Governor of an Iraqi Province at 30

Fresh Air, one of the best talk shows on Public Radio had an interview with a British Diplomat Rory Stewart. At the  age of 30 he was appointed as the a provincial governor of some 850,000 people in Maysān in Iraq. Before this he had served as a British Infantry officer and had walked from Turkey to Bangladesh in 2002 through post-Taliban Afghanistan. He has written two books, The Places in Between based on his walk and The Prince of the Marshes based on his experience in Iraq.

According to him, the current problems are not due to bad planning as there was no way all this could have been anticipated. Even with all the planning, Iraq would have been a mess since it is difficult to govern a place if people do not want you there. The lesson he learned was that you have to think a lot before invading a place. He still sees a bright future for Iraq, if the westerners stop micro managing.

He had an anecdote about his time in Iraq. The province of Dhī Qār was under Italian control and had more peace  than the other provinces. Though not for the best of reasons, the Italians never left their bases and did almost nothing. The Italians did not confront the armed militia or influence the political process. Due to this, the local politicians were forced to find their own compromises resulting in stability. The idea is that the compromises reached between Iraqis among themselves is better than the ones enforced by the external forces.

A very interesting person and an excellent interview.

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