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Iraq Economic Reform: Lessons Learned from Central Europe and Eurasia

Recorded on June 11, 2003

The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Center

Iraq is facing severe economic hardship. The rule of law, fundamental economic reform, a stable currency, and massive privatization will be needed to pull the country out of its post-Saddam morass. Nowhere have economic liberalization and privatization been attempted on a wider scale than in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. After over a decade of trial and error, victories and setbacks, much can be learned from the post-communist experience.

Can Iraq, ruled for decades with an iron fist by the national socialist dictator Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath party, benefit from the road taken by the former "captive nations"? What are the planks of reform; the right sequencing and timing for key milestones to be attained; the pitfalls that need to be avoided; the cultural sensitivities to keep in mind; the communication strategies to be pursued, to make the Iraqi transformation a success?

The quest for a stable Iraq is becoming even more pertinent as U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia are under attack.