Iraq: June 30, 2004


The Arab-American marine held by Iraqi terrorists, and threatened with death, had apparently deserted and was attempting to return to family members still living in Lebanon. The marine, corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, was upset at seeing another marine killed by a mortar shell and wanted out of the combat zone. He asked Iraqis working on his base to help him get out of Iraq and to Lebanon. But these "fellow Moslems" betrayed (or, more likely, sold) him to Islamic terrorists. This pervasive corruption and lack of civic responsibility, and not the criminal, religious and ethnic violence, are the real obstacles to progress in Iraq. The corruption destroys attempts to build and sustain economic growth, and makes it possible for tyrants to seize control of the government. This is common throughout the Arab world, and only in the last few years have Arab journalists and pundits dared to speak out on the subject. American advisers have been hammering away on the subject to members of the new Iraqi government, with limited success. The concept of  corruption as a right, and not a threat to civic responsibility, is seen as normal by many Iraqis, or something that cannot be changed, or something that would lead to greater evils if serious attempts were made to change it. However, the history of economic progress in the last century clearly shows that the least corrupt cultures prosper the most. Iraq will have a hard time overcoming it's other problems if it does not make a serious attempt to stop the stealing of public funds, and making decisions based on personal gain. 


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