- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

With the possibility of a major war with Iraq looming in the distance, newspapers and talk shows are filled with those who offer divergent views on how best to topple Saddam Hussein's military regime. Unanswered is the more important question of the desired end state: What does the United States want Iraq to look like 15 years after the completion of hostilities? Make no mistake about it: The United States will spend billions of dollars on the postwar reconstruction of Iraq. The question is whether we spend that money through a dysfunctional effort led by the United Nations or whether we invest that same amount in an U.S.-led effort geared to promoting long-term national interests. It is time to consider a Marshall Plan for Iraq.
Truth be told, it is known throughout the academic and political world that the United States does not have a very good track record in war termination. The running uncertainty over the Gulf War, the never-ended Korean War and our hurried exit from the CIA's covert war in Afghanistan in the 1980s are examples of U.S. failures to end a conflict in a way that meets both short and long-term national interests. Typically, the United States focuses on short-term interests, and fails to take into account second and third order effects of a quick exit.
Two notable exceptions: the reconstruction of postwar Japan under the military administration of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the postwar reconstruction of Europe, initiated by Secretary of State George Marshall (thus called "The Marshall Plan") and executed by Gen. Lucius Clay. In both cases, the United States led the effort, concentrating on setting up a framework for economic recovery, good governance, social advancement, war recovery, and the rebuilding/building of viable state institutions. These frameworks (which included writing the Japanese constitution) enabled both countries to be economically, politically and socially integrated into the international community. The result? The United States now counts on both Japan and Germany as two of her strongest allies.
The second and third order effects of our post World War II successes here are all positive. Militarily, the United States can rely on both Japan and Germany for basing and coalition support important factors in shaping a peaceful and stable world. Economically, these two powerhouses have provided regional stability, bolstering European economic unity and Asian fiscal synergy. Politically, the United States could not ask for stronger allies, replete with values and goals that closely mirror ours.
Decisive American leadership set the conditions for success and ensured that these two destroyed countries would have viable governments that would be U.S.-friendly.
Contrast the examples of our post-World War II success with that of Bosnia Herzegovina. The 1995 Dayton Peace Accords set up a framework that was negotiated and implemented in great part by the United Nations and the international community. In doing so, the brokered framework denied the fledgling country the means to get to the end. These accords produced a constitution that is difficult to modify in order to fit the realities of Bosnia; three separate states that have more power than the central government; a budgeting process that lacks transparency; and a political system that is both convoluted and divisive. To make it even more frustrating, the accords have resulted in gross expenditures of $6 billion with the end state ill-defined and far away. With donor fatigue setting in and the country forever on the verge of political and economic collapse, one wonders whether we will one day witness an implosion of the first order.
So, why did efforts in Bosnia meet with less-than-successful results? Because the United States abrogated its leadership responsibilities to the United Nations, an inefficient organization that lacks the ability to plan and execute a comprehensive and synergistic solution to the complex contingency operations that fall within the scope of the its charter.
Simply stated, if the United States wants to shape the world in a way that supports America's national interests, values and positive relationships with stable nation states, then America has to roll up its sleeves and get dirty. If the United States relies on the United Nations to get it done, then it must be prepared to live with the results garnered by the consensus of the 191 member counties of the United Nations.
The problem before us is daunting to force a regime change in Iraq in order to facilitate the creation of a viable, prosperous state capable of economic and political integration into the world community.
The solution is to provide U.S. leadership in the implementation of a Marshall plan for Iraq. An Iraq that is stable, strong and pro-American is in our interests. Both America and the people of Iraq deserve it.

Roger D. Carstens is a member of the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs (CENSA).

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