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Planning Now for a Postwar Iraq

Date:          Fri, 23 Aug 2002 04:48:30 -0700
From:          Jim Pivonka <>
To:          Representative Jerry Moran <>,  Senator Sam Brownback <>, Eli Pariser <>
BCC:  A redacted list

Neither our allies nor I can support Bush type interventionism in Iraq.  Let the Shrubbyites reform themselves in Afghanistan, and support for action in Iraq may be possible.

But at this point, the possibility that I could support military action in Iraq is a speculative one, based on an extremely unlikely set of actions by the Bush administration.

A friend has compared Bush's reliance on an Iraqi uprising against Saddam to the "Bay of Pigs".  I believe it is a valid point.  It would be foolish in the extreme to expect a popular uprising, or spontaneous formation of a reasonable system of governance in Iraq.

But, at the opposite extreme from the Bay of Pigs, during WW II we had governments in exile in place during the war,  We also had good contacts with local resistance organizations, and were free to support them operationally during the course of the war.

The two are each very different from Iraq.  If the US were to show patience and persistence now, and avoid action in haste and secrecy, we might avoid the Bay of Pigs model, and create a strategic situation more like Europe in WW II.

I am skeptical of the Bushites ability to show such discipline.  Or even to face the fact that to succeed, they need to think in terms of that kind of multi-faceted, long term, total mobilization warfare.  They certainly seem to be trying to convince the rest of us that immediate action is needed and stands a chance of success.  In the face of their failures in Afghanistan, and in planning for an Iraq intervention, I do not believe it does.

Bush's language of "change of regime" betrays the narrowness of his vision.  There is no clear focus in this Administration's plans even on its supposed primary goal of fighting terrorsm.  And a vision of freedom for the Iraqi peoples, and a defined path to achievement of goals for post Saddam governance and civil society are as clearly beyond its grasp as in Afghanistan (and as in the last Bush Administration).

I see mostly that, like Kennedy in Cuba and Johnson in Viet Nam, they want it on the cheap, quick, and dirty.  It will not work, if they attempt it that way.  If they were to try to do it right, they might, or might not find that the resources and political support for success were eventually available.  They might even be able to ensure a successor government which would be an improvement, instead of another of our many post WW II mistakes.

James P. Rubin, in the New York Times article which follows, focuses on the these issues very sharply.

Jim Pivonka
PO Box 751
La Crosse, KS 67548

August 23, 2002
Planning Now for a Postwar Iraq

    LONDON The prospect of an American war against Iraq is generating growing opposition around the world. One way the administration could transform the debate is to lay out, in advance and in some detail, its vision for Iraq after Saddam Hussein. And to prove America's ability to implement such a vision, the administration must demonstrate a new resolve to secure and rebuild Afghanistan.

Here in Europe, even those governments most sympathetic to the Bush administration's assessment of the Iraqi threat are deeply troubled by the lack of a post-invasion strategy. Meanwhile, the instability in Afghanistan does not give Europeans reason to believe that the administration has much staying power.

In the weeks before last fall's war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the United States and Europe were united in their goals for Afghanistan. Nation-building was back in vogue, although the specific term was usually avoided in Washington. A long-term commitment to peacekeeping troops, reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid was intended to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world and prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a terrorist base.

Now peacekeeping efforts have been stymied and are limited to a rather small force in Kabul. Despite the good intentions of Hamid Karzai's government, warlordism has come back to much of the country. Nearly everyone, with the important exception of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believes that a larger peacekeeping force would help prevent a return to chaos.

Humanitarian aid is being delivered, but the larger-than-expected return of refugees is straining available resources. And much of the help promised by governments around the world for economic and reconstruction aid (roads, schools, infrastructure projects) has been slow to arrive. The cumbersome procedures of international financial institutions and some governments are partly to blame and must be overcome. But the insecurity and continuing violence in Afghanistan are also serious obstacles to

More troops over a much wider area would be welcomed by most Afghans, who still see American and Western soldiers (including Turkish troops) as liberators, not occupiers. The glass is half-full in Afghanistan. The lives of Afghans have improved in terms of human rights, access to food and medicine, and security, but there is still a long way to go to fulfill the hopes created when the United States of America liberates a people from tyranny.

One of the most effective ways the Bush administration could obtain new support for its plans on Iraq would be a mid-course correction on Afghanistan. Western efforts in the Balkans, especially in Kosovo, have shown that strong peacekeeping forces do provide the physical security and psychological boost to enable countries shattered by war to recover.

The administration should stop telegraphing plans to invade Iraq and start developing and publicizing a concrete plan for a post-Saddam Iraq. Why should we wait until war is imminent to spell out for the Iraqi people and the world the benefits that will come from getting rid of Saddam Hussein? American officials could begin now to remind Iraqis of what America did for Germany, Japan, the Philippines and Eastern Europe when they moved from the category of enemy to that of friend.

Supporters of military action are probably right that post-Saddam Iraq will be relatively easy to stabilize. The Iraqi people are highly skilled, highly educated and secular. The prospect of Iraq breaking apart may well be exaggerated, and given Iraq's oil wealth there will be no need for nation-building on the scale required by Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

But it remains crucial that the administration convince the Iraqi people and the world that America is prepared to help Iraq prosper far beyond any change in regime. That means identifying the administrative arrangements and principles we would like to see govern the country, promising substantial peacekeeping forces for many years if necessary, furnishing technical assistance to the new government and its security forces, and starting a reconstruction fund to rebuild a country debilitated by war and economic sanctions.

Announcing the essential elements of such an initiative in an address by the secretary of state and calling an international conference to structure a post-Saddam assistance program would dramatically change perceptions of American military action in Iraq and make it far more likely that we could not just win the war with Saddam Hussein but win peace and prosperity for the region. With luck, this approach might even provoke a change of regime from within.

James P. Rubin, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, is host of a PBS program, "Wide Angle," and former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration.
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