March 28, 2005
Terrorism isn’t the biggest problem in Iraq, nor is political instability or the high crime rate. All of those are easy to solve compared to the biggest, and most persistent problem; corruption. Lack of fair and efficient government has been a problem in this region for thousands of years. When the officials were honest and efficient, mighty empires flourished. But most of the time, the bureaucrats are on the take, and everyone suffered. It’s been going on for so long that it’s been accepted as the way things are. But one of the unexpected side effects of global communications (especially email and satellite news) is that most Iraqis now know that it doesn’t have to be that way. To reinforce these heretical views, visitors, or migrants, to these distant lands of honest government, come back and tell wondrous tales of cops who are not crooks, and politicians going to jail for taking bribes.
But the current reality in Iraq is that of thieves getting back into power. . . . While many Iraqis are willing to pay any price for peace and quiet, and many others are willing to accept intimidation, an increasing number are willing to put their lives on the line for clean government. People know that this will eventually bring rule of law and safety. But first, it’s a fight to the death between groups of Iraqis who have very different views of Iraq’s future. A happy ending is not assured. If enough Iraqis do not step up for honest government, the country will end up with another Saddam.
Another reason not to bug out too soon, as the article notes that the presence of Coalition troops, and investigators, is key to bringing corruption under control.