TITLE

Clerical Error

AUTHOR(S)
Kaplan, Lawrence F.
PUB. DATE
May 2003
SOURCE
New Republic;5/12/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 18, p10
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Focuses on the impact of United States post-Iraq War administrative policies on Shia Muslims in Iraq. Responding to televised images of angry Iraqis denouncing the United States, a chorus of Arab diplomats and U.S. pundits warned that democracy in Iraq could lead to theocracy in Iraq. According to members of the administration of President George W. Bush, the Shia we saw on television shouting "Death to America" were actually Potemkin Shia--many of them bought, paid for, and exported by Iran. How could administration officials be so sanguine? Partly because of their assumptions about Iraq's civic life, which they do not believe will lend itself to an Iran-style theocracy. But mostly because of their own plan for Iraq, which they know will not lend itself to an Iran-style theocracy. It is probably more accurate to say that Iraq's Shia population, which remains deeply patriotic, is divided between secular and religious factions and that even the religious faction divides its loyalties between competing clerics. Of the many disagreements settled in the U.S. Defense Department's favor, one in particular has immediate implications for U.S. policy toward the Shia. That is the debate over whether to cede power largely to exile or non-exile Iraqis. State Department officials argued that resident Iraqis should select officials in town meetings who would then serve in the interim authority. This may sound wonderfully democratic, but, in a country where nearly every member of the democratic opposition has either been murdered or driven into exile, it's also a recipe for electing the Shia extremists who made up much of Iraq's homegrown opposition. By contrast, the Pentagon's inclination to empower Iraqi exiles--particularly those affiliated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC)--virtually precludes that option.
ACCESSION #
9709221

 

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