CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Interview with Fawaz Gerges
Aired October 7, 2002 - 12:56 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If Saddam Hussein and his long- standing regime were to be overthrown, what would happen inside Iraq? Our guest cautions against expecting too much change too soon.
Joining us now is Fawaz Gerges, professor of international affairs at Sarah Lawrence college. He's author of a forthcoming and very important book "The Islamists and the West" -- Fawaz, thanks for joining us. You don't believe we should be holding our breath waiting for a democratic regime to emerge in Baghdad?
FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: Well, Wolf, how do you democratize a fractious country entrapped in a prolonged ethnic, religious and political conflict? How do you reconnect the estranged communities in Iraq and, particularly, the three communities, the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites, who have been estranged from each other, thanks to the divisive official policies of the Iraqi state. Civil society has now been crushed, and the middle class decimated, thanks to the U.N.-led inspections that have been imposed on Iraq since 1991. The building blocks...
BLITZER: You mean sanctions?
GERGES: Absolutely. The building blocks and the institutions necessary for a functioning polity, let alone a democracy, do not exist.
BLITZER: So let me interrupt, Fawaz, and ask you, what advice would you have to the U.S. military, the U.S. political leadership if, in fact, the war is short, relatively quick, and they have to put together some sort of new regime there. What's your advice to them?
GERGES: This is a very highly complex question. I think the easiest part of the question is really toppling Saddam Hussein. The difficult part is really what do you do after the day, the morning after? The point I'm really trying to suggest, here, is that Iraq is a highly complex and fragmented society. And I think its blood-soaked political history should make anyone, including American officials, wary of the task of either establishing a peaceful order or, in fact, bringing democracy into Iraq. I think what we need to have is, particularly for American policymakers, is to develop what I call a sense of humility and skepticism about the prospects for a peaceful order after toppling Saddam Hussein.
BLITZER: Is it possible -- do you fear that Iraq could crumble into a Kurdish state in the north, a Sunni state in the central, a Shiite state in the south? Or is something even beyond that? GERGES: Well, Wolf, I believe that, initially, liberating Baghdad would unleash a joy in the streets of Iraq, throughout Iraq. That the Iraqis will be elated to be free out of this particular tyranny. The question is, of course, as we understand, unless the United States is willing to forcefully police the new order in Baghdad, I think the country will likely fracture and descend into chaos, subverting its neighbors, in particular Saudi Arabia and other countries, and of course, giving rise to new jihadi elements that will be dedicated to attacking American interests. So it all depends on whether the United States will be determined to forcefully police the new order in Baghdad, the day after the toppling Saddam Hussein.
BLITZER: Fawaz Gerges, thanks for that information. We'll be looking forward to that new book that should be coming out, shortly.
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