Letters to Eureka Street

Rebuilding Iraq I

The day-to-day operation of any state, including the newly liberated Iraq, depends on public servants, not politicians. After an entire generation of despotic dictatorship, Iraq must lack both an independent bureaucracy and the potential to establish such a bureaucracy in the short-to-medium term.

The separation of powers is a corner­stone of functional democracy, while political manipulation of the public sector is a cornerstone of repression. Saddam has had 25 years in which to stack all tiers of the Iraqi public service with cronies sympathetic to his philosophy and style of government. A hallmark of this era will be blatant nepotism in the public sector.

Many influential positions in the police force and Justice Department will have been occupied by Saddam’s sympathisers for decades. How will representative government survive in an environment where police officers and the judiciary know nothing of independence from the administration? Education, health, transport and communication will have been overseen by a cadre of Saddam’s ‘good-old-boys’ who have been rewarded for years of faithful service to the regime. Prime local government positions will have been reserved for the chosen few. These bureaucrats are the only alternative to interim supervision by qualified coalition administrators.

Had the dictatorship of Iraq been relatively short, a body of professional, experienced public servants may have survived to resume administration of the country and help establish a stable democracy. However, after almost 30 years of totalitarian rule, there will be no such foundation of appropriately qualified people on which to build a free nation.

The rapid departure of coalition forces and administrators may salve injured Iraqi pride, but an Iraq administered by the old, pro-Saddam bureaucracy will be an Iraq ready and waiting for the next dictator.

I sympathise with those who desire the immediate restoration of Iraqi sovereignty; however I believe that some who demand the immediate removal of the interim coalition administration simply wish to reintroduce an old order in a new guise before Iraq has a chance to build a functional, independent public service which will be able to serve a democratically elected government.

Greg Hawthorne
Stanthorpe, QLD

Rebuilding Iraq II

After illegal invasion, now comes imperialist-like occupation of Iraq with US bases. We still do not know the number of Iraqi casualties in the latest conflict. One wonders if the war was about one tyrant fighting another for his possessions.

There is nothing to admire in the imperialist behaviour of the US under George W. Bush. It would have been better to spend war budget increases on addressing problems of homelessness and poverty and improving public health services in the US. Unfortunately, conservative politics regards such government expenditure on the needy and essential services as a hindrance to ‘growth’ (for those who already have too much).

Nor has the US got to the heart of the Middle East problem, which is the cause of so much hatred towards the US. The US still refuses to adopt an even-handed approach in seeking a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Meanwhile, Australia’s little prime minister, so good at playing race and nationalism cards in ensuring his political survival, rides high on the electoral gains of licking Bush’s boots and sending young Australians to war without so much as a debate in parliament. Like Bush and Blair, John Howard is another politician who kept clear of gunpowder while taking action to cause the deaths of others. As for the US, it needs an FDR.

John Dobinson
North Balwyn, VIC



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