ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Now a view of the future of Iraq from a leading opposition figure. We're talking this week with several prominent dissidents who hold differing opinions of what their country should look like in, say, five or 10 years' time. Today, Kanan Makiya--he is deeply involved in drafting the opposition's plans for Iraq following the possible overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the ruling Ba'athist Party. Makiya is working on a statement of democratic principles, a blueprint for a transition to democracy. The statement will be considered at a conference of some 300 opposition figures from different movements, tentatively set for December 10th in London.
Kanan Makiya says that many points in the statement will be debated then, but there is consensus, he says, on one point: Iraq, with its large Arab Shiite population in the south and its non-Arab Kurdish minority in the north, should adopt a federal system.
Professor KANAN MAKIYA (Brandeis University): The overwhelming majority of opinion has already moved on towards federalism. Where I think much of the discussion would take place would be what kind of a federalism it was. And the document lays out different types of federalisms and argues for and against some of them. But he doesn't get into the level of detail that suggests, you know, what the precise contours of such a federal state. It leaves that for the transitional period.
SIEGEL: One of the big questions for the future of Iraq and, of course, this is still all very hypothetical, but assuming that there is a change of regime, a big question is: What happens to the figures of the old regime, and what constitutes being a member of the old regime? Would the Iraqi approach, do you think, be like that of Nelson Mandela's government toward the people who maintained apartheid, which is essentially let's document what happened here and not deal in too many recriminations and prosecutions...
Prof. MAKIYA: Right
. SIEGEL: ...or would it be a Nuremberg system, or would it be a Russian system of here's a guy who was big in the KGB, he'll now be the president of the country?
Prof. MAKIYA: Hopefully, we'll be either the--it will be closer to the South African one than the Russian one. That's at least the sort of view that emerges out of this document. We take two things, though, very seriously. There'll be one part of it that is closer to, say, the German experience after World War II. We have a whole section devoted to what we term de-Ba'athification of Iraq, which is modeled in some ways on the de-Nazification of Germany. That is not necessarily a process that is about punishing people, but it is a process about looking carefully into the membership of the Ba'ath Party and those who had to do so to get on in life, basically, because the two million or so members of the Ba'ath Party overwhelmingly are people who had no choice but to enter the party. And where membership in the Ba'ath Party was connected to crimes of some kind or another. And so he has, let's say, those most directly criminally associated with the actions of the regime towards its own people and internationally in the various wars that Iraq has waged would be tried by, we hope, an international tribunal.
SIEGEL: So the model for de-Ba'athification, the kind of de-Nazification that you look to, is very much the Nuremberg model and later perhaps the American model, not, say, the Soviet model, which was...
Prof. MAKIYA: Yes.
SIEGEL: ...also de-Nazification in the eastern sector of Germany.
Prof. MAKIYA: Yes. Except that it will be coupled to what we think was a very positive experience of South Africa. There will be a truth and reconciliation process and there would be an amnesty connected with truth and reconciliation, which may be a general amnesty or it may be a conditional one depending on the sort of depth of the truth telling told. We do consider it very important to have whatever amnesty is given linked to a complete exposure of the history of what happened in Iraq so that never again--I mean, so that the history of the country, the way in which it educates its own children in the future about what happened during this period, all of these questions will become impossible ever to avoid.
SIEGEL: In the future Iraq that you describe, you would be--if it works, yours would be the most democratic society or more democratic than nearly all the countries surrounding it.
Prof. MAKIYA: It's a great ambition. It's a truly--yes. The answer is simply yes. And it would be a kind of role model for the region. But, of course, we're not thinking beyond the borders of Iraq. And we've got an unbelievable task ahead of us to make it succeed in Iraq. But if it works--and there are many objective reasons which say it could work--we need this kind of help that we have, I must say, been getting recently that allows civil society to come alive again in Iraq. It needs to be protected, if you like, like an infant in swaddling clothes from the parties. I fear the parties. To allow civil society to come to life inside Iraq tomorrow, we will have to keep those parties at bay. Keep the parties inside a structure that is larger than them, that is full of independence and others so as to get the kind of breathing space for independence, which is what civil society is all about.
SIEGEL: Let me just pursue that for a second, though.
Prof. MAKIYA: Yes.
SIEGEL: You say there should be in the new regime in Iraq some breathing space in which the country is not given over to the rival parties...
Prof. MAKIYA: Yes.
SIEGEL: ...to bring their very narrow agendas to perhaps undo democracy.
Prof. MAKIYA: Well...
SIEGEL: How could you have democracy without political parties vying for power?
Prof. MAKIYA: Oh, no, I'm not trying to have no political parties. Let's also make a very important distinction here. Kurdish political parties represent real constituencies. They have had 11 years or so experience inside northern Iraq. That doesn't apply to Arab Iraq. Arab Iraq parties--all parties are outside of Iraq by the very nature of the system that exists there. To assume that these parties are much more powerful than they really are is to--is what worries me. I mean, various organizations, like the CIA, today is trying very hard to work with--these days I have to be cautious about naming names, but let's say Islamist parties, ex-Ba'athist parties, that on the basis that these will be needed in the post-Saddam Iraq, I think that is shortsighted. These parties used to be inside the Iraqi National Congress and there was a space for them to be balanced off, so to speak, by the very large number of other people who were there. Encouraging them to work alone at the expense of the Iraqi National Congress as an umbrella organization was, I think, a mistake that is today being rethought in Washington.
SIEGEL: I just have one other question about the future.
Prof. MAKIYA: Yes.
SIEGEL: And that is, three years down the road, five years down the road, where are the Americans in all this? Where are the US forces that made war against Saddam Hussein's army and defeated him?
Prof. MAKIYA: Well, I see them as dwindling in numbers as the situation stabilizes and as the army is reformed and the law and order services are reformed, and dwindling to the point of them no longer being necessary. By about four or five years hopefully the threats to Iraq that might emanate from some of the surrounding countries would no longer be real, Iraq's ability to deal with them would have been established and that presence will no longer be needed. Never do we in this report envisage any American troops policing the cities of Iraq. That's an important point to add.
SIEGEL: Kanan Makiya, thank you very much for talking with us today.
Prof. MAKIYA: Thank you, Robert.
SIEGEL: Kanan Makiya. His writings on Iraq include the books "Republic of Fear" and "Cruelty and Silence."
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