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June 27, 2005
Jaafari Calls Europe To Pay It Forward

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari writes a lengthy call for Europe to step up to the plate in today's Times of London, regarding Iraqi reconstruction after its establishment of Western-style democracy. Invoking the Marshall Plan that rescued the Continent after the devastation of two World Wars, Jaafari pleads with a revitalized Europe to now adopt Iraq and the Middle East the way America adopted Germany and Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II:

Marshall said: Our policy is not directed against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Today is the time for a new international Marshall plan towards Iraq and the broader Middle East directed not for or against any policy but against ignorance, tyranny, hatred and anarchy.

Marshall repaired the decaying infrastructure of Germany after six years of war and 12 years of Nazi rule. In Iraq we have had nearly 40 years of fascist rule and have been in practice at war for half that time. I have seen throughout Iraq the marks of economic collapse and depredation this has left. Iraq today has few English speakers, it has hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers trained for nothing but war, and its universities which once enjoyed a worldwide reputation now lag behind those in the rest of the region. It has debts totalling hundreds of billions of dollars and there has been no investment in its infrastructure for more than 20 years.

Three generations of Iraqis have grown up under a dictatorship, learning to take orders but not take initiatives or responsibility, and educated in religious and political hatred and isolationism. My people are a strong people: their will survived. The marks of Saddams brutal and divisive rule, however, will take time to heal. Many of my people, as well as soldiers from the multinational force, are still being killed by terrorism.

The way will not always be easy. I am confident, though, that the prosperous democracies of the world will be as far-sighted today as Marshall was in 1947. Much blood had to be shed, and money spent, before peace was achieved in Europe. In Iraq the fight for democracy has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. In the long run, however, it can secure centuries of peace and prosperity. Iraqs fight against terrorist networks and training camps, and the poverty and ignorance that supply them, has become the worlds fight for the security of humanity.

While Jaafari writes powerfully, its effect on Europe's leaders will be minimal at best. The question of Iraq has become, for Europe, so reflexively tied to George Bush that raising more than the minimal assistance now grudgingly given will be almost impossible. It would be analogous to George Marshall proposing his historic plan to rebuild Europe after the United States remained neutral in World War II, having heeded Charles Lindbergh and the German-American Bund. The isolationists and flat-earthers would have said, "Let Europe fix Europe with its own resources."

Of course, such an action would have been terribly short-sighted, as would have been neutrality in WWII. Putting Europe back on its feet was definitely a vital interest of America, especially in the face of Soviet expansion on the Continent, but also to ensure that democracy maintained its primary status for Western thought. That had been questioned during the Depression, and a European war without American involvement would have been seen as the nadir of democracy. The false dichotomy of a future divided between Communism and fascism would have gained tremendous credibility, and it well could have undermined the American system eventually.

Now Europe faces the choice that American interventionism made so obvious in the late 1940s. After abandoning Iraq to Saddam Hussein through the corruption of Oil-For-Food and the obstinacy of France and Russia to enforce sixteen UNSC resolutions, the people of Iraq nonetheless have emerged triumphant with a democratic government and the seeds of stability and prosperity on Europe's doorstep. Europe must decide whether to continue in its blinkered obstinacy or to pursue its long-term interest in Southwest Asia.

George Marshall and America rescued Europe from its prostrate status after the two world wars it provoked. Now Europe should pay it forward by helping Iraq off the mat after a war it should have helped fight in the first place.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 27, 2005 6:29 AM

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Tracked on June 27, 2005 10:08 AM

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