Monday, October 08, 2007

Down With Fascism

Osman Qadir, The prisoner 1979

I've been watching this 2004 lecture by Kanan Makiya at MIT (thanks gilgamesh) in which he talks about the Iraqi constitution and the Iraq Memory Foundation, which is "engaged in a long-term effort to provide Iraqi society and the world a view of the inner workings of the Ba'thist institutions of repression and social control that dominated all aspects of Iraqi life between 1968 and 2003." I agree with Makiya that Iraqis must be able to discuss these crimes openly and we must not be pressured to forget them. On other blogs I have seen Iraqis (and non-Iraqi Arabs) attack Iraqis who discuss the history of Saddam's crimes and the history of the sectarian conflict in Iraq, and I think this is wrong. Makiya says "It is often the case that people don't want vengeance as much as they want the release that comes from acknowledgment - acknowledgment is more powerful than settling accounts."

Some of the issues in the lecture are old (like WMD) but most of the discussion still applies to Iraq today. I encourage you to watch the whole lecture, including the Q&A session, which includes a question from a 'leftist' who attacked Makiya for being allied with the Bush administration and hoped that Makiya and Bush would be forced to attend the trial of Saddam Hussein and answer questions. The questioner, a young American Muslim woman who personifies the stupidity of many "leftists" and Arabs and Arab Americans, implied that Bush and Makiya should be tried along with Saddam and face the same justice. This is an argument that I heard many times from "leftists" all over the web. Makiya gave an excellent answer: too many people on the left cannot tell the difference between fascists (like Saddam) and non-fascists. It is important to make such distinctions when discussing the history of Iraq.

Makiya and Hassan Mneimneh also discuss de-Baathification and why it was so important to Iraqis, and another questioner at the end asked if there is a risk in persecuting the Sunni Arabs as a result of de-Ba'thification.

Kenneth Oye, Professor, MIT Political Science Department, introduces Kanan Makiya.
Makiya begins at 2:40.
At 20:24, Hassan Mneimneh, a director of the Iraq Research and Documentation Project, describes a collection of Ba’ath Party documents.
Q&A begins at 30:05.

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