By Jean-Marcel Bouguereau
Le Nouvel Observateur
Monday 08 September 2003
This man who performs significant diplomatic duties just returned from Baghdad. Behind the humor, his anxiety in the face of this powder keg which Iraq is becoming breaks through. He speaks of the United States' inability to reconstruct this country. What would be necessary is a state that has a police force available to track down growing criminality, an army that controls borders which had never previously been so porous, and a budget that would allow water distribution and the restoration of electric power. However, there's none of that.
Why? Because the occupation forces keep control of the levers of power rather than transferring them to a government Council. Because the Americans prepared the war, but didn't organize the peace, as a secret report revealed by the neo-conservative mouthpiece, the Washington Times, has just acknowledged. It's because Americans, who up until now had been so valued for their pragmatism, have become ideologues, "Bolsheviks" of the Right, as Daniel Cohn-Bendit once described them. While Iraq has an urgent need for efficient public services, they've come to start with the systematic privatization scenarios current in their own country.
The result: instead of using the former police, which hasn't participated in repression for the last twenty years (that was exercised by diverse Praetorian Guards whom Saddam trusted); the American administration has privatized security by establishing private militias. Paul Bremer, the chief American administrator, compares Iraq today to the Germany of '45, identifying the Baath party with the Nazis. Hence the useless purges that deprive schools and universities of teachers and professors who only took a party card in order to be able to practice their profession.
The Iraqis who have turned the page on Saddam are stupefied by the inefficiency and incompetence of the American peace machine compared to the efficiency of their war machine. The ultimate paradox: the porous frontiers make an Iraq that was never a safe-harbor for Islamic terrorists under Saddam the point of convergence and refuge for a great many of them since the war. According to our diplomat: from now on there will be more in Iraq than in Afghanistan.
Jean-Marcel Bouguereau is Editor-in-Chief of the Nouvel Observateur. He is also an editorialist for the R publique des Pyr n es, for which this article was written.
Translation: Truthout French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.
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