Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I am not only the first democratically elected leader of an Arab country, I am also the first prime minister in the Middle East to come from a religious, Islamic opposition movement at the head of a diverse ethnic and political alliance. Embracing diversity within human society is not just a political necessity, it is rooted in my faith. Islam teaches that there is no compulsion in religion and that freedom of choice is divinely granted; it is dictators who need to cater to fanatics to stay in power.Iraq's PM Jaafari in an op-ed pleading for the world community to follow the example of the Marshall plan and support Iraq's transition to democracy and normality.
Marshall repaired the decaying infrastructure of Germany after six years of war and 12 years of Nazi rule. In Iraq we have had nearly 40 years of fascist rule and have been in practice at war for half that time. I have seen throughout Iraq the marks of economic collapse and depredation this has left. Iraq today has few English speakers, it has hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers trained for nothing but war and its universities, which once enjoyed a worldwide reputation, lag behind those in the rest of the region. It has debts totalling hundreds of billions of dollars and there has been no investment in its infrastructure for more than 20 years.These words have struck a particular chord with me, because I have tried many times in the past to put the challenges of rebuilding Iraq in their proper context - but also because Prime MinisterJaafari is talking about the Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder.
Three generations of Iraqis have grown up under a dictatorship, learning to take orders but not take initiatives or responsibility, and educated in religious and political hatred and isolationism. My people are a strong people; their will survived. The marks of Saddam's brutal and divisive rule, however, will take time to heal. Many of my people, as well as soldiers from the multinational force, are still being killed by terrorism.
And if you want more Jaafari, here's a good Q&A with him at the Council for Foreign Relations (hat tip: Reg J.)