Germany, Japan and the De-Baathification of Iraq; Strategic Insights: v.2, issue 3 (March 2003)
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Given the World War II analogy that apparently guides U.S. policy for a transition to a stable, democratic, post-Saddam Iraq, what lessons might American policymakers draw from our nation-building experience in post-1945 Germany and Japan? The Bush administration's goal is to disarm Iraq. But it must make certain that Iraq never again troubles the stability of the Persian Gulf region. For this to happen, Saddam's ambitions to lead the Arab world in the liberation of Jerusalem must be utterly discredited, both in the eyes of his own people and of the world, especially the Arab world. This will probably require, as in Germany and Japan after 1945, an unambiguous military defeat of Baathist Iraq, followed by war crimes trials. The risk for the United States is that defeat, trials and a politique of public shaming may make Iraqis less, not more, receptive to a democratization process because Saddam has already effectively de-Baathicized his own people. Saddam's organizations of repressive state power must certainly be exorcised. In both post-war German and Japan, however the Allies discovered that, even though freed from SS, Gestapo, Kemptai and party supervision, entrenched government bureaucracies, in which alumni of the defunct ancient régimes continued to exercise their authority, remained wedded to authoritarian methods and hence proved remarkably resistant to the imposition of democratic ideas and practices.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (March 2003), v.2 no.3
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