November 24, 2003

THIS MUST BE MAKING SOME PEOPLE NERVOUS:

In the end, after the secret investigations, the middle-of-the-night arrests, the obsequious genuflections to Saddam Hussein, a common passion drove these members of Iraq’s Baath Party to excel at their special occupation. It was all about the money. . . .

Kanan Makiya, a Brandeis University professor and author, said he stumbled upon the records last summer while trying to save a monument to the party’s founder, Michel Aflaq, that was scheduled for demolition. A few years ago, the United States gave Mr. Makiya custody of another large trove of Iraqi documents seized in Kuwait and northern Iraq after the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and so he won permission from the occupation authorities to take custody of the new papers as well.

Mr. Makiya intends to share them with the public by opening a museum and archive that he calls the Memory Foundation. The Americans plan to give him some of the financing for the project, and he is soliciting the rest.

I hope that there will be an archive of Western political and commercial (and journalistic) payoffs, too.