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
MR. CLAWSON: Well, on the first question, Iraqis are a very nationalist people. I mean the British show up after all with a mandate in 1919, and there's the great revolt in 1920. The British have a lot of experience establishing colonial rule in many parts of the Middle East, and this is really the only place that they faced a major revolt as soon as they walked in.
And we've seen a lot of nationalistic revolts even in the pre-Baath period in Iraq, and if the United States were to invade Iraq, there would certainly be suspicions among some Iraqis that we did not have the best interests of Iraqis in mind.
And under those circumstances, I think it's best for us to err on the side of caution, and in particular given that Iraqis do have some quite competent technocrats, I would think that it would be well for us to let them make the key decisions about where Iraq's economic policy should lie.
I say that firmly convinced that Iraq would do well to listen to the advice from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but I just think that politically it could be destabilizing. As my colleagues have pointed out, the rule of law is the single-most important thing for reviving the economy. And if there is instability in the country, periodic coups, resentment against the new government that's caused by its perception that it's too much under Washington's thumbs, that would undermine the rule of law and the prospects for the economy.
On the second question about the impact of a regime change on the Israel-Palestinian arena, that's obviously not the subject of this panel. Let me just suggest that the last time that Saddam was knocked down in 1990-91, that had a considerable impact in taking the wind out of the sails of those who thought that Israel could be indeed eradicated.
Unfortunately, there are still some people who think in terms of the elimination of the state of Israel, and I would think that the defeat of Saddam Hussein would be yet another deterrent to their perception that they could, in fact, eliminate Israel.
MR. AL SHABIBI: On this, actually the first point here is that Patrick was, of course, saying something about the Iraqis can, of course, handle all these things. That's largely true, but the question here is exchange of experiences in the form of technical assistance projects are very important for Iraq. Whether actually from UN agencies, UNDP, I mean even my organization, UNDP, and Bretton Woods institutions, I mean there is always, of course, integrated program and cooperation between those agencies.
The question here is the technical assistance and Iraq doesn't have anything, any system on debt restructuring, debt management, it doesn't have actually any technical assistance about foreign direct investment. There are good laws on paper. Integration to the world trading system, the world financial system. I mean all these things, Iraq was isolated. So we are not saying here that Iraq would need actually the experience of other countries, and this can be formed through technical cooperation projects.
The other point which actually Professor Lewis was mentioning, in fact, there is a tendency now within Bretton Woods institutions and these things that the debt relief should be given to countries that actually put participation as a condition. I mean the HIPC initiative, for example, for debt relief is the relief to be given to countries which actually believe in participation and believe in transparency and these things.
I think this should be applied to countries who actually, who are not participating countries or representative countries. Their debt actually, the debt which is actually contracted by them, should be actually exempted on the countries.
MS. PLETKA: Anybody else? Questions? Take somebody over here. The young man. You can point to each other. You can take turns with the microphone. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Can he go first?
MS. PLETKA: Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Thank you. My question may or may not be within the purview of this panel. In the 12 years since the Soviet Union fell, the Russian government has had a lot of difficulty constructing a state with an effective and enforceable tax policy with property rights and strong contract rights.
And some have suggested that the reason for that is that Russia has tremendous oil reserves, and there would be no incentive for the new government to develop an effective tax policy with all the attendant liberal rights.
And my question is do you think there's a way to approach the oil question in Iraq that avoids this problem?
MS. PLETKA: Who is taking this one?
MR. CLAWSON: I'm pessimistic. There have been a number of quite interesting economic studies about oil is a curse and natural resource endowments is a curse. And that it's going to be a problem. On the other hand, if I might point out, the oil income which after all forms more than 90 percent of government revenue, more than 90 percent export proceeds and over a third of the national income, this is a powerful factor holding Iraq together.
And there have been many people who have talked about the dangers that Iraq could split up into three parts based on the three major ethnic groups, the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites, and I recently brought together a group of people for the Washington Institute to study this matter, and if you don't mind my saying, plugging our little book on it, How to Build a New Iraq after Saddam, one of the things we said was, look, that this oil income is a powerful prize.
And that while many people in Iraq may not particularly like living together in one country with those other people, they all want their share of the oil income. So, yes, the oil income may cause some of the problems you cited, but on the other hand, it helps keep the country together.
MR. SOBHANI: If I may just add, I think one of the fundamental problems of the Persian Gulf is that the means of production are in the hands of the state. And that's where I think the U.S. government while we're embarking on this Iraq campaign should conduct a study with the private sector, with think tanks, as what it would mean for Iraq and the Iraqi people if the oil industry was gradually privatized, so that the oil did not belong to one person or one group after Saddam Hussein.
We in our country have a system where we auction off our blocks. Whoever puts up the highest price gets that and just provides the royalty to the state of Alaska if it's in Alaska or to Louisiana if it happens to be the Gulf of Mexico.
George Bush does not control oil production in America. And I think the beginnings of liberal democracy can be achieved if you start taking the means of production out of the hands of the state.
Now, in the case of Iraq, as Patrick said, there's nationalism, there's other issues, but I think it's worth studying it.
MS. PLETKA: Go ahead, please.
MR. AL SHABIBI: Yes. The question of taxation is very important. I think the oil curse and thus disease is actually making a lot of countries or oil exporting countries dependent on oil, and they don't want actually to depend on any other resource. But when we talk about diversification of the economy in terms of production, and in terms of finance, this is actually very important.
And this should be part of the objective, to have a tax, an efficient tax system, and in addition to that, taxation, of course, will make people feel that they have a share in the country and, of course, they can hold the government--I mean we are thinking all about democracy and these things. Therefore, I mean they will ask the government to be actually accountable.
MR. ALOLOM: I would like to make a comment on the disintegration of Iraq. I heard this rumor for long last ten years. I think the source of these rumors, if you look at them in detail, is coming from Saddam regime and his friends. Neither Kurdish nor Sunni nor Shiite people would like to create a state. They would like to live together and that is their fate and they will stay forever for that.
MS. PLETKA: You have the mike.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Yeah, hi. The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Sobhani actually preempted my question, which is what is going to happen, who in fact will own Iraqi national oil company, but we could boot that up a level. In Russia, one of the most critical things to what success they've had was privatizing oil, and one of the most corrupt sectors was gas, which they did not privatize.
And could I put the question on the table: can you possibly have the free democratic country we're talking about if you have oil in the hands of government? The connection being how would you have anything other than a substantially command economy if the government controls all the oil revenues, it will have to dole that out, to imagine that that will be done in some way that rivals the efficiency of the market is impossible.
And I see Patrick looking with skepticism here, but how do you square that basic economic problem you're going to create if you keep it in government hands with the political freedom that you're talking about?
MR. CLAWSON: For 75 years, modern Iraqi nationalism has defined itself around the issue of control of oil and resistance to foreign oil intervention. You walk into that country and announce that what you're going to do is privatize oil company, and you're going to be stuck there for decades until you leave with your tail between your legs.
That's a formula for disaster. I'm firmly convinced that the proposal that Rob made is in the best interests of the Iraqi people. I'm not convinced that you can sell the Iraqi people on that. And I'm certainly not convinced that you can do it if you start walking in from the beginning doing that. And his caution about studying it is well put.
What we can hope for in Iraq, I think, over the next decade is that we can have a government that becomes respectful of human rights and is representative, is that, let us say, in a number of oil producing countries that have semi-functioning democracies. I think of a Venezuela. I think of an Indonesia. I think of a Nigeria. I think even of a Kuwait.
And I would hope that--none of those are by any means perfectly functioning democracies--but, boy, they are a whole lot better than what Iraq has got now. And that I would hope over time, this issue would become less sensitive, but this, I mean this is the third rail of Iraqi politics with a vengeance.
MR. SOBHANI: Just by way of figures, one can estimate the value of those assets at approximately 1.2, $1.3 trillion. Okay. That's the oil that I'm talking about. One methodology could be, and I agree with Patrick--it can't be done overnight--one methodology could be that the Iraqi national oil company becomes a working interest partner in production sharing contracts, maybe up to 20, 30 percent for each contract.
Once you've monetized those assets, then the Iraqi national oil company can start selling its working interests to the public, and that might be the beginning of a privatization process. But certainly it can't be done overnight, but I also firmly believe--I think Patrick agrees as well--it would be to the interest of the Iraqi people.
But it's going to take a lot of selling to do, a lot of marketing to do.
MS. PLETKA: Let me just look over here. Sorry. Let me ask this lady and I'll come back to you, and just a couple more questions. Actually I think the lady in the back in the red.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Hi. This is a question for Patrick but I'd also like to hear what the rest of the panel has to say. You were talking earlier about oil and the economy of Iraq downstream, and there's been some talk as the United States is trying to get particularly Russia to come on board behind a new resolution on Iraq, that the United States could possibly make some sort of offers to Iraq regarding oil contracts downstream and also repayment of the debt.
Is that at all practical, and if it were practical, is there a price to be paid for making those offers?
MR. CLAWSON: Tell me if I understood your question correctly. In other words, is there something that we can offer Russia about the post-war Russian economic relations with Iraq which would both be appropriate and influence Russia?
Well, I would say that the question of debt we should be prepared to recognize that Russia is not as well to do as many of the other creditors of Iraq, such as the United States or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, and that therefore that Russia might well, special arrangements might well be made for Russia on the repayment side.
And on the question of the interest of Russian oil companies, I guess my attitude would be to say to Lukoil executives that it's not going to be in their best interests of their company to try to develop an oil field on their own. They're going to want to have consortia partners. And we would certainly want to see Lukoil play a role in the oil fields which has got some contracts with the Saddam era. But it has to understand that it's going to be natural that a new government is going to want to redefine the terms and conditions.
In other words, Russian oil companies aren't going to be locked out of Iraq, as they're worried about. But no, they're not going to have the kind of special privilege position which they may have hoped to have. And I think that that's a reasonable offer to put on the table to the Russians.
MS. PLETKA: Yes, sir. I think we better make this our last question. Sorry.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Mr. Clawson, again to you. I'm impressed by your pragmatism, but I'm afraid a bit disappointed by your cynicism.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: We're looking--
MR. CLAWSON: It comes from years working at the IMF.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: All right. But we are, please remember we're looking at a new vision in Iraq, we're looking at a change, we're looking at a whole new dimension that was articulated so well this morning by Mr. Makiya.
Take one quick trip in the Middle East, of all places to the Emirates, UAE. In the Emirates, you have the UAE and then you have Dubai. One has the oil that the whole economy is driven by the oil. The other has a semblance of a private market, and it's thriving. When you go from one to the other, the stark difference is very evident, and we have to look at Iraq in the same way. We can't cloud it and frame it by, well, it may not, 75 years of nationalism, and then have the tail between the legs and run off.
I'm afraid that won't fly, because the proof of the past is not what's going to direct the future of Iraq.
MR. CLAWSON: Sir, Dubai works so well because there is broad consensus in Dubai in favor of those kinds of open and free market policies. There isn't a way in which you can implement those kind of policies effectively in any country unless there is a broad consensus in favor of them.
And I dearly hope that we can develop a broad consensus in favor of those kind of policies in Iraq as quickly as possible. I'm just simply saying I think that it's important that the Iraqis themselves come to that decision, because if we walk in there and announce you have to implement the Washington consensus, as it's often called, about free markets and open, that this would be seen by some in Iraq, certainly seen by many in the Middle East, as America stuffing American economic policies and advice down the throat of the Iraqis.
So while I dearly hope that the Iraqis do decide to follow the Dubai example, I hope that they decide to follow the Dubai example, and it is not one which we in a post-Saddam government, especially if we are in a position of much authority in that post-Saddam government, strongly recommend they impose on the Iraqis. Let them develop themselves.
I hope that that's direction they go in. I would advise them to go in that direction, but I would err on the side of being cautious and that it seems to me that the most fundamental thing to do post-Saddam is to rebuild the political system and I wouldn't want to threaten doing that because I have been so fervent in imposing economic policies that I think are best.
MS. PLETKA: Anybody else? Final word?
MR. SOBHANI: There was a question back there, I think, the gentlemen.
MS. PLETKA: I think we have to cut it off though because we have to take a break. No, can't wait anymore. Let's take a break. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
MS. PLETKA: Ten minutes and we'll be back, so drink quick.
[Whereupon, a short break was taken.]
MR. GERECHT: Now, the fourth panel and the last panel for today is officially called "Post-Saddam Foreign Policy: Iraq's International Obligations, UN Resolutions and Regional Relations." I think to put that a little bit more simply, it's about Iraq and the world or perhaps even more particularly Iraq and the Middle East.
Now, our presenter here today will be Bernard Lewis. I think of all the speakers here today, he needs the least introduction. I will just simply that Professor Lewis has been essential reading on the Middle East and Islam ever since the publication of his dissertation on the assassins in 1939.
Also, on the panel, we have Mr. Serif Egeli. Now, he is an accomplished Turkish businessman and according to reliable sources an extremely politically savvy businessman, who has extensive first-hand knowledge about the Middle East and particularly about Iraq.
Also with us today is Mr. Nawaf Obaid, who is a Saudi oil and security analyst who was in the past a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and also a consultant to the State Department.
And we also have from Paris from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and I just noticed someone misspelled that, is Olivier Roy, who is without question one of the most original and provocative minds on Islam and the Middle East, and certainly his writings on Afghanistan and Islamic militancy, at least in my opinion, are seminal.
So with that I shall turn it over to Professor Lewis.
MR. LEWIS: Thank you. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My assignment, as I understand it, is to consider the position of a post-Saddam Iraq in a global and regional context, dealing with what we more commonly call questions of foreign policy and international relations.
There are two great fears that trouble people over this question. One is that the attempt to establish a democracy in Iraq might fail, a fear which causes great concern in many parts of the world.
And there is also the second, perhaps even greater fear, that it might succeed.
MR. LEWIS: Which causes immense concern in the greater part of the Middle East. I want to look at these two separately and look also at the different ways in which they are being considered, evaluated and interpreted.
Broadly speaking, there are two points of view which predominate in the discussion of these matters, and more particularly considering the question of whether it is possible to establish a democratic regime worthy of the name in Iraq after the departure by whatever method of Saddam Hussein.
Now, as I said, there are two predominant points of view. One of them could be summed up something like this: The Arabs are incapable of democratic government. This is a purely Western phenomenon which works in a limited number of Western countries. Most of continental Europe is only just beginning to learn about it. And the idea of establishing a democratic regime in a country like Iraq is, to say the very least, phantasmagoric.
Arabs are different from us, and we just be more, shall we say, reasonable both in what we expect from them and, of course, in what they may expect from us. Whatever we do, these countries will be ruled by corrupt tyrants and the aim of foreign policy, therefore, should be to make sure that they are friendly tyrants rather than hostile tyrants.
That I think is a fair summary of what is usually known as the pro-Arab point of view.
MR. LEWIS: And the other one, the other point of view is somewhat different. It begins more or less from the same point, that these countries are not democracies, and that there will be some difficulty in establishing democracies, but this point of view goes, they are teachable, and it is possible with our help and guidance to establish democracies in these countries, to start them and help them and gradually launch them on our way, on their way, I should say.
MR. LEWIS: This point of view is known as imperialism. This was the method adopted in the British and French empires, in their mandated territories and in some of their colonies, creating governments in their own image. In Iraq, in Syria and elsewhere, the British creating constitutional monarchies, the French creating unstable republics.
MR. LEWIS: None of them worked very well. But hope still remains. The Indian example, I think, is the most encouraging of all and shows that it can work, it can happen, provided that the circumstances are right.
Well, then where does this leave us after this, shall we say, somewhat discouraging opening? Let's begin with the hypothesis of failure. It can't work. It fails because of the factionalism, the general incapacity of the people of Iraq to run a democratic government.
The specific dangers obviously are a break up of Iraq into--I was going to say into its component parts, but that would be too difficult to define with any precision. The break-up of Iraq. Let's pause at that point.
This is no doubt a real danger as has been pointed out several times in the course of the day. There are important differences within Iraq. There's the ethnic difference, Arabs being the largest, Kurds the second-largest, and other smaller groups of whom the Turkoman are certainly the most important, the only one that could provide the basis for any sort of political claim.
There are other religious differences, Sunni and Shiite, and there is the real danger--it must be admitted that if Iraq does indeed break up, this would have a disruptive effect on neighboring countries, and the emergence of a Kurdish state in the north would certainly cause, shall we say, acute anxiety in Turkey. And perhaps also in Iran and other places where there are Kurdish minorities.
This would make Iraq a danger spot for the whole region, east and west and north and south. The other, and as I said, for most people in the region the greater danger, is that it would succeed, that there would indeed be a civilized, human, decent, democratic government in Iraq, elected by and answerable to the people of Iraq and maintaining the rule of law, civil liberties and other things which we in the Western world take for granted, but which in the greater part of the rest of the world are either new or still unknown.
Here again the difficulties are obvious: inexperience being the most important of them. I would draw attention here to the experience of the Turkish Republic. It is true--no one, I think, can dispute it--that to establish democratic rule, democratic institutions in countries with ancient and immemorial traditions of command and obedience, as the two basic political roles, is a difficult thing.
Now, I think that the experience of the Turkish Republic over the last half century has demonstrated two points. One, that it is extremely difficult to create a democracy in such a society, and the second is that though difficult, it is not impossible. And I feel here that the example in this broader Middle Eastern and Islamic context is a very encouraging one.
We tend to speak of these immemorial traditionals of obedience and command as if it had always been like that. It has not always been like that. There were, I won't say, democratic but certainly less dictatorial or despotic regimes in the past in the regime. Dictatorship is a modern innovation due largely to modernization either inspired by the West or imitating the West. We should have no illusions about that, and I think that for that reason a lot of the hostility, which is directed against the West, blaming us in the West for these troubles, has some justification.
Let me just take two points which I think are important. Two things which the West has done, which westernization has done, modernization if you prefer it. One is the reinforcement of the sovereign power. Thanks to the modern apparatus of surveillance and repression, a ruler in the Middle East today has authority over his people far greater, far profounder, than was ever achieved by the legendary autocrats of the past.
Saddam Hussein, even a petty dictator of a mini-state, as authority vastly beyond the imaginings of a Hiranaroshed [ph] or a Silaman the Magnificent [ph]. Those were restricting regimes, autocratic, yes, but autocratic under law.
And the second thing that modernization has done is further to strengthen the autocracy by either weakening or abrogating the intermediate powers, those elements and orders in society, and here I think of the late autumn and term "aryiane [ph]," the usually translated the notables. Well, in French, social, economic groups, which were able to exercise a restrictive effect on the autocracy of the sultans and caliphs of old. Those also were abrogated or enfeebled by the process of modernization.
So the kind of dictatorship which exists in the Middle East now has to no small extent been the result of modernization, which, in fact, means Westernization. On the one hand, because of the changes which it wrought, and on the other by providing the only European models that really worked in the Middle East, the model of the one party state, the communist model and the Nazi model which for this purpose do not differ greatly, where the party is part of the operators of government and has a function of surveillance, repression and indoctrination.
The Baath has a double ancestry, both fascist and communist, and still represents both trends very well.
Why then do I think there is hope? Well, as I said, there are these older traditions, I will not say of democratic government but of government under law, government by consent, and government by contract in the Islamic world. The Islamic traditional perception of government is contractual and consensual. And this I think holds possibilities for the future.
Now, I was asked to deal specifically with questions of international relations, so let me turn to those points and dealing with what I suppose are the two main issues which will interest outsiders.
The first is will there be, will the policies of a post-Saddam Iraq be pro-Western, will they be sympathetic and friendly to us? I choose to add sympathetic and friendly rather than subservient because if it's the second we're hoping for, then we're defeated from the beginning.
I see many reasons why they should be sympathetic and friendly, though I would not put it past the powers of our diplomatists to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
MR. LEWIS: Would there be peace with Israel? Here, again, a difficult question to answer. Undoubtedly, the struggle against Israel is not very high on the list of priorities of those who look for greater freedom in their own countries. But we don't know where that will lead afterwards. It may be that a democratic government, responsive to the wishes of its people, might become even more hostile to Israel rather than more inclined to making peace.
But I don't think so, and let me in concluding offer you one simple, but I think effective, reason why that is not likely to be the case, if the governments are truly democratic. It has often been said that democracies do not start wars, though they usually finish them. It is true. Democracies do not start wars for a very simple reason. Democratic governments are answerable to their electors, and may be dismissed from office by their electors, and most electorates in most countries do not like wars, nor do they like governments which start wars.
Dictatorships, on the other hand, don't make peace, because they need a state of war. They need an outside enemy against which to deflect the anger, the resentments, the pent-up grievances of their own people. They simply cannot afford to make peace, and we have seen several times in recent years to what desperate measures they resorted when there was a real danger that peace might break out.
I don't need to elaborate on that. I think you will get my point. For that reason, it seems to me that a more democratic form of government in the greater part of the region would be more inclined to seek peaceable solutions to problems, the Palestine problem among others, than to perpetuate a state of war and conflict.
But, of course, there is the other consideration, the more important larger regional one. And here it seems to me that there has been a tremendous overall change in the situation in the Middle East in recent years, the like of which we have not seen for centuries. Modern history of the Middle East by common consent begins with the arrival of General Bonaparte in Egypt in 1798. His arrival in Egypt and his ouster by the Royal Navy commanded by Admiral Nelson, that established a pattern that rivalry of outside powers seeking domination or at least predominance in the region, and the role for Middle Eastern politicians was to play them off against one another and take what advantage they could from these external rivalries.
That ended suddenly and dramatically with the collapse of the Soviet Union. There have been a number of different actors in this scenario over the last two centuries, but the scenario basically remained the same. And suddenly the scenario was changed. Instead of two, there was only one outside power, and the old imperial games seemed to have stopped.
No one was playing it. The Russians because they couldn't; the Americans because they wouldn't. They disclosed neither the desire nor the aptitude for that kind of policy. They were attempts to, shall we say, create or discover a substitute for the Third Reich in the Soviet Union in the leadership of the anti-Western forces. This was offered to Europe. Some were willing to adopt it, but for the most part they lacked both the will and certainly the capacity to play this role.
So where do we go from here? Let me conclude by quoting a conversation which I had not long ago in Jordan in Amman with some Jordanian and Palestinian friends. We were arguing all the different aspects of this question, and then one of them, as he thought, ended the conversation with a line of argument which I'm sure we've all heard before. He said we can wait. Time is on our side. We got rid of the Crusaders, we got rid of the Turks, we got rid of the British, we'll get rid of the Jews. You must all have heard this before.
I said excuse me, but your history isn't right. He said what do you mean my history isn't right? That's how it happened. I said, no. He said the Turks got rid of the Crusaders, the British got rid of the Turks, the Jews got rid of the British. In this sequence, I wonder who is coming here next.
MR. LEWIS: Thank you.
MR. GERECHT: All right. We'll just go to the panel now, and we will just go around the table starting with Serif, Mr. Egeli.
MR. EGELI: Thank you. Professor Lewis is always very hard to comment after your wonderful speeches as always, but I will try to put here the view of a Turkish businessman who was one of the first pioneers of Turks going to do business in the Middle East. I visited Saudi Arabia and Iraq in '71, and since then extensively traveled around the Middle East and did a lot of jobs.
Now, I am a citizen of the Turkish Republic. Turkish Republic was one of the 47 nations emerged after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as well as all the other nations in the Middle East. We have decided about our borders; the borders of the Middle Eastern states was decided in London by a man drawing a ruler, so these Middle Eastern states have never been as homogeneous nations as a Bulgaria or Hungry or Romania or even Azerbaijan or Tunis or Algeria.
But Iraq was the luckiest one of them because Iraq sits on a wealth, and that wealth of oil and agriculture, it was not like the desert like the other Middle Eastern states. It was the Mesopotamian Valley which produced also agriculture, created the middle class in Iraq which got educated, and the British helped it, they trained the administrative system, the banking clerks and engineers there to build a real state.
Now, when I started my travels in the Middle East, I thought that being a part of the same history of 600 years Ottoman rule I would be welcome in every Middle Eastern state, but wherever I went, they accused me that my republic was established [?] which was against Islamic religion. The only non-negative comment that I heard was in Iraq and from the beginning on, I could see that Iraqis and Turks were very, had affinity between themselves, and they were like two parts of the same old Ottoman grounds.
And reading the history, I could see that the most important governance of the Ottomans was government of Baghdad and government of Basra ruling the Sunnites community in the north and the Shiite community separately in the south.
Started doing business. It was difficult at the beginning, because we had to proceed the Iraqis that there was business in Turkey, that there was industry in Turkey, because nobody from Turkey thinking on business had ever traveled into the Middle East before, but it became very quickly after we could invite them to come to Turkey, see the Turkey, and Iraq became the second-largest trading partner of Turkey.
It was not in that capacity only, because we had other neighbors also, but Iran was never like that. It was always forceful business. Syria was an impossible land for the Turks, so the only country that was cooperating together was Iraq and Turkey, and through Iraq only we could reach also the other parts of the Middle East from Turkey, because only Iraq would allow our trucks to pass through Iraq to reach Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, which would give us the necessary comparative advantage against our competitors who had to go to the Middle East through inhibition parts at that time.
This honeymoon continued until 1990-91, the Gulf War. Throughout from '70s till 1990, I witnessed with my Iraqi friends in Baghdad General Elbiquer's governance [ph], then the Baath Party becoming much more stronger. Mr. Saddam seen taking over power, and then the Iran War. With the Iran War, in Iraq going down of the middle class started. The establishment started destroying them, first their sons were taken into the army, then the Gulf War came, and the sanctions came.
From the beginning when we were as Turkish business community very much against the sanctions, not that we are losing through them, but we believed that we were punishing to the Iraqi nation, which we cherished and loved in Turkey, and for one man, we were giving impossible life to the Iraqis.
When we look to today after post-Saddam, I don't think that any country in the Middle East which would be much more happier if it could have a democratic secular system reigning in Iraq. I don't think our neighbors will be very happy. I'm sure Iran will not be very happy. Saudi Arabia will not be very happy. Kuwait and Emirates are too small to discuss here, but Syria definitely would not be happy.
But in Turkey, we would be very happy, because we believe that being the only secular democratic Islamic country, if it can add more friends to that category in the Islamic world, most of the problems that we are having in the Middle East today would be easier to pass over.
Turkey made the strategy alliance with Israel five years ago, just because Turkey and Israel are the only democracies between India and Europe, and we had to export this idea of democracies to other parts of the Middle East.
So Turkey is for democratization of Iraq. How to make this democratization in Iraq? I think if we can rebuild the old middle class in Iraq, which you have heard from the Ambassador this morning how miserable they are living, the doctors, the engineers, the lawyers, the bank clerks, if it can bring their life and make them happier.
The second thing I'm afraid of which I heard this morning is this idea of a loose liberation in post-Saddam Iraq with demilitarization. Now, the Turkish example has shown us in Turkey that it's very, very difficult to put up a democracy in an Islamic land. You can only do it if you become secular in your country, because only through secularism you can separate the mosque from the good governance.
If you cannot separate it, your laws will be with the mosque, you can get life idea with the mosque and you cannot be a democratic modern state. Iraq can be a secular state. That's why I didn't hear any bad comments about Mr. [?] being our leader because they believe on secularity in Iraq also.
And the second worth of Iraq is their female population. For 30 years, every company that I visited had as much female workers in it on top level down to the workers level, as much as men, and today I don't know the figures, but after all these wars, I'm sure the female population in Iraq is larger than the masculine population.
[?] in Turkey making the first reforms, his biggest asset was the female population after the independence in Turkey when we started the reforms, 70 percentage were females in Turkey and 30 percent men. They had all died in the First World War, and gaining this female population and getting their backing behind you creates the modern civilized state, because the failure of Islam is having half of your viable workable population unproductive. You cannot create a modern country having 50 percent of your population not working for you. You have to gain them and bring them.
And I think this is the hope of Iraq also, if it can do it. Now, another must I think that we have seen also in the Turkish example is at the beginning, if you write a secular democratic constitution for your country, you have to have somebody to defend it for you. Otto designed the Turkish military army to defend it, and they did it until today, and without the Turkish army, we could never had the democracy we had in Turkey up till now.
We saw it in the Iranian example. Shah couldn't lead because he didn't have an army behind himself, although he paid all the money for it for many years. So we have to have a transparent constitution defending army in Iraq also at the beginning. If we don't have this army to defend the new Iraqi constitution, the cake in Iraq is too big, and there are too many separated communities which will fight for this cake, and then you will have another Lebanon like the ten-year wars they had or a kind of Yugoslavia.
You cannot have unity and integrity of the land without somebody there designed by the constitution to defend it. So we have to have an Iraqi army. To come to a conclusion, I wish that we could have a democratic, secularly democratic Iraq with the help of all the international community very soon.
And our ultimate aim in whatever years we reach it must be to make this new democratic Iraq a part of NATO. Only then I think it could be a very valuable asset to NATO, much more valuable than the countries like Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, that we are putting in the NATO now without any importance.
That country then can also bring the Western civilization ideas and values into the Middle East and help us to make the Middle East a reconstructed democratic region.
I thank you now for these words.
MR. OBAID: Thank you very much for having me here today. I'm here to talk about the Saudi position or more specifically generally a Gulf position, but more specifically on the Saudi stance with what will happen in Iraq in case there is an invasion.
I actually personally believe, especially from the last two weeks on developments that have happened in the Kingdom, that they are moving towards a full support of a strong UN resolution for a control and for the complete disarmament of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but again the problem here lies in how it will be done.
Initially, there was a lot of reticence from the Saudi government on the issue of will the U.S. go ahead alone, and will there be a unilateral invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces? And since the UN General Assembly in September, since the U.S. general assembly in late of September, and President George Bush's opening about having a multilateral strong resolution, you've had the Saudi government come out and fully support a UN mandate to first go in and to safeguard the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein has been producing or is alleged to have produced, and then ultimately if he does not cooperate, to have a full UN resolution calling for force in order to extrapolate him and his regime.
And as such, Saudi bases would be used in that regard, but there is one big element that most people have missed here. And this directly deals with U.S.-Saudi relations, and it has to do with U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. A lot of people unfortunately miss the reason why U.S. troops are still currently in Saudi Arabia, and this is to safeguard the no-fly zone over Iraq, and in essence to make sure that Iraq does not again try to aggress Kuwait and ultimately invade Saudi Arabia this time.
And one of the big talking points that's been going back and forth between senior members of the Royal family and senior religious figures in Saudi Arabia over the last two or three weeks has been the issue of if the Saudis do back a U.S. inspired UN resolution, or ultimately a U.S. unilateral action against Iraq is the removal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia once there is successful U.S. invasion and the dismantling of Saddam Hussein's regime.
And this, although I have not seen it, I have not seen it reported actually at all in the U.S. press or even talked about, is actually, it's been one of the main points in the last couple of weeks over the dialogue that's been raging in the Kingdom about if, when and how will the Saudis support a U.S. plan to tentatively topple Saddam Hussein?
But the concerns remain, and a lot of the concerns here is about the timing and about the consequences, and as Mr. Egeli so eloquently portrayed it earlier on, there's this issue of what happens once there is a U.S. attack, what happens to Iraq? And this has been the main concern of the senior religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, and some of the big tribes.
Because the other issue that the Royal Family has had to deal with is obviously gaining support for having Saudi bases being used as the launching pad, but more importantly is the sheiks, the big tribal sheiks that have a lot of families and tribal affiliation in the northern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq, and there are a lot of those tribes that are very influential today in Saudi society, and in Saudi tribal politics, so to speak, and they are by fact of their power and their numbers are also very influential in Iraq, especially around the area of Basra, and so they have been very outspoken about their desires and their wishes if the Saudi government were to fully authorize the United States to use Saudi bases.
So what you have today, what you have today in the Kingdom is this dialogue between I guess three centers of power represented by the Royal Family, the religious establishment, and those calling for the purpose of this discussion today, this council of tribal leaders, which it's funny actually because some of them are actually Iraqis where you have a cousin being a Saudi. In the National Guard, you have an Iraqi being, you know, a general in the security service, and so what you have is that they obviously all have different perspective on the matter, and they all have different desires on where this will develop.
And so, but they have been able to grapple around one main issue, and this is the issue of if the Saudi bases are given use, that U.S. troops will ultimately have to slowly leave. So this is one of the main issues that's been talked about.
The other issue more generally on the regional level is how will a liberated Iraq be perceived in Saudi Arabia, and here again there's been all kinds of different opinions on that matter, and clearly, I mean if there is a liberated Iraq, one and foremost is will it stay in the its form; and two, what kind of regime will be in place, what will be the nature of the regime?
And again, I personally do not believe that Saudi Arabia or that the Saudi government today will have enough influence to determine what kind of regime will ultimately end up being in place in Iraq. This considering that everything goes well and that there's a liberation and so forth.
But I do believe that--and this is a concern by many people within the Saudi government today--is that they cannot see Iraq being a democratic state. There is no, and this especially, this is especially vocal theme among those tribal leaders, that they come back and they cannot see how there is going to be some sort of democratic processes in Iraq emerging if Saddam Hussein does fall.
They all actually, most of them are vying for for their own political positions. So this is also another issue that I don't think people have really looked into is this issue of what will happen and who, what kind of tribal leaders in Iraq are to emerge? And ultimately on a more unilateral matter is the issue of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and that has been a very heated debate in the press and the media and in the Congress over the last couple of months.
And one of the promises by a certain member of the Royal Family to the establishment ten days ago was that if Saudi bases are to be used by U.S. troops, that there will be an understanding with the United States that ultimately over a slow ultimate phased out level, process--excuse me--of the removal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia.
MR. ROY: Well, we go thin line with my colleagues. As far as the neighbors are concerned, and by neighbors, of course, of Iraq I include Iran, I think that first most all Iraqi numbers consider the present situation as a lesser evil. They prefer to have the weak united Iraq, and they fear the consequences of a U.S. campaign in Iraq, but they all expect if they don't wish it or even if they don't wish it or even if they oppose it, they all expect a U.S. military campaign in Iraq.
It's considered now the given fact and one of the consequences is that if the U.S. do not attack in Iraq, it will be a loss of credibility in the whole Middle East now.
Third, in case of such U.S. military campaign, the neighbors will not oppose, and they may even participate at different levels, officially or unofficially, but none of them will try to undermine by any means a U.S. military campaign in Iraq including Iran.
They all are driven by security and defensive concerns. None of the Iraqi neighbors consider a U.S. military campaign and the fall of Saddam Hussein as an opportunity. They all consider that this might provide opportunity for the others, for the other neighbors or other political forces like the Kurds, for example. But none of the, except Kuwait in a sense, but none of the Iraqi neighbors have an interest, you know, in the territorial or anything else in Iraq now.
In defense, they will anticipate moves and benefits made by the others. And they will try, you know, to prevent or to position themselves regarding any move that could be done by another neighbor, other political forces like the Turks.
So the main issue for the Iranians will not be what the Americans will do. The main issue will be what the Turks will do, of what the Arabs might do in the Gulf, what could be the benefits from the Gulf and so on and so on?
So what will, to which extent the downfall of Saddam Hussein will have great impact in the Middle East? You know there are many stories about taking the opportunity of a U.S. military campaign not to redraw across the borders of the Middle East but to redistribute the cards, playing a democratization and things like that.
Well, I think there are three issues at stake. One is a Kurdish issue. It's a most important issue. And in a sense, the Kurds will be the losers in case of the fall of Saddam Hussein, if there is a democracy in Iraq, while the Turks, the Kurds will give real autonomy and a lot of commercial benefits for an illusive participation to a shaky central coalition government. They might, however, not be very happy with this deal.
And if there is a strong central government in Iraq, well, we will back, you know, to the usual patterns. Any strong government in Iraq will sooner or later push again for the Kurdish issue, you know, the control of [?], and will also try to find outlets to the Gulf, to the Gulf, you know. So a strong government--this is point--a stronger government in Iraq will bring Iraq to the same traditional patterns of threatening states in the Gulf and trying to control the Kurdish areas as much as possible.
If--my last point--there is a real democratization in Iraq, I don't think this will be a model for the other countries in the area. The main driving force now in Middle East including in Iran is nationalism, you know.
Of course, Iranian people, they don't like the mullahs. They would like to have democracy. They will not die to have democracy. They will die if the territory of Iran is threatened by anybody, and I think it's the same in the area. We have to take into consideration that the driving force is not Islamism, it's not democratization, it's nationalism, and it will go on like that for some times. Thank you very much.
MR. GERECHT: First, I want to thank everybody from the panel again, and we'll open it up for questions. That was very quick. First question, Michael.
MR. RUBIN: There was a poll released yesterday that had been taken in Iran that after 20 years of an unrepresentative government, over 80 percent of the people, I believe it was, over 80 percent of the people had said they looked back extremely fondly on Resa Shaw as the founder of modern Iran and something to be emulated.
Taken it to the Iraqi example and given that Iraq has lived under a dictatorship for much longer, I was curious do any of the panelists, especially Professor Lewis, who has talked about the past, about how they might view the Hashimites and whether how the Hashimites might view Iraq with regard to the future and with regard to looking back to a perceived golden age?
MR. LEWIS: It is very hard for Americans to contemplate the replacement of a republic by a monarchy as a step forward. Nevertheless, I think one must accept the fact that in several Middle Eastern countries, a restoration of a former monarchy probably represents the best possibility for establishing some kind of regime which is stable and decent at the same time. Usually it's one or the other at most.
And to which also does contain within itself the principle of succession. For any kind of stability and regime, you need legitimacy and succession, and the strength of that is demonstrated by the fact that we now have something previously unknown to history and political science, that is hereditary revolutionary leadership.
MR. LEWIS: And in Syria, it has happened. In Iraq it is obviously intended. And it seems to me, therefore, that the heredity principle, in other words, the monarchial principle, is still alive and well in the region. And I would think that a real monarch with a past, a tradition and some acceptability has a much better chance that a pseudo-republic.
MR. EGELI: May I add something? I just want to give you an example. Maybe you are not aware of it here. Bulgaria after 50 years of communist rule became--wanted to become a democracy, and the first prime minister they elected popularly was the old king. The king came not as a monarch, but he went into the elections and got elected. And his coalition partners in the government is the Muslim society, the Turkish society of Bulgaria, who voted for him is now governing Bulgaria together in a coalition with the old monarch.
MR. GERECHT: More questions? Yes.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: My question is for Olivier Roy. I was surprised to hear you say that you thought that Iran would look more or less benignly on a change in Iraq, and I was wondering why you think that is the case?
MR. ROY: They consider that a U.S. campaign is now inevitable, and that it's not in their interest to oppose it and to appear, you know, in the front-line of anti-Americanism in the area. It's a purely pragmatic move from Iran.
And by the way, they are in a very strange situation, because as you know, the Iranian revolution was anti-American, but now after 20 years, they're almost surrounded by American troops, you know, the last month was in Afghanistan. You have American troops in Uzbekistan. You will have American troops in Azerbaijan sooner or later in any form. So next time it's Iraq, you know. They are already in Turkey, of course, and first they are used to now. If they wanted to move, they should have moved during the Afghan campaign. They didn't move, and on the contrary, in fact. They had a very low profile.
So it's shear pragmatism from them. They know there might be some strike against Iran and things like that. It's not in their interest to fight. They will not fight.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Well, I didn't mean that only the possibility that they would directly fight, but they have alternative options, in the sense that they could encourage Hizballah to launch rockets into Israel?
MR. ROY: The Iranians, it's in the interest of the Iranian to delink, you know, issues on the borders from the [?] conflict. They have some sort of interest, but it's very low, but it can conflict by supporting Hizballah, clear. They consider that Hizballah--they need Hizballah's leverage in the Near East, but they want to delink that. They will not endanger the Iranian territory for support for Hizballah in Lebanon. It's two different issues.
And look at what they did just now in Iraq. They expelled Molecucar [ph], you know, the Mulakacar [ph]. He's the head of one of the Islamist leader in Kurdistan. They sent him to Norway, to Netherlands at least. Okay. So it's a clear signal. It makes a difference. It's a patient compromise, you know. But it's a clear signal that they have no intention, you know, to play a tricky role now in Iraq now. We'll see after.
MR. LEWIS: I'd like to add a brief word on that. In February of this year, I attended a meeting in Istanbul, a joint meeting of the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a very impressive gathering with more than 40 ministers of foreign affairs and their attendants. And it was rather striking that the Egyptians took a much more anti-American line than the Iranians.
The strongest term that Herazee [ph] used in condemning American policy was "misguided."
MR. LEWIS: So it was very mild. I think that the speech, which was then fairly recent, had a considerable impact, and the Syrians, I understood, felt slighted and humiliated at not having been included in the access to--
MR. GERECHT: I'll go here and then over here and then the back.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: I wonder whether Mr. Roy would comment on the presence along the Iranian frontier with Iraq, not only of the Ansa Alislam [ph] whose leader you referred to, Mulikraka [ph], who's now in a high security prison in the Netherlands, but the Iranian support, first of all, which made Ansa Alislam possible, and which has acted, applied pressure to the authorities of the patriotic union of Kurdistan, to accept an Islamist presence in the affairs of that part of Iraqi-Kurdistan under the PUK rule, just as one thinks of how Iran has used the situation in western Afghanistan through Ismail Khan, the man who runs Harat [ph], and also by the curious way of getting rid of Gobin Hechnatia [ph] by exporting him into Iran when he's perhaps the most virulently anti-American of all the Afghans. Thank you.
MR. ROY: So parallel between the Iranian policy in Afghanistan and Iraq is quite relevant. They are working in the same way. They have different cards. They sometimes they mix up their own cards, you know, they undermine somebody with their own allies, through somebody who is supposed to be also one of their own allies. They did that in Harat for years. They are supporting Ismailhan [ph], but they also contributed to form and to help some groups who are anti-Ismailhan. So it's kind of, you know, of a complex policy.
But if we look at the global of all, they keep a low profile, but they want to be players. But they don't want a confrontation. But they want to have people and so and so. What they did about the Mukabachar [ph], they sent Mukabachar back to Afghanistan, the same way they sent Mulikarchar [ph] back to Netherlands. But I'm quite sure that they would hope to see Machar being killed by U.S. bombs at some time in Afghanistan.
For them, the benefit, you know, at all the levels. They can say that the Americans are killers, but they have Machachar being killed so it's okay for them, you know.
MR. OBAID: Win-win.
MR. LEWIS: Win-win.
MR. GERECHT: Right here.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: My question will be to Professor Lewis. Furthering Michael's question, would you please comment on the Hashimite point?
MR. LEWIS: Yes, the question is on bringing us back to the possibility or desirability of a restoration of a monarchy. Well, there, of course, the question arises whether the Hashimites would be willing and able, and the Hashimites have several possibilities before them at the present time, and there are several possible candidates. I'm told that many in Iraq look back with on the whole affection to the period of the monarchy, and certainly it's very good in comparison with everything that has followed, and that in that way, therefore, a restoration of the monarchy might be an attractive solution to the problem of transition and succession.
And I have no doubt that the Hashimites would be willing, if called upon, to play this role, but I very much doubt whether they would be willing to play an active part in bringing it about. In other words, if they're invited, their answer would be yes, but I don't see them launching a royalist movement in order to take over. That's just a personal impression. I can't say more than that.
Succession is really the crucial question. I mean the normal methods in the region, as they have been established in the second half of the 20th century, are putsch, coup d'etat, premento [ph]. I give you the French, Spanish, German terms. English history provides no equivalent.
MR. GERECHT: Right here and then we'll go in the back.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: This question is also to Professor Lewis. I'd love to know what you think about somebody mentioned nationalism is the driving force in the area. I'd love to hear your opinion how that would compare, for example, with Islamism or what are the driving forces?
MR. LEWIS: In comparing nationalism and Islamism, it is very difficult to assess the force of one or another ideology or policy among public opinion in the region, because public opinion has very little meaning in a society which is ruled by an autocratic government and where the media are either owned or manipulated by authority.
So that we really have no ways of measuring public opinion in a way that is possible in Western societies. Nevertheless, one can have certain impressions. And nationalism was certainly a very powerful factor in the second half of the 19th century. Nationalism and socialism are the bastard offspring of the two, national socialism, commanded tremendous support in the region.
I had the impression that both have lost ground. Socialism was discredited by its failure, and socialist economies that were set up in one country after another simply failed to produce the expected plenty and prosperity. We have derelict socialist economies from Algeria all the way eastward.
And nationalism was discredited not by its failure but by its success, and there was some confusion between two different things, freedom and independence. People thought they were the same thing. Nationalism succeeded in achieving independence. What they discovered was that freedom and independence were two very different things. And at times even appear to be mutually exclusive.
And what independence often brought was the replacement of foreign overlords by home-grown tyrants who were much worse because they were more adept in their tyranny and less constrained. So I have the impression that nationalism has become somewhat discredited among many people, and this has given a strong impetus to Islamism as the alternative way.
Remember the Islamists can claim a great success. The nationalists won their battles for independence and were discredited by what they had achieved. The Islamists claim one great victory, the overthrow of the Soviet Union. Remember, as they see it, it was their struggle in Afghanistan which succeeded in driving out the Russians and bringing about the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. As they see it, the nationalists failed. Their policy of using the Western powers against one another failed. Independence was a sad disappointment, and the case of the Islamists is correspondingly stronger.
My impression, and I stress this is only an impression, is that in recent years, there has been a considerable growth of Islamist sentiment and a decline in nationalist sentiment.
MR. GERECHT: Back, the young lady in the back.
MR. LEWIS: Wait a minute. Aren't you going to say something?
MR. GERECHT: Olivier, did you have something to say?
MR. ROY: Well, I disagree, of course.
MR. LEWIS: I wanted to hear you say it.
MR. ROY: I think the first generation of nationalists have been discredited. During the '80s, the '70s, we had the peak of Islamism as an alternative to nationalism, but what we see now is a sort of mixing of Islamism with nationalism. If you look at Palestine, if you look at [?], you can't make a difference between an Islamist anti-American and a secular nationalist anti-American. You know they're the same.
And we have now I would say the divide line between Islamist and secular nationalist is blurring more and more. So it doesn't mean that we have a return to the old sort of Baathist nationalism or Baathism is, I agree, is discredited too. But the things we can move people now is this kind of what I call Islamic nationalism are sort of local nationalism blended with pan-Arabism. Pan-Arabism is a dream, you know, but it strikes a chord among people in the Middle East, in the Arab Middle East.
And pan-Islamism has no political appeal in the Middle East, maybe emotional appeal but not at all political appeal.
MR. GERECHT: Back of the room.
MR. LEWIS: May I just add one word on that? I still believe that nationalism has been discredited and in decline, but what I do see developing is another idea of European origin and that is patriotism, which is the same as nationalism. This is already a powerful force in two countries, Turkey and Iran, and it may yet become more of a factor in the Arab countries. Thank you.
MR. GERECHT: To the young lady in the back.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Thank you for the young lady. My question is actually to Professor Lewis. Professor Lewis, you mentioned that actually one of the groups, the small ethnic groups, all be it the third largest, Turkoman, has actually political, has some valid claims. Unfortunately, in Turkoman communities fate in this whole discussion is hardly ever brought to the light and also there is an effort to rewrite sort of the history of the region, claiming that this is a predominantly Kurdish region, and some Kurdish groups have made claims to Muslim Kurkut as Kurdish cities.
Can you please elaborate a little bit on how you feel the Turkoman question figures in all of this? Thank you.
MR. LEWIS: The Turkoman are a group of people whose language is a form of Turkish, not very different from that spoken in the Turkish Republic. I suggest, though, they are the most important after the Arabs and the Kurds for two reasons. One is numerical. They are certainly a much larger group than any of the others. And the second reason is their kinship with the neighboring republic of Turkey and sometimes they may serve as a basis for Turkish intervention or even more than that.
We don't know which way things are going, but it is, I think, an important and open question. I really can't say more than that.
MR. GERECHT: I believe behind--
MR. EGELI: Can I add something?
MR. GERECHT: Oh, sure, sure, go right ahead.
MR. EGELI: You see out of the 20 million population of Iraq today, we have about two to three million Turkminis. They were living more concentrated in the Muslim Catholic [?] area before, but through the efforts of Saddam and the Baath Party, they scattered all over Iraq, so they are not concentrated. But it's a great concern in Turkey also about this possible Kurdish area. You see at the moment autonomist Kurdish community in the north are having their most prosperous time ever in history.
They are not harassed by any of the neighbors because the British and U.S. planes are defending them. For the first time in history, they have a steady income, monthly income, coming from the United Nations, and their food is coming from United Nations, and because they don't have any problems, they are very well organized.
And if there is a military intervention in Iraq, they will come out the best of the communities because nobody is going to bomb the Kurdish areas to enter Iraq. It will be the Sunnite or Shiite areas in the middle or in the south which will go through the military action.
Now, all the neighbors of Iraq want Iraq with total integrity of their ground, and unitary government or governance in Iraq. We don't want a separated Iraq. So any attempt by the Kurdish community to take over Kirkuk or Mausil [ph], which would mean having also loss of their income, new sources of wealth, would not be welcome by any of the neighbors, and that would be a problem in the Middle East.
So we all wish as neighbors of Iraq, that Iraq will be a unitary integral new democracy to emerge from this operation that we are going to see to happen. Thank you.
MR. GERECHT: Now to the back.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: This is for Nawaf Obaid. Does the Saudi Royal Family have an understanding of any kind, formally or informally, on paper or wink-wink-nudge-nudge with the United States that on completion of a military campaign in Iraq, and the ouster of the Iraqi government, the American forces will go?
MR. OBAID: No. If I gave that impression, then that was a misleading one. What I was saying is that there is discussion among the different centers of power in the Kingdom on that subject, but as to my knowledge, no, there is no agreement, and I don't even think it's even been raised so far. Thank you.
MR. GERECHT: Over here.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: I know this question wasn't part of the agenda, but I hope you can answer it anyway. Maybe if American forces end up going into Iraq will they be greeted as liberators or as incoming occupiers/oppressors?
MR. OBAID: I'll just begin with that. There was one of the sheiks, he's from the Zubear tribe [ph], and that was one of the sheiks that's been very vocal in Saudi Arabia about the issue of Iraq, and he actually claims that if--now that's him claiming--that if the U.S. does actually invade, that in some quarters, especially around Basra, they will be received as enemies.
MR. LEWIS: From all that I hear from many different sources, I don't have the slightest doubt that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis would welcome the American forces as liberators. I don't think that is the question. The question is how long would they continue to regard them in that light?
MR. GERECHT: We had another question towards the rear. I've been ignoring the rear. Over there. If you could come forward a bit, I think the microphone starts to click and make obnoxious noises back there.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: For Professor Lewis, do you think there is any tendency in the United States right now to assume this imperial role you talked about in history?
MR. LEWIS: No, I don't. On the contrary. There's a reluctance to approach it. It's interesting that if you look at the complaints which are made in the region about the United States and which come again and again from all sorts of different quarters, what they are complaining about is American failure to play its proper imperial role.
And if, for example, when you say you are applying double standards, this is nonsense. You are not being even-handed. What does this mean? I mean to say double standards is most unfair. Why should one be limited to two standards?
MR. LEWIS: A sovereign power in a world of sovereign powers will have many different standards for dealing with different people. The accusation, the need for a single standard for even-handedness and so on, these are qualities which you desire in judges, juries, police forces and other agencies of enforcement of the law. They are also qualities to be expected from an imperial souzeratin [ph] dealing with different tributaries and dependents and native princes.
That is what they wanted, it would seem. Otherwise, this talk of double standards and even-handedness is complete nonsense. And if you look more carefully, as I was saying, the complaint is failing to meet, to fulfil the imperial role, and the great danger of American imperialism is that they'll go away.
MR. GERECHT: One more question from over here and then I'll switch back in this direction. I think there was another individual. Yes, right there.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Thank you. My question is for Professor Lewis and the other panelists. Just reflecting on today's conference, Planning for Post--sorry.
MR. GERECHT: Could you move forward just a bit?
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Yeah, sure. Reflecting on the title of today's conference, Planning for a Post-Saddam Iraq, how big of an enterprise is this, in your judgment? How many years? How much American involvement? How much Western involvement? What's the reasonable good case scenario? What in your judgment are realistic scenarios that perhaps aren't so good?
MR. LEWIS: I heard a story, and my business is dealing with the past, not the future, and I feel very unhappy.
MR. GERECHT: That's cheating, Bernard.
MR. LEWIS: I feel very unhappy making predictions, particularly short-range predictions. Long-range predictions are fairly safe.
MR. LEWIS: But short-range predictions are very hazardous. Let me say just this. That I think the task will certainly be difficult, and will take awhile. I think it will take longer than people hope, but not as long as they fear.
MR. GERECHT: Question here and then I'll go back there.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: In the light of the ideological void left after the Soviet Union, I mean many of these dictatorial forces within the region relied ideologically and otherwise on the Soviets, and, in fact, Iranian government and Iraq are two good examples, where else do they have to go? I mean where else people in the region can go when there is that--I mean before there was this struggle between the Soviets and the West.
Now that the Soviet Union is completely discredited and gone, do they have anywhere else to go, but towards a democratic society? Is there any--and also in the light of the first panel, in the light of what the first panel, the marvelous appreciation of democracy this morning, I wanted to ask you what lessons have we learned from Afghanistan that we can use in Iraq?
MR. GERECHT: Anybody want to tackle that?
MR. LEWIS: Well, as I tried to point out before, I think that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have a situation which has not existed for centuries and people have reacted to it in different ways. Some are still trying frantically to find a replacement for the Nazis and the Soviets. And so far, with very limited success.
Others feel on the contrary, that this is their great opportunity, and it seems to me that it principally the Islamic fundamentalists who feel that this is their great opportunity, that they won the great victory, destroyed one of the two powers of evil, and now feel ready to attack the other, and their ideology is, of course, very clear. It's a revived Islamism.
So far I don't see any other power or any other ideology, but that doesn't mean to say that one will not emerge. There are various possibilities. One can imagine a resurgent Russia, and Russia is not going to remain indefinitely on the sidelines of history. Sooner or later a country with those numbers, those resources, those talents will be back, and they will certainly take a vital interest in the region as near to their southern frontier wherever that may ultimately lie as the Middle East.
Another possibility is the two great powers of Asia, China and India, who may be forced into rivalry over the Middle East, which is vital to both of them for different reasons. But as I say, I can sketch possibilities, but I wouldn't like to predict with any greater precision.
What I do feel very strongly is that the peoples of the Middle East have a limited time available to them, to compose their differences, and to learn how to cooperate. If they do, then they can do really great things in the Middle East.
It's happened several times before, and they can do it again. If they don't, then as I once said somewhere else, the suicide bomber will become a metaphor for the whole region.
MR. GERECHT: Olivier, did you want to add something?
MR. ROY: Yeah, about the lessons of Afghanistan, of course, the situation is very different, the history, political structure, tribal structure, and so and so. But one of the first lessons is a problem in Afghanistan has been the delinking between the political issues and the military issues. The U.S. Army was in charge, you know, to destroy the Taliban. It was a victory, a success. Then it's in charge to find bin Laden, and so, but until recently--it's changing now on the ground--until recently they didn't care about the political implication of the way they were campaigning, they were fighting.
And the U.S. Ambassador who was in charge of dealing with particular political affairs, was not seen for good reasons by the Afghans as the real man, you know, because he had no weapons, no money, nothing like that. So when we have to be very careful to link political issues and military issues from the beginning, you know, and of course, a professional military have a tendency to, you know, just to look at professional issues, how to make the war the best way, you know.
Nothing necessarily on the political consequences. So that is the first point. The second point, but it's linked with that, allies in a military campaign could be liability in a political process. Now, beware of your allies sometimes.
And last point--
MR. GERECHT: Does that include France, Olivier?
MR. ROY: I said allies in military campaigns.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Is France an ally of the United States?
MR. ROY: And the last point, we should rely, you know, on domestic political process, you know. I don't believe in the sort of political engineering when you--from above, you find the best solution by country. It has to do through the people. This means through sometimes a painful political process, and the long-term political process.
MR. GERECHT: I promise the gentleman right there.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Professor Lewis is not in a mood to make predictions about the near term. So therefore I'll ask everybody else on the panel. I will, however, key off a few things that Professor Lewis did say. I gather that the essence of your view about the prospects of Arab democracy or even Iraqi democracy is that this is difficult but not impossible.
This presumes, therefore, some sense of a time table about under the best circumstances when such a thing might come to pass. And on the other hand, too, you just said in answer to a question that you don't see the United States as having the sort of imperial appetite with regard to the Middle East, and yet there are some people who see the democratization of Iraq as the vanguard of a hearts and minds strategy, so to speak, to get at the underlying motivation of the war on terrorism, of apocalyptical terrorism. So we would preempt their missiles and their madman, but we would also try to preempt their motives by democratizing their political culture.
MR. GERECHT: Now, I don't mean to intrude. We're just running short. So pithiness is a virtue.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Here's the question. Is there an imaginable time table for the democratization of Iraq or the wider Arab world? Is there a time table that could possibly be practical in the sense of dealing with our problems in the war on terrorism?
MR. LEWIS: I am what I would describe as cautiously optimistic about the prospects for establishing a democratic regime in Iraq for a number of reasons. Let me start with personal experience. And when I was still teaching in England, the overwhelming majority of my graduate students came from Arab countries and were graduates of Arab universities.
And I had a fairly wide, shall we say, comparative experience of dealing with these graduates and realizing what kind of a training and education they had had and perhaps most important of all, particularly in the present day American context, evaluating the significance of the grades and marks that they had.
I found that the Iraqis were far and away the best. The Iraqi universities were serious. People who came as graduates from Iraqi universities had had a good education, both secondary and higher. And a degree meant something, and if it was first class honors, one could rely on that, too. It meant something.
Now, Saddam Hussein has done a great deal of damage, no doubt at all, to the Iraqi educational system, but where you have an educated class, they generally manage to educate their children somehow, even if the school system has gone to pot.
And one can, I think, see indications of this. And I would add another point. I think of all the oil countries, the Iraqis under successive regimes made the best use of their oil revenues. They used it to build infrastructure, to build an educational system and so on. And we see the results of that.
Someone earlier referred to the position of women in Iraq. Yes, I think that's also an important point. And in the Western world, we are accustomed to regard women's rights as part of the liberal program. In the Middle East, it doesn't work that way. The liberal program is giving people what they want and what the people want is suppressing women, so that you find that women's rights fair better under autocratic than under democratic regimes.
In Iraq, this has produced, I think, interesting and valuable results. And I remember Egyptian friends of mine, when Egypt was far more liberal and open than Iraq, who wanted to publish feminist articles sent them to Iraq to be published because it was impossible to publish them in Egypt, so for these reasons--one could add others--I am, I would say on the whole, optimistic about the possibilities for developing a democratic regime in Iraq.
Now, one has to be realistic. Democracy is a difficult system to operate, and we see that from the vicissitudes of democracy in continental Europe over the past half century, not to speak of earlier times. And democracy is a strong medicine. It has to be administered in small, gradually increasing doses; otherwise, you risk killing the patient. I mean remember Hitler came to power as a result of a free and democratic election.
MR. GERECHT: Just a couple more questions and then we will stop. Right here.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: What will happen to Iraq, to the region and to U.S. relations with the region if Saddam is not removed?
MR. LEWIS: If?
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: If Saddam is not removed?
MR. ALOLOM: Saddam disappears?
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: No, no, no, no. He's not removed.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: He stays.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: He stays. He stays.
MR. LEWIS: More predictions.
MR. EGELI: I would say it will be the same as today. As we are living today with Saddam, the same way we'll live with him.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: Oh, no. What about the weapons of mass destruction?
MR. EGELI: Well, being neighbors, and you being so far away, we don't believe that there is so much weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: You probably have a better knowledge of that.
MR. LEWIS: I look at it differently. I don't think the weapons of mass destruction are the immediate issue. I wouldn't dismiss them, but as somebody remarked earlier--yes, you did--there would be a complete loss of credibility. He would then feel free to do as he pleases. He would be back to '90 and to what would have happened if by a slender majority the U.S. government of that time hadn't decided to do something about it.
He would presumably return to Kuwait and we would reply with explosive sentences. From Kuwait he would extend his control to the rest of the Gulf, and would become master of much of the Middle East, I don't have the slightest doubt about that.
MR. GERECHT: Since I've discriminated against that corner, the entire time, I'm going to go back right there for the last question.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT: One of the panelists stated that all of the surrounding countries would prefer to keep Iraq as a unified state. But I wonder how realistic that assumption is, Professor Lewis, when you consider how many other multi-ethnic states that began and were created at roughly the same time have now come apart, and they could only be held together for the most part through autocracy and a police state.
And finally, that the Kurds, many are in herds, 100,000 or something, and many Shiim were are ready to take up arms and certainly want to go their own way. Can the state really be held together?
MR. LEWIS: Again, on this I am cautiously optimistic, and I hope that wasn't a comment. In Iraq, remember, there is a tradition of a strong centralized government, and this I think would continue even after a change of regime and even type of regime. Remember that the government of Iraq would have very considerable financial resources at its disposal, and that again is an important element in maintaining unity.
And as far as the other countries in the region are concerned, I think most of them would fear a break-up of Iraq, if only because of the general principal, that once you start, where do you end? And this was the danger of the Lebanese civil war. People finally agreed was too dangerous to continue and must be brought to an end.
May I make one other observation on this point, which I think is relevant to the positions of the other countries of the region, and I would like to quote a remark that was made by the late Turgut Ozal, and was an old friend. I went to see him in Turkey in November '90, that is to say after the occupation of Kuwait, before the Gulf War.
He was then president, but as I said we were old friends. Our conversation was not as formal as it would normally be between a head of state and a foreign visitor. And at one point, I asked him whether Turkey was with us on this? He said definitely. And I said why so? And he said when the victors meet, we want to be at the table and we want to be on the guest list, not on the menu.
MR. GERECHT: With those words, I'm going to call it to a close. I'd like to thank again the panel.
MR. GERECHT: I'd also like again to thank the Bush Administration for its intention to provide a speaker for the next "Whither Iraq?" forum. It's an immanently sensible idea and we're very pleased it occurred to them.
And for the final words, I'll turn it back over to Danni Pletka.
MS. PLETKA: Several people have asked when we will have our materials, and the transcript and I hope the rest of the materials will be up on our web site by Tuesday, and everybody who signed up should get an e-mail about that. And I hope you'll indulge me if I say thank you to the people who really made this possible: Lindsey Powers, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly McKew, Lauren DiCicio, Veronique Rodman and Jen St. Peters. They really worked enormously hard to make everybody comfortable today. So thank you so much.
MS. PLETKA: And thank our panelists and all of you as well.
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