May 28, 2004


Via The Daily Telegraph’s excellently-named Tory Maguire, some good news -- with a local angle -- out of Iraq:

The Treasury in Canberra is not a place you would expect to find a veteran of the Iraq campaign but principal adviser Tony McDonald is just that.

His job in Baghdad was to put the Iraqi economy, budget and pay systems back together.

And between losing his room in the hotel Al-Rasheed to a rocket attack and working himself to the bone, Mr McDonald helped transform the "gangster economy" of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"It was a really tough environment but it was also one with a lot of people who were very dedicated," he said yesterday.

"It may not be the impression that people have but it is just inspiring to work with them."

In a letter to Treasurer Peter Costello, Iraq administrator Paul Bremmer said he "often acted solely upon Tony's macro-economic advice".

Under Saddam, the tax system consisted mostly of imposts on business and very high tariffs, designed to maintain the regime's monopoly on smuggling.

In a comment piece not available online, Maguire writes that "anyone feeling jaded about Iraq after the relentless horrors of the US Military Police in Abu Graib should spend five minutes with Tony McDonald. The unassuming 34-year-old treasury official from Canberra has made a contribution to the future of Iraq that will last long beyond any military intervention."

Posted by Tim Blair at May 28, 2004 01:31 PM

Not all of the battles are fought with weapons by soldiers. And sooner or later, you have to rebuild what was destroyed, especially since Hussein destroyed so much on his own turf before he finally fell. Those who toil after the battles are as much a part of the final victory in Iraq as any soldier.

Good on you, Tony!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 28, 2004 at 01:38 PM

I'm proud of Tony on a job well done.

Tim, you should advise the ABC and Fairfax of this good news immediately. They are certainties to publish it (under about a metre of concrete).

Posted by: Michael Gill at May 28, 2004 at 02:37 PM

If that idiot Latham wants a(nother) good reason why our troops should remain in Iraq, it staring at him in this article.

It's not about hurting the Iraqi people, it's about helping them.

Well done, Tony.

Posted by: Dylan at May 28, 2004 at 02:38 PM

But, but, but . . . Americans and Aussies can't help Iraqis. They're DIFFERENT from Westerners. They are much better off under a system they accept and understand, like with Saddam. We are just corrupting the traditional Iraqi culture. Next thing you know they'll be all Westernized and want silly things like modern dentistry instead of 7th century health care and IT'LL BE ALL OUR FAULT!!

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at May 28, 2004 at 04:00 PM

I find this story a little bit fishy. I mean, where's the mention of the prisoner abuse scandal? Don't all stories about Iraq have to mention that, at least tangentially? (i.e. "Tony McDonald, an Australian economist who, incidentally had little or nothing to do with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal...")

Posted by: Sean M. at May 28, 2004 at 04:47 PM

Fixing up the economy of Iraq?

Bah! Clearly we should withdraw our imperialist hegemonic troops immediately!

That's the way to earn the love of the left and the "Arab Street".

Posted by: Quentin George at May 28, 2004 at 09:21 PM

In my continuing role as a pimp for his site, please see Wretchard's latest at Belmont Club.

By his typically impeccable reasoning, you'll likely come to the conclusion that Tony McDonald's job in Iraq is just as crucial as anyone who carries a rifle.

Thanks, Aussies.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at May 29, 2004 at 05:13 AM

My brother's wife's brother (follow that?) just returned from Tikrit. He is a US Army captain and attorney (J.A.G.) and he was exhilarated in his work with the Iraqi people.

According to Tom: The rule of law was non-existent under Saddam and the Iraqis are so eager, interested, and hopeful to finally establish a system whereby all people there can live together without the theft, graft, and bribery that the Ba'athists thrived on.

He gave an example: Imagine your car stolen; no help from the cops w/o a bribe and no insurance to replace it. Pretty psychologically devastating for a working person. The Iraqis want the Coalition to help them set up a system where if a car is stolen, cops make a good faith effort to find it, and if it's a write off, an Iraqi insurance company will replace it.

The Iraqis want and need our help and then they want us to leave so that they can assume their place among nations as a free people. That's understandable.

The bad guys want a return to the status quo. And the bad guys aren't only in Iraq.

Posted by: JDB at May 29, 2004 at 11:21 AM