2002 October 16 Wednesday
Hardest Part Of Iraq War Is Reconstruction

Sebastian Mallaby, in a Washington Post essay entitled "War, Then It Gets Hard" discusses a new report from The Washington Institute For Near Eastern Policy about the difficulties post-war Iraq political reconstruction:

Moreover, the destruction of civil society under Hussein has left few viable institutions other than the army. That doesn't augur well for the democracy that Bush promises.

A future Iraqi government, what's more, is likely to be dangerous as well as military-autocratic. It is likely to be anti-American, because American-backed sanctions are blamed (albeit unfairly) for reducing a once prosperous society to misery, and because Iraq's leaders traditionally have sought to quell ethnic tensions at home by espousing radical Arab nationalism. A future Iraqi government is almost bound to want nuclear weapons, because Iran is building them.

The report is entitled How To Build A New Iraq After Saddam edited by Patrick Clawson. This report argues that the US should fight the war in a way that creates better conditions for political reconstruction. You can read the whole introduction that I've excerpted here:

Although achieving battlefield success against the Iraqi military would not be easy, ensuring a stable and friendly post-Saddam Iraq would pose even greater challenges. Therefore, this more difficult task should guide the formation of military strategy. A strategy that ensured victory over the Iraqi military would be of little value if it prevented the United States and its allies from achieving their larger goal-stability and responsible leadership for Iraq. Military planners should therefore devote special attention to the potential influence that their operations could have on a post-Saddam Iraq.

As discussed in the previous section, a strategy that targeted the RG and SRG while bypassing the regular army could prove to be of enormous value, despite its risks. An even more ambitious strategy, however, would be to give Iraqis themselves as much credit as possible for the defeat of Saddam's forces, allowing them to feel greatly responsible for his overthrow-in other words, a strategy of liberation rather than occupation. The more pride that Iraqis felt about removing Saddam, the more likely they would be to identify with the government that replaced him. Such a government would have much stronger nationalist credentials than a government imposed by outsiders. For example, consider the role played by French Resistance forces during the Nazi occupation of their country. Although they had little military impact on the eventual liberation of France, their postwar sociopolitical impact was considerable.

A liberation strategy would in part be a matter of presentation, that is, of assigning credit to whatever Iraqi forces participated in the fight against Saddam, even if their role were actually marginal. Such a strategy suggests that the U.S. military role on the ground should be kept as small and discreet as possible, with significant attention devoted to encouraging the defection of Iraqi army units.

Update: For all posts on the problem of reconstruction and reformation of conquered countries see the Parapundit Reconstruction and Reformation archives.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 16 01:03 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation


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