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Wesley Clark on the Aftermath
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David Moles links to this editorial in the Washington Post, in which is pretty pessimistic about rebuilding and democratizing Iraq.

David quotes this bit:

Japan was not at odds with itself. It possessed the raw material for postwar reconstruction: an educated, industrious population; some surviving infrastructure; and modern industrial experience. Imperial Japan was also largely free of the problems of large, restive minorities... Defeat, when it came, was palpable, complete and unquestioned... Literacy was high, and the culture valued hard work and discipline... Almost none of those conditions will be present in post-Saddam Iraq.

Actually, I'd say quite a bit of Clark's analysis of Iraq is presumptuous, condescending, and flat out wrong.

He says that "almost none" of these conditions will exist in post-war Iraq?

"an educated, industrious population"

From what I've read about Iraq, despite Saddam's brutal rule, they're one of the better-educated populations in the Middle East, and also one of the only ones with many working women (the Iran-Iraq war so depleted their workforce that women almost *had* to work to keep the floundering economy going).

"some surviving infrastructure"

Well, that remains to be seen, but Clark doesn't think they'll even be "some"? So far it seems as if coalition bombing is trying to keep most infrastructure (bridges, power plants, water treatment facilities) intact. Note, the lights are still on in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in WWII our allied forces bombed most of Japan to rubble. Most major industrial centers were decimated by firebombing (Nagoya, near where I lived a couple of years ago, was almost entirely rebuilt). Not to mention the two cities we nuked. Clark himself notes that "its major cities were flattened".

Does he honestly think that there will be less infrastructure in Iraq after a war than there was in Japan?

and "modern industrial experience"

Not sure what that means exactly. Iraq has some industry, though like most Middle Eastern countries it relies most heavily on the narrow economic base of its prime export: oil. It would be ideal for Iraq (as well as the other Gulf states) to broaden their economic base, and I hope this will be one of the reforms undertaken. But the simple fact is that Japan never had such a resource to bankroll reconstruction. It's a small, mountainous country with few natural resources.

So, in fact, I'd say Iraq has many more things going for it than Japan did at the end of WWII. As Clark points out, the Japanese were somewhat under the spell of a religious cult leader, the Emperor. The Iraqi people will presumably be relieved to be free of the yoke of the tortuous thug that's been keeping them from truly realizing the potential of their culture.

Unlike the Japanese, who devalued women (and still do to a large extent) and even now still do not integrate them into the workforce in a meaningful way, Iraq should be much more amenable to a diverse, two-gender workforce.

The one area in which I think Clark's analysis has some merit is in the area of the ethnic and religious diversity. Japan, the Ainu aside, were for the most part ethnically and religiously uniform. Iraq is much more religiously and ethnically diverse, but as we've seen in this country, that diversity can be a strength rather than a weakness. It is a real difficulty, not to be downplayed, but not one that can't be handled.

But on nearly every other point, I think Clark's analysis is wrong. Worse than that, I think it does a disservice to the Iraq people and their capabilities.

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