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March 08, 1991 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

W A R '

E N D

U.S. Aid to
Iraq Would
Encourage
Democracy

COMMENT

An Arab-American leader
says economic incentives
may lead to a kinder,
gentler Iraq.

Southfield
sitting in Plaza Deli

IRA RIFKIN

Special to The Jewish News

resident George Bush
compared Saddam
Hussein to Adolf
Hitler. James Zogby believes
the more accurate parallel is
between Iraq and post-World
War I Germany.
If Mr. Zogby, who is direc-
tor of the Washington-based
Arab-American Institute, is
correct, then the problem
becomes one of how best to
prevent Iraq from becoming
a Middle East version of the
German Weimar Republic —
the classic example of fester-
ing national anger and
humiliation leading to polit-
ical extremism and even
deadlier conflict.
Whether or not Saddam
Hussein remains in power,

p

Ira Rifkin is an assistant
editor of the Baltimore Jewish
Times.

Iraq faces a monumental
rebuilding task that will
take tens of billions of
dollars.
President Bush has al-
ready said that "at this point
(he) does not want to see a
single dime" of U.S. tax
dollars go toward rebuilding
Iraq in view of that nation's
vast oil potential.
However, Mr. Zogby be-
lieves the better course is to
be magnanimous and offer
U.S. aid as an incentive to
nudge Iraq down the long
road to democracy — a form
of government unknown in
the Middle East save for
Israel, Turkey and, to a
lesser degree, Egypt.
"You encourage people to
moderation by being nice,"
said Mr. Zogby, a first gener-
ation Lebanese American,
who spoke last week at a
Johns Hopkins University
forum in Baltimore. "Use a
little mother's wisdom; a

James Zogby: U.S. should help rebuild Iraq.

Sylvia Dubin

"Yes, because Israel is no
longer in any danger of
being attacked by Iraqi
scuds. I also think it
made Bush rise in the
eyes of the world. I feel all
this effort was worth it
even if it detracted atten-
tion from our domestic
problems."

little honey gets you more
than vinegar."
Mr. Zogby's viewpoint is
widespread among Arab-
American leaders, and ap-
pears to be gaining momen-
tum elsewhere among those
who see the war's aftermath
as a golden opportunity for
encouraging democracy in
Iraq and elsewhere in the
Arab world.
Egypt's President Hosni
Mubarak has said he. favors
such an approach, and a New
York Times editorial last
week suggested that
America "has every reason
to proclaim and promote
democratic values" in the
region by conditioning U.S.
aid "on respect for basic
rights."
Mr. Zogby believes this
approach is the key to
stabilizing the Middle East.
Stabilize Iraq and you
stabilize the Persian Gulf,
he explained. Stabilize the
Gulf and you've taken a big
step toward stabilizing the
entire Arab world — which,
in turn, helps in a major way
to defuse the Israeli-
Palestinian and Israeli-Arab
conflicts.
(Mr. Zogby said he sup-
ports a secure Israel and an
independent Palestinian
state in the occupied ter-
ritories.)
"Iraq is not Panama or
Grenada," Mr. Zogby said.
"It's a Third World country,
,„ but it's extraordinarily
1 7
blessed with oil, agricultural
a ; output and an educated
population. It's not a charity
0- _case; it's an investment. Iraq
has the raw materials to

restore itself and again be a
player."
But with no democratic
tradition, Iraqis — like
Germans after World War I
— have little choice but to
follow the lead of military
strongmen such as Saddam.
"The problem in Iraq, as
well as other Arab nations,"
said Mr. Zogby, is that "we
don't have citizens, we have
subjects."
Offering Iraq economic
"peace incentives" en-
courages the establishment
of new, progressively-
oriented institutions that,
hopefully, would alter Iraqi
political structure, he said.
He added that given the
vast sums that will be spent
on rebuilding Iraq, private

companies and other
governments will leap at the
opportunity to earn a profit
or curry political favor in
ways that might not support
U.S. aims.
Mr. Zogby maintained that
this sort of "haphazard"
reconstruction is potentially
dangerous. "The point is
how do we shape that aid
and use it for our political
purposes," he said.
But might the Iraqis look
upon such aid as a form of
economic imperialism?
"It's not a question of
economic imperialism," Mr.
Zogby replied. "It's a ques-
tion of creating a fund that
gives the Iraqi people a feel-
ing that they have alter-
natives." ❑

Life Returns
To Normal,
And So Do
The Problems

Scud attacks were
terrifying, but an escape
from Israel's usual
dilemmas.

INA FRIEDMAN

Special to The Jewish News

I

n a very real sense, Israel
is finding it hard to
return to the sort of
"normal" life that existed
prior to the Persian Gulf
war.
As terrifying as repeated
Scud missile attacks were,
they did provide Israelis six
weeks of escape — or at least
sustained relief — from the
usual fare of intifada, econ-
omic recession, record
unemployment, the housing
crunch, the problems of ab-
sorbing tens of thousands
of Soviet immigrants — and
the grating and incessant
political bickering that
characterizes public life in
the Jewish state.
Nothing seemed to matter
but the war. When it ended,
so did the "holiday."
Returning to normal life is
proving to be difficult.

Despite the urgency of the
ongoing issues, attention
remains focused on military
matters, which for Israelis
have a familiar and almost
comforting ring about them.
The press is filled with ar-
ticles about the need to
overhaul Israel's civil
defense program to fit the
age of missile warfare, the
seductive power of "smart"
weapons — which Israelis
now collectively call
"video"— and the temp-
tation to go on a shopping
spree to update the country's
arsenals.
The 39 missiles that fell on
the country during the war
have created a sense of
vulnerability unmatched
since the days before 1967.
Thirteen Israelis died as a
result of the Gulf War. One
was killed in a direct hit on
his home. The rest died of
sheer terror — which
precipitated heart attacks,
the fatal use of atropine in-

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

31

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