2003 March 13 Thursday
US Military Will Rule Iraq For Only A Few Months

The US military wants to conduct the war in Iraq in a way that minimizes destruction and loss of civilian life so that rebuilding is easier.

Faced with reconstructing the country, American planners say they do not want to destroy any more of Iraq than is necessary. The images the allies want to see on the world's television networks when they venture into Basra are joyous Iraqis cheering the liberation of the Shia-dominated south from a authoritarian regime in Baghdad, not the faces of bereaved mothers mourning the deaths of sons conscripted into a war that they care little about and lamenting the errant bombs that pulverized their homes.

In an interview with Amir Taheri influential neocon hawk Richard Perle makes the US role in reforming Iraq as limited and of very short duration.

Taheri: Do you plan to impose a military occupation of Iraq?

Perle: No. Our first task is to topple the dictatorship and destroy its weapons. We shall then have the task of ensuring security and law and order for a brief period during which the new Iraqi government establishes itself and rebuilds its police and armed forces. The Iraqis will have the opportunity to have a new constitution, hold elections and produce a government of their own choosing. Once that government asks us to leave, we shall leave.

A reformation of Iraq that would be deep enough to create the conditions under which liberal democracy would flourish is not something that can be accomplished in a short period of time. If Perle's attitude typifies the thinking of the Bush Administration then the US is not going to succeed in turning Iraqi into an even semi-liberal democrary.

From a March 11, 2003 Pentagon briefing entitled Backgrounder on Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Post-War.

Our goal from day one has been to put together as solid set of plans that we could implement with a goal of going into country, implementing those plans, staying as long as necessary to be able to stand up a government in Iraq and get out as fast as we can. And our goal is to turn Iraq over to the Iraqi people, but with a government that expresses the free will of the people of Iraq. We intend to immediately start turning some things over, and every day, we'll turn over more things. I believe that's our plan.

From that same briefing note that the Iraqis currently living in the United States who will be hired to go over to Iraq to work in the US military administration will go for 90 to 180 days. Again, this is another indication that the US will be backing off of its control of the Iraqi government fairly quickly.

Now that process -- I had great hopes for that process, but that's not going to -- it'll happen, but it's not going as fast as I wanted. We've hired several free Iraqis, but we need to hire over a hundred, and we haven't approached that number yet.

We're putting them under contract, and they are for a short period of time, somewhere between 90 and, at the most, 180 days.

What we're doing is we're -- the reason we're bringing them in is because they have lived in a democratic country now. They understand the democratic process. And as we use them to facilitate what's going on, we think that that's a good recipe -- to have people that were born and raised in those provinces but now have lived in a democracy. And they can explain things to the people there, who have been oppressed for the last 30 or so years. These coordinators will then set up committees in each of the provinces. Like I said before, those provinces will nominate to us work that they want to see done.

Now, as you know, this is a very labor-intensive business when you get into this type thing. So one of our goals is to take a good portion of the Iraqi regular army -- I'm not talking about the Republican Guards, the special Republican Guards, but I'm talking about the regular army -- and the regular army has the skill sets to match the work that needs to be done in construction. So our thought is to take them and they can help rebuild their own country. We'd continue to pay them. And these committees will nominate work for them to do, do things like engineering, road construction, work on bridges, remove rubble, demine, pick up unexploded ordnance, construction work, et cetera, et cetera.

That also allows us -- and using army allows us not to demobilize it immediately and put a lot of unemployed people on the street. So it works a pretty good process. They're working to rebuild their country. It's reestablishing some of the prestige that the regular army has lost over the years, and it allows us to get a lot of good things done for the country.

The other thing we're trying to do with free Iraqis is bring in two to three with the right skill sets for each of the 21 or 22 ministries; say, from public health, bring in a free Iraqi that's an expert in public health.

Now in the ministries, the Iraqis are going to continue to run the ministries, as -- they run it now. And we're going to have them keep running it and we're going to pay them, pay them their salaries. But what we want to do is bring in a free Iraqi who understands the democratic process to help us facilitate making that ministry more efficient.

The time frame right now is to be ready to go when called or when directed. Our time frame in country is to get in there as soon as we can and begin this work, and end it as fast as possible, but at the same returning to the Iraqi people a set of things that weren't as good when we got them and are better now and begin the democratic process and to have, like I said, a government that represents the free will of the people

What comes after the initial US military administration? John O'Sullivan examines some of the ideas for how to operate the Iraqi government before elections are held.

Should the United Nations, then, provide the formal governing authority for postwar Iraq? Not even Frechette favors that -- for the prudent reason again that U.N. bureaucrats would then find themselves taking highly controversial decisions on war crime trials, oil contracts and the new political structures of a democratic Iraq. Whatever hapless U.N. civil servant was appointed high commissioner would then find himself engaged in a series of running battles with his colleagues back in New York, various member-states of the United Nations such as the Saudis, and a powerful U.S. ambassador over everything from training the police to holding local elections. Frechette may have seen such a job coming her way-and ducked.

That leaves an ad hoc governing body rooted in the legitimacy of conquest -- in other words an Allied Control Commission on the post-war German model. This would be composed of political and military representatives of the major allied powers -- the United States, Britain, Spain, etc. But it should also include a strong and growing representation of Iraqi democrats of all stripes. And the local U.N. mission might either be a constituent part of this body -- or empowered to work closely with it.

It is not clear from all the proposals being discussed when an elected government would be created. There is a stage after the US military administration and before the formation of an elected government and that intermediate stage might last for years.

Stanley Kurtz argues that we can not afford to fail to transform the Middle East.

The pressure of the war itself — the sobering effect of defeat on the Muslim world — could conceivably create enough space for a democratic experiment to succeed in one of the newly conquered Muslim states, or perhaps in Iran after an anti-fundamentalist revolution. But given the profound social and cultural barriers to modernization in the Middle East, it's equally possible that our experiments in democratization will fall flat, leaving us mired in a Middle Eastern mess. And unlike Vietnam, the ongoing threat of terrorism will make it impossible for us to entirely wash our hands of that mess.

Stanley Kurtz points out some of the reasons why reformation of Japan was easier than it will be for Iraq.

Also, Iraq is only a part of a larger Arab-Muslim world. Conquering Iraq without conquering the rest of the Arab world will leave many Anti-American cultural and political counter-currents at play. Already, extensive immigration across the Arab world gives it a kind of unity that goes beyond national boundaries. That means that our rule in Iraq will not be quite comparable to MacArthur’s total domination of a defeated Japan, where all competing centers of cultural influences were wiped out. When you add all that to what I believe are some very deep cultural barriers to democracy, it means that we’ve at least got a bigger problem on our hands than we may realize, even if it’s ultimately solvable.

Read more from Kurtz on why reformation of Iraq will be harder than the reformation of post-WWII Germany and Japan.

Update: For other posts on the topic of reconstruction of Iraq and reformation of the Middle East see my Reconstruction and Reformation archive. Also, on the general theme of "why they hate us" and the nature of the clash between the West and Islam see my Clash of Civilizations archive. On the subject of why the strategy of preemption is necessary see my Preemption, Deterrence, and Containment archive. In the right hand column of Parapundit.com blog main page there is a list of other category archives that may be of interest. The exact choice of category for each post is not always an easy decision. So I can't guarantee you will always find a topic filed where you might expect it.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 March 13 02:27 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation


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