As my intrepid colleague Sam Jaffe reports in this issue (Rebuilding Iraqi Science), Iraqi science is on its knees. Following two-and-a-half decades of a brutal dictatorship, it's been pummeled by sanctions, halted in its tracks by war, and ransacked in the postwar chaos. We probably can add to this list a deep malaise, which appears to be affecting the entire country as it awaits reconstruction.
While reading his report, several questions struck me: Just how worthwhile would it be to reconstruct the Iraqi science base? Who would benefit? And how might aid be provided quickly?
Obviously, the estimated 10,000 PhD researchers in Iraq would welcome the effort to rebuild their scientific community. This is a substantial body of scientists, particularly so for this region of the world, and one that could be put to good use.
For example, Iraq's education system was one of the region's best prior...