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Postwar Iraq

She is co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She will discuss many of the questions surrounding reconstruction in Iraq, such as the role of the United Nations and Iraqi exiles, the distribution of construction contracts, and the cost of reconstruction.

35:08

Other segments from the episode on April 9, 2003

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, April 9, 2003: Interview with Bathsheba Crocker; Interview with Laurent de Brunhoff; Review of two music albums Albums "The colored section" and "A woman like me."

Transcript

DATE April 9, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Bathsheba Crocker discusses reconstruction in Iraq
TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Many experts have warned that winning the war in Iraq may be a lot easier than
winning the peace. My guest, Bathsheba Crocker, co-directs the Post-Conflict
Reconstruction Project for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
She's one of the authors of their report A Wiser Peace, which proposes a
strategy for post-conflict Iraq. The report is a collaboration between the
center and the Association of the United States Army.

One of the questions surrounding postwar Iraq is what role the UN will play.
Yesterday, President Bush, speaking at a press conference with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, said that the UN would play a vital role in postwar Iraq.
When asked to elaborate, he said, `That means food, medicine and aid.' I
asked Bathsheba Crocker about her understanding of the role the Bush
administration wants the UN to have in postwar Iraq.

Ms. BATHSHEBA CROCKER (Co-Director, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project): I
think the only thing we know for certain is that the United States wants the
UN to have a role on the humanitarian front. Anything beyond that is a little
open to question. They have certainly said the UN has an important role to
play, that they should play some sort of an advisory role, that they have a
role to play in endorsing an interim authority. President Bush, when
questioned about that, went so far as to say that the UN might be asked to
suggest people to make up an Iraqi interim authority, but does not seem to be
going as far as some might like to say that the United Nations should actually
be in charge of running some sort of a conference to choose an Iraqi interim
authority.

GROSS: What's behind the division between the United States, that wants to
limit the role of the United Nations, and some of the other countries, like
France, for instance, which would like to see the UN play a larger role in the
future of Iraq? What are those different points of view? What's behind that
difference?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, I think from the US side, there's probably some bad
feelings left over from the fight at the UN leading up to the war itself and a
great deal of reluctance to have to go back to the UN Security Council and
request authorization for postwar activities. I think there's a real sense
that doing so will slow down the postwar efforts, which I think is a
legitimate concern. I think also there is a big concern that, because of
interests by particularly the French and the Russians in terms of oil and
their outstanding oil contracts, turning questions such as `What happens to
the future of Iraqi oil over to the United Nations?' might get quite
complicated.

The Bush administration is now saying that decisions about Iraqi oil should be
made by Iraqis, which is, of course, a laudable goal and something that I
would agree with. But the question is before we get to that point, should it
be the UN or the US overseeing the oil industry?

From the side of others, such as the French and the Germans and the Russians,
I think in large part this is a question of whether the UN will provide needed
legitimacy that will help them as a political matter in their own countries.
Because their populations are so anti this war effort, and the governments
obviously were, too, I think there is a real feeling that they need the
international stamp of legitimacy that UN involvement would bring. And, of
course, without taking these things to the UN, the French and the German and
the Russians and others will not have much of a say about what happens in a
postwar phase in Iraq. And I think that's obviously a large concern for them
as well.

GROSS: It's not only other countries that are conflicted with the United
States over what the role of the UN should be in the future of Iraq. There
seems to be a division within the Bush administration about that, the State
Department vs. the Pentagon. What are those divisions about regarding the UN?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, I think from the point of view from the State Department,
there is a acknowledgement that if we take the discussions of the postwar
phase to the UN, we will be able to make a bit of headway in mending our
relations with our friends and allies and in mending our relations with others
on the UN Security Council. And I think also, from the State Department side,
there is a concern that, if we don't go that route, the Defense Department
will have a very big say in how things play out in Iraq over the next few
months, including perhaps in choosing members of the Iraqi interim authority.
And there is actually a great deal of division among various Bush
administration officials over the question of, for example, the legitimacy of
Ahmed Chalabi, who is the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, who has some
friends in the Defense Department and is not so well-liked in the State
Department.

GROSS: Jay Garner has been appointed by the Pentagon to head the Pentagon's
Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq. He's a retired
Army lieutenant general and he will report to General Tommy Franks, the
commander of CENTCOM. What is the role that's expected he will play in Iraq?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, interestingly, it hasn't been described all that much in
detail. He has canceled numerous scheduled appearances before the press,
including most recently on Monday. So we haven't had much of an opportunity
to hear described what his role will be. But in general what they've said is
that he will be coordinating reconstruction and humanitarian assistance and
that his office will play a big role in vetting Iraqi officials, so in vetting
government ministries and institutions in Iraq to rid them of the most extreme
Saddam loyalists.

They have said that General Garner's office will be in the country not for a
very long period of time and, in fact, again on Tuesday it was reported that
he might perhaps only be there for about 90 days, after which period things
would be turned over to the Iraqi interim authority.

GROSS: Jay Garner will be reporting to General Tommy Franks, the commander of
CENTCOM, so he's reporting to the military. What's the significance of that,
that he's a Pentagon appointee, not a State Department one, and he's reporting
to the military?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, I think some people see it as being quite significant,
and I think it doesn't help if one goal here is to avoid the appearance of a
military occupation. Again, things are a little fuzzy on this matter because,
although there have been reports that General Garner will report to Tommy
Franks, early press reports this week have suggested that perhaps Franks will
be in charge for some period of time and then things will be turned over to a
civil administration that will be made up of General Garner's team and the
Iraqi interim authority. So it may now be anticipated that after a certain
period of time when things are stabilized he will no longer report through
Tommy Franks. But, for now, one has to assume that he continues to do that.
And although he is a retired Army general, the fact that he had some past
affiliation with the military obviously sort of lends a further appearance
that this is a Pentagon-driven effort and looks more like a US military
occupation. And I think that is quite troubling if one of our goals here is
to avoid that appearance, which I think it should be.

GROSS: Well, what are your other concerns about avoiding the look or the
reality of this being a military occupation in Iraq?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, I think there is a great deal of concern about how that
will be received, not only by Iraqis within the country, which is perhaps the
most important consideration here, but throughout the region and in the rest
of the world. There is--I do not think that the Europeans are going to look
very favorably upon an extended US--what looks like an extended US military
occupation. It might cause problems for the UN as well. And, in fact,
various UN officials have said this week that it will be very difficult for
them to go in and play any considerable role if what they're really doing is
assisting a US military occupation.

But stepping back for a moment to address the question of the Iraqis again,
as we've seen so far in the war effort, the reception to the coalition forces
has been mixed. In some places we have seen quite a warm welcome, but in most
places we actually haven't. I think that the resistance to the efforts so far
is more than we anticipated and should probably be taken as a sign that an
extended military occupation or even a short-time military occupation by the
US will be met at least with pockets of resistance if not with a high level of
resistance by the Iraqi people.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Bathsheba Crocker. She is with
the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she's part of the
Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, and she's co-authored several papers
about postwar Iraq.

One of the big questions now is who is going to lead Iraq? What are the plans
already in place to decide who will lead or how the leader will be chosen?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, the Bush administration has not said a lot about what the
plans are and I think part of the reason for that is the ongoing disputes,
both between the State Department and the Defense Department, but also that we
haven't really come to terms with what the want the UN's role to be. And we
need to have further discussions both with Tony Blair and with the other
Europeans about what the UN--and then with the UN itself about what the UN's
role should be.

So we have seen already this week Ahmed Chalabi, who is the leader of the
Iraqi National Congress, flown into southern Iraq. So he is now on the
ground. Another major Iraqi opposition figure who is sitting in Iran at the
moment has said that he will come in at some point this week. But although
there had been vague reports about a possible conference to choose leaders of
a future government or choose leaders of an interim Iraqi government, rather,
the details of any such conference have not been specified and we don't yet
know whether there even will be a conference or whether what we'll instead see
is the US coming up--working perhaps with the Iraqis, coming up with a list of
Iraqi exiles and opposition figures and people from within the country to make
up an Iraqi interim authority.

I think there is an expectation that the Iraqi interim authority will rule
together with the US civil administrators for some period of time, and during
that period of time we will see mechanisms put in place for holding elections
and that a permanent future Iraqi government will be a democratically elected
one.

GROSS: Who is the second leader who you mentioned, the one now in Iran?

Ms. CROCKER: I'm forgetting his first name. His last name is Al-Hakim, and
he is the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
That is actually the largest Iraqi opposition group. It is made up of Iraqi
Shiites. And he is currently in Iran but has said that because--I mean, I
assume he has said because Chalabi is now in the country that he will go in
sometime this week. There have, of course, been long-standing differences and
disputes among the various Iraqi opposition parties, and that is one of the
reasons that we have not seen any formal declaration of which opposition
leader may rule in Iraq--may lead an Iraqi interim authority and they were
never--although they issued some joint statements--the Iraqi opposition,
various groups, issued some joint statements leading up to the war effort,
they were never able to sort of hammer out their own differences. And so an
interesting thing that we may see as they start to move into the country is
competing claims for authority, whether over various cities in the south or
various government ministries.

GROSS: Does the leader of the Islamic revolutionary group have any
connections to the Bush administration?

Ms. CROCKER: Not that I know of, or at least not as close as Chalabi's
relations are with the Bush administration. He, in fact, although he has come
out and said he is supportive of the US-led efforts to overthrow Saddam and
therefore welcomes the US troops in the country now, that he would not welcome
a long-term US military presence in the country or a long-term US occupation
of the country, or so-called occupation anyway. And, again, I think this
raises an interesting issue once he comes into the country. He apparently has
10,000 troops or militia members under his command. He has not indicated that
he plans to fight against the American forces or the coalition forces, but it
does get back to something we were discussing earlier about the likelihood of
Iraqi resistance. And I think the longer we see a government, even an interim
government, in the country that is not accepted by Iraqis, the more we have to
worry about various groups or factions, whether of opposition groups or former
Republican Guard units, really creating problems for the US or the coalition
presence on the ground in the postwar time.

GROSS: So the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Group has thousands of
troops. What about Chalabi? Does he have supporters?

Ms. CROCKER: He does have supporters and he has gone into the country with
about 700 other opposition members. He does not, as far as I know, have
troops under his command. He is not a military leader. He has gone in,
interestingly, in a sort of military capacity because the Bush administration
has spoken of these 700 opposition members as possibly being the beginnings of
an Iraqi free army, but have also said that they will be carrying out other
duties in the south of Iraq immediately, such as translation duties, helping
to maybe smooth out some of the disputes that have--we have seen in some of
the cities like Basra and to help dole out humanitarian assistance.

GROSS: Now the leader of the Islamic revolutionary group, isn't that in a way
exactly what the Bush administration doesn't want, an Islamic revolutionary
leader heading up Iraq?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, the Bush administration has not come out explicitly and
said that. I think there is obviously some concern when you really are
talking about creating a democracy in Iraq that what could be elected in the
future is a government that may not be exactly to your liking. But that is
obviously one of the risks of setting up a true democracy in Iraq. It also
gets back to the question of how much the US wants to be involved in picking
and choosing leaders, even of an Iraqi interim authority, because it starts to
look less and less like democracy if you are calling the shots on who leads
the country.

That again is a reason I think it would be useful to have the UN running the
process of choosing an Iraqi interim authority, because I don't think it's a
good position for the United States to be in. Of course, the Shiites are the
majority population in Iraq, so I think there is a real possibility that if
you have democratic elections, you will see Shiites getting elected to the
government. Having said that, Iraq is a secular country. There is not a huge
history of fundamentalism in that country and although the Shiites are
somewhat allied with people in Iran, it's interesting to remember that in the
Iran-Iraq war, the Shiites of Iraq actually fought very staunchly on the side
of Saddam Hussein. So I think all of this is--just goes to show that we're
not exactly sure what would happen if the Shiites of Iraq got elected but it
is certainly a risk that we run by opening this country up to democracy.

GROSS: My guest is Bathsheba Crocker. She co-directs the Post-Conflict
Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Bathsheba Crocker. She co-directs the Post-Conflict
Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

We've talked a little bit about the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Group.
Let's talk a little bit about Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who has worked
closely with the Pentagon. Who is he and why is he so controversial?

Ms. CROCKER: He is somebody who left Iraq about over 40 years ago now. He
is a banker in London. He also keeps a house in Washington. He is American
educated. He went, I believe, to MIT and the University of Chicago. And he
has been indicted for fraud in Jordan, but I don't know exactly on what
charges. He has made a lot of friends in Washington over the year. He has
been a staunch proponent of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and has done a very
good job of making friends with both current members of the Bush
administration but also people on the hill. He has numerous meetings on the
hill. He is here all the time lobbying on behalf of his cause. He says that
he believes in a democratic future for Iraq and, in fact, at times has said
that all he wants to see is the overthrow of Saddam and a stable government
put into Iraq and then he will step out of politics. So his supporters cite
those statements on his behalf.

His opponents tend to be in the State Department and the CIA. I think that
people in the State Department and the CIA and parts of the White House are
very concerned about Chalabi both because he is seen as being somebody who
just has sort of sat on the outside for a long time and has made a lot of
money, so he is often criticized for sort of walking around in fancy,
expensive suits and expensive Rolex watches. I don't think that's the most
legitimate criticism. I think there is a great concern that he will not have
any legitimacy inside the country, and there's real concern in the halls of
the State Department that if you put him in a position of power and if he is
seen as being anointed by Washington in some way that he will just be a puppet
government and that he really won't have legitimacy among the Iraqi people.

GROSS: When you talk about legitimacy among the Iraqi people, the problem of
getting it might be that he hasn't lived in Iraq since the late 1950s. So
he's not really connected to the people there and hasn't been living in the
country for decades.

Ms. CROCKER: That's right. And I think because of that we just have no idea
how he will be received. He was one of the people advising the Defense
Department in the lead up to the war and part of his advice to the Defense
Department made it seem as though we, the coalition forces, would be welcomed
with open arms when we started going into the country. So I think there's
some reason to be concerned about putting too much stock in what he says will
happen on the ground in Iraq. He claims to have a lot of supporters on the
ground in Iraq, but it is not at all clear that he does and I think it's just
unfair at this point to assume one way or the other. I think it is fairer, in
part, to assume that he will be at least seen with questionable legitimacy in
the eyes of Iraqis because he has not lived through the Saddam Hussein regime
and he has been on the outside the entire time.

But because no one has really been in the country for a very long time, it is
quite possible that the other might happen and that he would be welcome just
by virtue of being an Iraqi. And so I think it's a little bit too early to
tell what his reception will be, although I do have to put some stock in the
opinion of experts on the matter that he has, at best, questionable legitimacy
inside the country.

GROSS: Let's look at another controversy surrounding the United States now,
and that is who gets the contracts for rebuilding Iraq. What is the process
the United States is using now to make that decision?

Ms. CROCKER: At the moment, they have only put out for bids a few very major
contracts and it's been under an expedited process and the contracts have only
been offered to a few companies, a few major US companies. So for now we are
seeing a very particular process and I think that was--it was done that way
because they wanted to find--they, the Bush administration, wanted to find a
few companies who would be ready to go in as soon as the situation, from a
security standpoint, was safe in Iraq for these companies to go in and start
doing reconstruction projects.

As you mention, this is a controversial issue. The fact that these contracts
have been offered only to US companies has caused considerable consternation
in countries throughout the world, including in Britain and Australia, the
countries that are with us in the coalition, but also, of course, in France
and Germany and other countries where companies would really like to see
access to these lucrative reconstruction contracts.

GROSS: Now a controversy within who gets the contracts is the role of
Halliburton, the oil service company that was headed by Vice President Cheney
before Cheney joined the Bush administration. Kellogg Brown & Root, a
subsidiary of Halliburton, has already gotten contracts to rebuild oil wells.
I understand that Halliburton is actually out of the running for contracts
now--for new contracts. What's the status of that?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, they have said that they are out of the running for the
other rebuilding contracts, as least as the prime contractor. Although it has
also been stated that they will be seeking to perform subcontracts under the
major contracts. So I think they will presumably be involved in some way in
these major contracts. Whether they took themselves out of the running or
somebody took them--you know, they were just taken out of the running as part
of the bidding process, it's a little bit unclear. But it has been stated
that they're out of the running for the major $600 million AID contract at
this point anyway.

They have, as you mentioned, gotten this contract to fight oil well fires and
perform emergency repairs on Iraq's oil fields. I think it's safe to assume
that Halliburton would like to have a role in Iraq because there will be very
lucrative contracts both on the rebuilding front and, looking forward, oil
development contracts. But for now, they are not in the running for this
major USAID contract.

GROSS: Bathsheba Crocker co-directs the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project
at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She'll be back in the
second half of the show.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

(Credits)

GROSS: Coming up, more on rebuilding Iraq with Bathsheba Crocker. Also, we
remember Cecile de Brunhoff, who died Sunday at the age of 99. She created
the bedtime story that inspired the Babar, the Elephant series. We'll hear
from her son, who wrote and illustrated most of the Babar books.

And Milo Miles considers two soul singers, a newcomer and a veteran.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with Bathsheba Crocker, co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She's one of
the authors of the report "A Wiser Peace," which proposes a strategy for
post-conflict Iraq. The report is a collaboration between the center and the
Association of the United States Army.

In Iraq, we're going to have to help create a new civil society. A lot of the
civil society under Saddam Hussein was corrupted. The police were his police
that terrorized the population. The civil structure was comprised of his
extended family and his cronies. How much of that is going to stay in place?
Will everybody who is connected to Saddam Hussein and his regime be replaced
by new people? Will some of them, do you think, be allowed to keep their
positions in the police or in the bureaucracy, in the judicial system?

Ms. CROCKER: I think we will see a good deal of the civil servant and the
bureaucracy retained, but that at the higher levels we will see people vetted
and moved out of their positions. So although there are many, many, many
card-carrying members of the Ba'ath Party throughout Iraq, I think some people
did that just as a matter of expediency or to keep their families safe, and
that the folks that we have to be really concerned about are those at the very
top of all of the government institutions, whether it's the police or the
central government ministries or the military or the security apparatus.

It is assumed that certain Iraqi ministries--for example, the Ministry of
Information which, as we are even seeing in the past few days, has just been
used as a tool of propaganda by the government and will probably have to be
scrapped and completely reconstituted. And the same could be said about
certain other institutions, such as the security and intelligence apparatus.
But when talking about the police, for example, it is assumed that the higher
levels of the police will have to be moved out, and that perhaps in the
interim they would be replaced by international civil policemen in an advisory
and supervisory capacity, but that at the lower levels, at the sort of
bureaucratic level, that what you have is probably a fairly well-trained
police force that could be called upon to continue to do some sort of regular
law enforcement and policing functions.

And the same could be said of the civil-servant class throughout the Iraqi
government ministries. I think the assumption is that you will be able to
retain a lot of what already exists. And, in fact, that is part of the Bush
administration's plan, as far as I understand it. They intend to continue
paying around two million Iraqi civil servants to continue doing their jobs
after Saddam falls.

GROSS: Do you think the US military will be comfortable with the idea of
police who served under Saddam Hussein still serving as police with weapons?

Ms. CROCKER: That's a very good question. I'm not sure how heavily armed
Iraq's police force is. The same question needs to be addressed with respect
to Iraq's national army. Generally, when you talk about what to do with an
army after a conflict like this, you have to think in terms of disarmament and
demobilization and reintegration of the armed forces. We're going to have to
address that in Iraq. The question of the police--I think at the moment it's
a little bit difficult to tell. The Bush administration has not talked a lot
about its plans for the Iraqi police force. But the estimates of the police
force are that it's between 35,000 and 58,000 people. Again, you might assume
that the top 10 percent or so of that will have to be moved out of their jobs,
because they will be senior Ba'ath Party officials, but it may be that at the
lower level--and again, as far as we understand, at the lower level the police
have been sort of just doing very basic law enforcement functions.

The things that we've heard about in terms of human rights abuses and the more
atrocious actions of the Saddam Hussein regime, I think, have been carried out
more by his security apparatus, which are not the regular police force but
totally separate troops.

GROSS: President Bush says that the oil in Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people
and it will be used to help and support the Iraqi people. The president also
plans on using revenues from oil to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq. Will
there be enough oil revenue to fund the very expensive process of rebuilding
Iraq?

Ms. CROCKER: I don't think so, at least not in the most immediate term.
Although Iraq has considerable oil reserves, second in the world only to Saudi
Arabia as far as we understand, there is not enough oil money to go around to
pay for all the needs in that country. At the moment, at current production
levels, Iraq is earning about $16 billion a year in oil revenue. That's
obviously an enormous amount of money, but also currently, about 70 percent of
that revenue is going to humanitarian needs under the oil-for-food program.
We don't know what the future of the oil-for-food program will be, if
anything, but it is safe to assume that the humanitarian needs in Iraq will
continue for at least some period of time. And unless we see humanitarian
needs being made up completely from outside donations, I think some of the
oil revenue will continue to be used for humanitarian needs.

Some of the oil revenue is also currently being used to pay for claims related
to the previous Gulf War, reparations claims. Again, it may be that there is
a decision made that oil money should no longer be used to pay back those
claims, but between humanitarian needs and the claims at this time, there is
about 3 percent of Iraq's oil revenues left over to pay for any other needs,
which doesn't get you very far when you're talking about a possible
reconstruction bill of between 20 to $25 billion in the first year, which is
what most estimates assume we'll need.

And I think it's also important to factor in two other points. One is that
the oil infrastructure itself in Iraq needs a considerable amount of
investment to get it back up to pre-Gulf War production levels. Estimates for
that range in the tens of billions of dollars. And then also that there are a
lot of--Iraq has a huge amount of financial obligations at the moment, both
the reparations claims that I mentioned earlier, but then also bilateral debt.
So there will be a lot of competing claims on this money between humanitarian
needs, reconstruction needs, paying for basic sort of government ministries in
Iraq, the continuing function of the government ministries, possibly paying
back claims, possibly paying back debts, and then the investment that is
needed in the oil infrastructure itself. And there just won't be enough money
to go around.

I think as we look down a few years out, if we've seen some investment in the
oil infrastructure, and as humanitarian needs taper off, more and more of that
money will become available for reconstruction needs. But in the immediate
term, I just don't think it's reasonable to assume that all of that money can
be used to fund the reconstruction effort.

GROSS: Does the Bush administration have a plan to make up that financial gap
if, in fact, the Iraqi oil revenues aren't big enough to cover the bills for
reconstructing Iraq?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, the Bush administration has requested some money for
reconstruction efforts in the supplemental budget request that President Bush
submitted a few weeks ago. So at the moment I think we'll see $2.5 billion
from the Congress for immediate reconstruction needs. There is also about
$1.7 billion in Iraqi frozen assets in the United States that the US
government has seized, again to pay for reconstruction needs. But this is
just a drop in the bucket, which the Bush administration has also
acknowledged. Going out, I think we will see future requests for more funds
from the Congress, but I don't think that there's an expectation that the US
taxpayer is going to foot this entire bill.

So again, I think what we'll have to see, as we've seen in other recent
post-conflict situations like Afghanistan and Kosovo, is real help from our
friends and allies and from the major international donors to help make up
some of these costs. Again, I think it's reasonable to assume that the oil
money can be used in part for the reconstruction needs, but that we will need
to see some sort of a donors' conference and pledging of funds from other
countries, in addition to whatever we see in the way of US dollars
appropriated by the Congress for this effort. I think the initial
appropriation will be enough to cover the immediate contract that the Bush
administration is talking about, but when you're talking about an overall bill
of $100 billion, I think it's not reasonable to assume the US is going to make
up that entire bill.

And this, again, just gets back to the importance of the diplomacy. Because
many of the European countries have said they only want to participate if
there's a UN mandate for the postwar phase, it makes it that much more
important that we mend our relations with our friends and allies and come to
some agreement at the UN about a possible UN role in the postwar phase.

GROSS: We've been talking about rebuilding Iraq and trying to create a
democracy within the post-Saddam Iraq. What's at stake now for the United
States as it tries to accomplish this, as it tries to oversee the creation of
a democracy?

Ms. CROCKER: Well, I think there's a lot at stake. This is obviously a very
critical region for US interests. In addition to the possible sort of oil
politics that I don't really understand all that much, we obviously have the
Israel-Palestinian issue, which is a continuing and very serious one and seen
as quite closely linked to what happens in Iraq. But President Bush has made
a lot of very significant promises about what could happen in Iraq in the
future and what that might mean for the region. I think it is in longer-term
US interests to see a gradual process of democratization throughout the
region, and that is certainly one of the things that the Bush administration
seems to be expecting might happen if we are successful in creating a
democracy in Iraq.

I think it's also--the future of Iraq also will be very important from the
perspective of the level of anti-Americanism that we've seen throughout the
world, and particularly throughout the Muslim world. We have made, again, a
lot of very serious promises to the Iraqi people, and I think it will be very
important for us to follow through on those promises. The worst thing that we
could do, it seems to me, is go into this country without the stamp of the
United Nations, without the international approval for this war effort,
overthrow a government in the Arab world, and then not follow through with the
kind of commitment that we will need to show in order to really bring
democracy to Iraq and then possibly to the region.

GROSS: Bathsheba Crocker co-directs the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project
at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Coming up, we remember Cecile de Brunhoff, creator of Babar the Elephant.
This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Laurent de Brunhoff discusses his parents' and his own
books featuring Babar the Elephant
TERRY GROSS, host:

The creator of Babar the Elephant, Cecile de Brunhoff, died Sunday in Paris at
the age of 99. Babar, the benevolent elephant king, was the main character in
one of the most popular series of children's books of the 20th century.
Cecile de Brunhoff created Babar for a bedtime story that she told her
children in 1930. The following year, her husband, the illustrator Jean de
Brunhoff, began a series of Babar books. After his death in 1937, his son
Laurent de Brunhoff continued the series. He has written and illustrated more
than 40 Babar books. I spoke with Laurent de Brunhoff in 1990, and asked if
he remembered his mother telling him the story of Babar.

(Soundbite of 1990 interview)

Mr. LAURENT DE BRUNHOFF (Writer and Illustrator, Babar Books): I don't
remember her telling the story to my brother and I. It's one of those
memories, you know, that you don't remember yourself, but you have been taught
about by your friends or your parents. And my father at that time was not
already a writer of children's books. He was a painter. And when we told him
about these stories that my mother had told us, we were so excited that he
wanted to make a book for us about it. That--what he did, and that was the
birth of Babar.

GROSS: Maurice Sendak, the children's book writer and illustrator, wrote the
introduction for an anthology of six Babar stories, three of them written by
your father, three of them written by you. And in the introduction, he talked
about his reaction to the first Babar story, in which Babar's mother is shot
by a hunter, and the baby Babar is off on his own. And Sendak said that `The
ease and remarkable calm in which de Brunhoff lighted the life of his baby
elephant numbed me.' Tell me what your reaction was when Maurice Sendak told
you that he was very upset by the way Babar's mother was shot.

Mr. DE BRUNHOFF: I was a little bit amused, because this is a reaction that I
hear very often, of course, there is something awful to have the mother shot
on the second page of a children's book. But I would point out that this idea
was my mother's, not my father. And this is the only death in the book,
except that the old king is dying, too, in the same book. And that was my
mother's idea again. I think Maurice, who is a good friend of mine, put too
much--he emphasized too much the aspect of the death of the mother. I think
it's simpler than that. The writer and the person telling the story wanted
the hero, Babar, to be free; I mean, to struggle with the world all by himself
and to get himself in control of his own life. That's why the link with his
mother was broken. And Babar, in fact--the characteristic of this character
is that it is always in control of any situation.

GROSS: So it becomes a story about growing up, about separating from your
parents and...

Mr. DE BRUNHOFF: Exactly.

GROSS: ...finding your own self.

Mr. DE BRUNHOFF: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GROSS: Now I have to tell you about--you probably know about this; I'm sure
you must. But there's another interpretation of the Babar stories that I want
to ask you about. Ariel Dorfman, who's a Chilean writer, has a book called
"The Empire's Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar and Other Innocent
Heroes Do to Our Minds." And it's an analysis of Walt Disney and Babar and the
Lone Ranger and how they feed into certain kind of capitalist and colonialist
fantasies. And he describes the Babar stories as an idealized colonial
history. He writes, `History is sweetened up. The way in which Europe
handled the natives in Africa is justified. Sure, there was some plundering
in Africa, but just look at how happy the elephants are now.' How do you react
to that kind of analysis of the Babar stories?

Mr. DE BRUNHOFF: Well, I know the theory of Ariel Dorfman, and I think there
is a lot of truth in that theory. What irritates me is the lack of humor, the
total lack of humor of Dorfman about that. I mean that it is true that we can
find some kind of a colonialist cliche in the story of Babar, this little
elephant coming from the jungle and meeting civilization and coming back,
bringing civilization to his pal. Of course, but that was the way people
thought at that time. So it is not surprising that there is some kind of
reflection of this philosophy in my first father book.

But it's wrong to say that it's an imperialist book and this is giving bad
ideas to kids, because the children don't read and look at books that way.
They just enjoy them.

GROSS: Do you feel that there was a certain colonialism that you moved away
from in your own books?

Mr. DE BRUNHOFF: In my own book, I got another problem once. I think it was
my second book, I again was influenced by some stereotype of the '30s. I
wanted to picture some black African people, and I did it in the way that they
were presented by artists in the '30s; that is, with enormous red lips and
things like that, and feathers, you know, as African natives--caricatured as
they were in the '30s. And this book was published in France, and it was also
published in America. And once an editor at Random House, who was not a
children's editor but an editor of novels, saw the book--she was black, and
she was shocked. And guess who it was? It was Toni Morrison.

GROSS: Oh, really?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DE BRUNHOFF: And at that time, I was absolutely embarrassed, because I
knew she was perfectly right, and was sort of ashamed of having pictured the
black in such a stereotyped fashion. And we dropped this book. The book was
not printed anymore.

(End of excerpt)

GROSS: Laurent de Brunhoff, recorded in 1990. He's written and illustrated
more than 40 Babar books. His mother, Cecile de Brunhoff, who created the
character of Babar, died Monday at the age of 99.

Coming up, music critic Milo Miles on a veteran soul singer and a newcomer.
This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Albums "The Colored Section" by Donnie and "A Woman Like
Me" by Bettye Lavette
TERRY GROSS, host:

Two recent soul albums have caught the attention of our music critic, Milo
Miles. "The Colored Section" is by newcomer Donnie, and "A Woman Like Me" is
by veteran Bettye Lavette, who's been absent from the American music scene for
years.

MILO MILES: In the late '60s and early '70s, soul music was right in the
moment. It was all about passion, love and happiness, as Al Green put it, and
about newfound pride, respect, as Otis Redding said. Now that soul is
venerable and on the margins of music, it's still about those things, but with
a new twist. The finest soul records in the last year are about history:
American history, in the case of Donnie's "The Colored Section," and personal
history, in the case of Bettye Lavette's "A Woman Like Me."

Donnie comes out of the same neo-soul scene in Atlanta that produced
India.Arie, and like hers, his style might be called `literate retro.' No
question his voice and music borrow heavily from prime period Stevie Wonder,
sometimes too heavily. But fortunately, his lyrics draw on the Stevie of
"Living for the City," not "I Just Called to Say I Love You."

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

DONNIE: (Singing) Oohh, aah, mm-hmm. Welcome to the colored section.
Welcome to the Negro league. Sign your name on a black list and know this:
It's American history, yeah. See what it is to be blackmailed.

(Echoing) Blackmailed.

(Singing) See a real-life conspiracy. Sign your name on a black list and know
this: It's American history. Words like this and words like that...

MILES: There's a certain bourgeois high-mindedness about Donnie's approach to
alienation, love and hardship, but he has a lighter touch than many. Instead
of floating above materialism and middle-class privilege, Donnie prefers to
skewer it.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

DONNIE: (Singing) Mom's little baby is nothin' but a consumer, never makin' a
profit, hinderin' empty pockets. Oh. Mom's little baby is spending on the
rumor. Got to ...(unintelligible) investing, ...(unintelligible) market
testin'. On the town, look around, it's the first of the month. You ask what
kind of music had its usual jump; we're creatures of habit, modern days;
guaranteed to spend it all in just one place. Mom's little baby...

MILES: Although some of his love songs belong in `the colorless section,'
Donnie is exciting in part because he's bringing a sense of history into the
future.

On the other hand, Bettye Lavette's "A Woman Like Me" gains heft because it
could only be made by a performer with a past. Her first release was her most
successful. She was a teen-ager in 1962 when she cut "My Man, He's a Loving
Man," a top-10 R&B hit and as saucy as anything Tina Turner ever did.

(Soundbite of "My Man, He's a Loving Man")

Ms. BETTYE LAVETTE: (Singing) My man, oh, he's a whole lotta man. My man,
he's a whole lotta man. His friends try to tell him to do wrong things, he
lets them know that he's a one-woman man. My man, oh, he's a lovin' man.

MILES: Then there were decades of fizzles and false starts for Lavette:
strong singles with no follow-ups, albums that weren't released. She was even
a '70s Broadway star in "Bubbling Brown Sugar," but there was no real room for
her at the disco. Lavette's first American album in 20 years, however, is the
finest comeback set in recent memory. Aside from Lavette herself, the key
figure is producer Dennis Walker, who made Robert Cray's albums into modern
blues masterpieces and wrote all but two of the songs on "A Woman Like Me."

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

Ms. LAVETTE: (Singing) Oh, before my breakfast, shout `Whisky on the side.'
It's a dark and dreary morning, clouds coverin' up the sky. Forecast calls
for rain, forecast calls for pain. My baby's gone and turned cold. The
forecast calls for rain. We stayed up all night long...

MILES: Walker also knows how to get a soul sound as close to timeless as
possible, basic but not a throwback, nothing trendy but no nostalgia.
Lavette's voice now has grit around the edges; all the better for reflecting
on a life's worth of struggles and strains. The song sequence of "A Woman
Like Me" suggests Willie Nelson's classic "Phases and Stages," told from a
female perspective. It's either a big breakup or scenes from a half-dozen of
them. There's a couple weather metaphors, temptation that won't stop, neglect
that won't end, and Betty Lavette's right with you through all of it, first
getting hurt, then getting angry, and finally getting even. Because, after
all, living well is the best revenge on history.

And right now, for both Donnie and Bettye, people should be ready to listen.

GROSS: Milo Miles lives in Cambridge. He reviewed "The Colored Section" by
Donnie and "A Woman Like Me" by Betty Lavette.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

Ms. LAVETTE: (Singing) I tried to tell him time and time again just wasn't
gonna be his fool, patience is growing thin. I made it very clear that a
cheater always pays, but nothin' I told that man make him change his ways.
Some hard for a woman to give up on her man.

(Credits)

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

Ms. LAVETTE: (Singing) When a woman's had enough.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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