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Dem-Iraq-racy By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 13, 2004


THE GARDEN OF EDEN MAY HAVE BEEN IN IRAQ or close nearby, some scholars believe. The rivers Hiddekel and Perath that Genesis describes as splitting from one river flowing out of Eden might be the Tigris and Euphrates, and the patriarch Abraham came from “Ur in the Chaldees.”

Utopians long have fantasized about restoring Eden – on a terraformed Mars by importing no serpents, or by transforming the politics and economics of this ancient land “between the rivers,” as Alexander the Great’s Greek word “Mesopotamia” means.

As a newly-liberated Iraq is remade, we should not be surprised at the tug of war over how this is to be done. The Shiites who comprise a 60 percent majority of the population, e.g., want majority rule over the entire country. The Sunni and Kurdish minorities want proportional or regional representation as well as constitutional protection of their rights and property.

The New York Times last month almost demanded that U.S. efforts to encourage privatization be prohibited in Iraq, thereby maintaining the widespread government ownership of companies, resources and property imposed by Saddam Hussein’s socialist Ba’athist dictatorship.

To impose capitalism as an occupied nation’s new economic system, according to selected experts quoted by Times reporter Daphne Eviatar, would violate the human rights of its people and international law.

To be legitimate, according to one lawyer she quotes, any privatization of what the government of Iraq owns “must be developed, adopted, supported and implemented by the Iraqi people.”  The goods in a nation ought to be, as socialism demands, collectively owned and their value ought to be politically redistributed.

But if and when this is done collectively through a government body such as a legislature, as Americans know from bitter experience, those in government almost never want to return property they control to the private sector or to the people.. (The most common exception is when key government officials get personally enriched by doing so.)

Free-market capitalism and privatization in Iraq would be “threatening and potentially exploitative,” according to Georgetown University Professor of Arab Politics Samer Shehata. 

But capitalism is merely human freedom applied to economics. To impose socialism on Iraqis would lock them back into many of the same chains they wore under Saddam. A large part of liberation for Iraq ought to mean not only free speech and free thought but also free markets, low taxes and a society based on private property. 

President George W. Bush aims to make liberated Iraq a shining alternative to Islamist fanaticism in the volatile Middle East. To become such an attractive alternative, Iraq must be both free and successful. Socialism, as a century of worldwide experience has shown, impedes both individual freedom and economic success.

The Fertile Crescent has thus become fertile soil – indeed, a testing ground – for today’s Right-Left economic struggle inside the United States. Republican President Bush is replacing socialism in Iraq with privatization, and the reconstruction authority there has replaced unfair, unequal taxation with the level playing field of a flat tax. He sadly has had less success enacting such liberating policies in the U.S.

Not only neighboring Muslim rulers but also Leftists in Great Britain and the United States are fearful that success in liberated Iraq as a laboratory example of democratic free-market capitalism will put pressure on them to accept more political and economic freedom.

While experts debate whether Islam is compatible with democracy, few knowledgeable people doubt Islam’s compatibility with Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations,” Austrian economics, and capitalism.

As Imad Ahmad writes at the pro-capitalist Muslim website Minaret.org, both the Prophet Muhammad and his first wife Khadija were merchants. The Koran is filled with parables in the language of trade.

“It was merchants, not soldiers,” writes Ahmad, “who were mainly responsible for the spread of Islam throughout the world.” As this column has noted, Muslim merchants invented commercial bank drafts, called in Arabic Sakk, the origin of our word “check.”

“The rising tide of Islam today is in part a reaction against the Arab socialism that has destroyed the markets of the Muslim world,” writes Ahmad. “One cannot be a Muslim and opposed to freedom of enterprise….”

So by restoring capitalism and terminating socialism in Iraq, President Bush is freeing its Muslim population to be Muslim, to live again in the free market tradition of the Prophet and Koran. We are not violating Iraqi rights, as the Leftist New York Times would have Americans believe, but restoring those traditional Islamic economic rights stolen by Saddam Hussein and his socialist Ba’athist Party.

To thwart such liberation, the head of the private, taxpayer-funded National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), chaired by Clinton Administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, is pushing its own red Trojan Horse.

Albright is pressing to win ever-more United States aid and financial assistance for the Communist Party of Iraq. The daughter of a diplomat from then-Communist Czechoslovakia, Albright argues that the Communists are the best organized and most secular (i.e., atheist) political party in democratizing Iraq and could anchor an anti-theocratic bloc of other parties in the new Iraqi legislature.

The Communists, Albright believes, might be the key to stability in a democratic Iraq after Americans start pulling out this summer. A bevy of mid-level Clinton leftovers in the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) in Iraq are cooperating with Albright and giving whatever aid, U.S. taxpayer dollars and comfort they can to Iraq’s Communist Party.

But the Iraqi Communist Party is no friend of the United States, writes J. Michael Waller in the February 17th issue of Insight on the News, magazine of the Washington Times newspaper. Long a tool of the Soviet Union, the Iraqi Communist Party aims to eject American influence from Iraq as rapidly as possible, and to criticize and oppose most U.S. policies.

These Iraqi Communists are working to block privatization and capitalism, favoring instead a state-run oil company and other collectivist enterprises. They have said clearly they will remain peaceful only so long as it serves the party’s Marxist-socialist goals. By strengthening and funding Iraqi Communists, America would indeed be weakening both liberty and democracy over the long term in Iraq.

The same Leftist Democratic leaders in the U.S. who support Iraqi Communists also chant that President Bush is stupid, short-sighted, a pawn serving global oil companies and other selfish interests out to build an American empire.

One of America’s greatest scholars has a much higher opinion of President Bush. In March, Harvard Press will release “Surprise, Security, and the American Experience” by Yale University military and naval historian John Lewis Gaddis.

Only a few times in our history has a President shown the greatness of mind and breadth of vision to propound a “Grand Strategy” to shape America’s foreign policy for decades to come, writes Gaddis. President James Monroe and his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams did so after the British burned the White House in 1814 – accelerating our territorial expansion to make America secure against foreign invasion.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt did so with the Marshall Plan, writes Gaddis, to keep Europe capitalist and hence peaceful after a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor brought us into World War II. And since American nuclear weapons struck Japan, Europe has enjoyed the longest period of peace since the Roman Emperor Augustus reigned 2,000 years ago.

And, writes Dr. Gaddis, George W. Bush with his bold doctrine of democratizing the Middle East and preempting terrorists (who now could be armed with weapons able to kill whole cities) has brilliantly reformulated American Grand Strategy in the wake of the third attack on our soil, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In April will come another book recognizing President Bush’s bold strategic shift, replacing Europe with the Middle East and prolonged War on Terror as the new centers of American foreign policy concerns. This book from Knopf will be “Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America’s Grand Strategy in a World at Risk” by Council on Foreign Relations scholar Walter Russell Mead.

President Bush acted decisively while Democrats, as all their remaining presidential candidates have made clear, would have failed to act to defend America. These Democrats such as Senator John F. Kerry have played Monday-morning quarterback and criticized everything the President has done.

(Senator Kerry has been as shameless as he has been shameful, e.g., voting to gut America’s intelligence budget by $1.8 billion and then blaming President Bush for failing to have the information to prevent 9-11.)

Among the punishments that came with our ejection from Eden was that humankind thereafter must live by the sweat of its brow. We must take action to survive, earning the consequences of failure or success.

Leftist utopians seem troubled to live in a world with consequences, moral and practical, which is why they long for a world where the fruits of other peoples' labors can be plucked out of their pockets by the lazy and parasitic among us.

No wonder they hate the Bible’s Book of Genesis, capitalism, property, and all the other yardsticks of justice that have kept humankind alive since Eden. 


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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