White paper from a knowledgeable civilian on how to reconstruct Iraq in the aftermath of war.
Debut author Braude brings solid credentials to bear on the advice he offers here to governments and nongovernmental organizations alike. Holder of a graduate degree from Princeton in Islamic studies, fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi, the 28-year-old Iraqi-American also has close connections to the dissident and exile community. All of these capabilities come into play here, as Braude impresses upon his readers that Iraq is far more than Saddam Hussein. Not only is it the long-ago birthplace of civilization, but until very recently, at its best and most thriving before Saddam’s Ba’ath Party set about its years-long campaign of suppression, Iraq was a multicultural nation, its people well educated and tolerant—all key ingredients, the author suggests, for the good state that can and should follow Saddam’s ouster. Many elements must be brought into the work of reconstruction, Braude writes, from the Iraqi army (which would be trimmed substantially to numbers that “ultimately depend on the level of American commitment to Baghdad’s security,” especially in the face of potential threats from Turkey and Iran) to the deprogrammed agents of the secret police, from teachers to lawyers and judges to expatriates, who will introduce “an inflow of ideological capital” that should serve to further the cause of democracy. Braude predicts good things: the flowering of a culture that has been driven underground, expressing itself in forms ranging from pop music to journalism; the reemergence of a civil society; the establishment of peace and prosperity in the region. All of which, in his optimistic view, could serve to prove “that the hell Iraqis have endured in recent years may mean very little in the grand scheme of things.”
A thoughtful set of well-expressed recommendations, deserving of a wide audience among those charged with making big decisions about the world.