When dictators fall, so do their banknotes

The following now defunct or possibly soon-to-be defunct banknotes are imbued with the symbols and iconography of their leaders, past and present.

3. Iraqi dinar

Pictured: 25-dinar note, acquired in Baghdad in 2003

On the Saddam Hussein-era 25-dinar note, the Ba’ath Party emphasizes its ancient enmity with neighboring Persia by depicting Arab warriors defeating their Persian enemies in the Battle of Qadissyah. Mr. Hussein used Qadissyah as a thinly disguised metaphor for his hatred of modern Iran.

The deposed Iraqi president confessed under FBI interrogation in early 2004 that he did not want Iran to know his entire weapons of mass destruction program had been demobilized and destroyed. Hussein likely feared that even if the US warnings didn’t materialize into an actual invasion, his frontier would look weak to the Shiite leaders in Iran and they might take advantage.

The Iraqi provisional government issued a new Iraqi dinar between late 2003 and early 2004 as part of an effort to erase the imagery of Hussein from everyday life. Despite high hopes for an oil gushing, resurgent Iraq, the new, post-Saddam Iraqi dinar remains the extremely weak currency of a country locked in sectarian violence and ethnic tensions.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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