Harvard Expert Advises Cheney On Iraq Policy
Director of Iraq Project says Bush foreign policy team is divided
As the U.S. government considers policy options toward Iraq, members of the Bush administration as high as Vice President Dick Cheney have consulted IRDP’s director to guide the diplomatic and democratization effort.
Kanan M. Makiya, an associate of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, started and currently heads the project, which collects and analyzes Iraqi government records that document human rights violations, mass murder and chemical weapon usage.
On Friday, Cheney met with Makiya, an Iraqi expatriate who was born in Baghdad and currently serves as an adjunct professor of Middle Eastern politics at Brandeis University.
Makiya said that while the White House and Department of Defense under Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld are in favor of democratizing Iraq, other officials within the Bush administration prefer an unspecified alternative policy.
“I have met with all kinds of senior government officials,” Makiya said.
Based on his conversations, he said, it seems the administration’s direction has gotten “fuzzier” on this issue.
Makiya explained that opponents of democratization believe that the process would destabilize the entire Persian Gulf region and that the U.S. would need to rely excessively on rebel groups in Iraq.
In the past few months, the Bush administration has stated interest in democratizing Iraq. Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice have each publicly addressed democratization.
“Our goal would be an Iraq that has territorial integrity, a government that is democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic and religious group are recognized and protected,” Cheney said in an Aug. 26 address to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
A few weeks ago, Rice told London’s Financial Times that the U.S. is “completely devoted” to nation-building and reconstruction in Iraq.
Makiya and his colleagues have prepared a proposal he calls a “road map” for democratization for the state department’s Democratic Principles Workshop and its “Future of Iraq Initiative.”
Makiya has been in contact with the department’s key Iraq policy advisor, Ryan Crocker, who has served as a U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Qatar.
Neither Crocker nor Cheney’s office returned phone calls from The Crimson yesterday.
Makiya’s proposal, which was presented in rough draft form to Cheney last Friday, will be formally submitted at the end of November to the Conference of Iraqi Opposition—an organization of expatriate Iraqis who are opposed to Saddam Hussein’s government.
“There is an interest in democratizing, and the question is how to get it,” Makiya said. “It has been expressly left to Iraqis to figure out.... [Our report] may not be what the [U.S.] government wanted, but it’s what leading Iraqis for democracy want.”
The report will not be available for public review until it is presented to the conference in November.
Makiya has written prolifically on the subject of his birthplace. He said his first two books, Republic of Fear (1989) and The Monument (1991), were written under the pseudonym “Samir al-Khalil” out of fear for his and his family’s livelihood. Republic of Fear became a best-seller after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
Makiya began authoring books under his real name in 1993. He said that his life has never been threatened.
Makiya left Iraq to study architecture at MIT and later designed and built projects in the Middle East. In 1981, he left architecture and began to write.
In 1991, Makiya went to Iraq to inspect documents seized by rebels. The BBC film crew that accompanied him produced an award-winning documentary about his investigation.
In the late-1990s, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations granted Makiya and IRDP access to a complete database of Iraqi Secret Police documents.
—Staff writer Justin D. Gest can reached at email@example.com.