- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2003

The United States challenge to incubate democracy, the rule of law, and free enterprise in post-liberated Iraq (entre nous, nation-building) is formidable. But the game is worth the candle. A peaceful and flourishing Iraq would diminish terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and muffle voices decrying the United States as anti-Muslim. It would spur economic growth in the region and internationally by providing an anchor of stability, free trade, and secure oil supplies. A secular and democratic Iraq along with Turkey would provide models to spur enlightened change in authoritarian Arab nations and Iran. Finally, cherished human rights and dignity would crown millions of living Iraqis and those yet to be born.
History provides guidance for transforming Iraq. Our military victory should be crushing and unambiguous, like World War II triumphs over Adolf Hitler and Hirohito, not like the uncertain trumpet that ended World War I with Germany. Saddam Hussein and his savage thugs should be mercilessly pursued, killed, captured and prosecuted for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The trials should be conducted by judges from the United States and its military partners in the liberation of Iraq. Its loathsome leaders and butchers should be morally, politically and militarily discredited before the Iraqi people. They should be fearless to cooperate with United States authorities in building Iraq anew.
Inculcating a culture of democracy, tolerance and free markets in Iraq most resembles the corresponding challenge of the United States in the Philippines with its complete absence of democratic traditions and fracturing between Christian, non-Christian and Moro provinces. The indigenous population had been colonized and exploited by Spain for centuries before the 1898 Spanish-American War. After the United States military quelled a modest rebellion lead by Emilio Aguinaldo, civilian rule was inaugurated under President William McKinley by William Howard Taft, future president and chief justice of the United States.
He was appointed governor-general by the president and shared executive power with eight similarly designated commissioners. In 1907, a popularly elected Philippines Assembly was established to share legislative authority with the commissioners. Judges were appointed by the governor-general. National security exigencies deferred independence for the Philippines from 1933 to 1946. But the new nation emerged with a reasonably functioning democracy, which it sports today despite retrogression during the bleak Ferdinand Marcos years.
President George W. Bush should similarly appoint a civilian with high repute and energy as governor-general of Iraq. Candidates should include former Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker, former House International Relations Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton, and former Senate Majority Leader and global peacemaker George Mitchell.
The governor-general should be endowed with exclusive executive authority, including the power to rule by decree in cases of emergency. Laws would be enacted by a popularly elected Iraqi assembly, subject to concurrence by a 12-member council appointed by the governor-general. He would also appoint trial judges and a supreme judicial tribunal.
Subordinate provincial governments along the same model should be established in the largely Kurdish north, the largely Shi'ite south, and in middle Iraq outside the current no-fly zones. The central government would be responsible for defense, foreign affairs, international trade, monetary and fiscal policy, immigration and national commerce. The remainder of jurisdiction would reside with provincial governments, except for education, the keystone of success.
The governor-general would prepare national textbooks and curricula for free and universal elementary, secondary, and collegiate schooling. Iraq's ill-starred history should be fairly recounted, including missteps by the British during its mandate years. More important, the textbooks and classroom instruction should celebrate universal human yearnings: government by the consent of the governed; freedom of expression, religion, and association; equality before the law; an independent and impartial judiciary; private property; and, curtailments of liberty only with due process. Democratic customs should be nurtured through elections of student councils entrusted with advisory roles in issuing and enforcing school disciplinary and deportment rules. Lesser textbook and curricula revisions are under way in Qatar with promising signs of success.
President Bush should dispatch an elite thousand-member Iraqi Teachers Corps to provide classroom instruction teamed with Iraqi disciples. Each student should enjoy access to the Internet. American schools and universities should partner with corresponding institutions in Iraq to offer joint instruction and degrees.
Economic prosperity is pivotal to domestic tranquility. As British philosopher Sam Johnson observed, a man is never so innocently occupied as when he is making money. Thus, the governor-general of Iraq should promulgate simple commercial codes readily enforceable in courts of law; forge free trade agreements with the United States, the European Union, and neighboring nations; welcome foreign investment on equal terms with domestic rivals; prohibit anti-competitive practices and monopoly combinations; tax lightly, spend frugally and confine government regulation to health and safety.
No Iraqi "Marshal Plan" is need to spark the economy, which brims with oil and other rich resources. Humanitarian aid in the immediate aftermath of Iraq's liberation should fenced off from Iraq's economic development plan.
The vicissitudes of the Middle East and uncertain speed of nation-building make any fixed tenure for the governor-general imprudent. No would-be Iraqi villain should plan on the prospect of waning U.S. influence before democracy and human rights are in full bloom. Whether the task takes years or decades, it would mark one of America's and mankind's finest hours.

Bruce Fein is founding partner of Fein & Fein law firm in Washington.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide