The End of Saddam and the Future of Iraq

author: Kanan Makiya, Brandeis University
published: Jan. 28, 2013,   recorded: January 2004,   views: 2212

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Saddam Hussein left a very visible legacy from 30 bloody years in power: countless victims and a broken nation. But there is also a more obscure inheritance, literally mountains of documents left by the Ba’ath Party and security groups. Kanan Makiya’s mission is to retrieve and index these materials, and make public the comprehensive corruption of the old regime. These are not just precise and voluminous records of an oppressive state, says Makiya. These are stories of ordinary Iraqis. Everyday survival meant spying on or betraying family and friends. Even graduating from high school depended on proving loyalty to the state. So it is not a simple matter of determining who did what to whom. “All Iraqis participated and were complicit in the regime. That is what the archives show,” Makiya says. He believes that nation-building will be possible only after all Iraqis admit their responsibility for the country’s disrepair. He is seeking a “form of cathartic social release that will have political consequences.” But Makiya acknowledges enormous challenges to achieving this goal, as the U.S. prepares to withdraw from a lawless, fragmented Iraq -- having set in motion the large tasks of holding elections and drafting a constitution.

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