- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2003

The greatest challenge in building a stable Iraq is not in defeating terrorists and Ba’athists, nor is it in rebuilding the country’s ruined infrastructure. It is in creating a single identity by which the man (or woman) on the street can define himself: Iraqi.

Loyalty in Iraq today is local and factional — one is Kurdish or Shi’ite, or Sunni, and one is a member of a tribe or expanded family— al-Tikriti, for example, in the case of the Hussein clan. However, to build a stable nation it will be necessary for the Iraqis to set aside the interests of their tribes and ethnic groups, and to work in the interest of Iraq.

Accomplishing such a feat is not a new challenge for the United States. In the past few years, documents have come to light that reveal a major CIA and State Department role, conducted behind the scenes, in creating the single European identity that now underpins the European Union. One of the great untold stories of the Cold War, this covert action permitted America to influence and accelerate the emergence of a stable and peaceful Europe, while allowing it to seem that integration was a popular movement by the European people. What is more, the project provided a large payback for relatively little fiscal outlay, hundreds of thousands of dollars in the midst of a Cold War costing billions.

America initialized this effort through an organization called the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), founded in 1948. Although ostensibly a private non-profit, the ACUE board in the early 1950s was led by Bill Donovan, head of the CIA forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services, and by Allen Dulles, director of the CIA. Having identified potential leaders and idealists of an integrated Europe, the ACUE quickly became the major provider of funds to the European Movement, the grass-roots organization dedicated to creating a European Union.

Through its influence as the major contributor to the European Movement, the United States was able to manage its program and to direct its leadership — which included some of the top European politicians of the day. Unknown to the people of Europe — and even to most within the European Movement — all of its major plans, including the creation of a consultative assembly that would later become the European Parliament, were carefully vetted, and often formulated, by the ACUE.

The ACUE also did not hesitate to censor even the most senior European politicians when they fell out of line, and kept a tight hold on the European Movement’s purse strings, releasing funds only once their proposed execution had been approved, and directingtheEuropean Movement to refrain from fund raising within Europe, thus maintaining its reliance on America.

The ACUE went on to create and fund a number of grass-roots organizations, including the European Youth Campaign. This organization, manifestly under the auspices of the European Movement, was intended to create enthusiasm for the European ideal amongst teen-agers and young adults through conferences, books and model European Parliaments. The ACUE also directed the initiation, through European statesman Robert Schuman, of a forum of European business and economicleaderswho supportedEuropean integration. As early as 1965, the State Department advised another European statesman, Robert Marjolin, to pursue monetary union by stealth until the “adoption of such proposals would become virtually inescapable.”

The American effort wound down in the late 1960s, as European integration advanced under its own steam, and as U.S. interest shifted focus to Southeast Asia. Yet, the proof of the policy’s success is in the economically and legally integrated Europe still evolving today.

The question, then, is whether a similar exercise could be mounted in Iraq today. In Iraq, as in the Europe of 1945, the key to stability lies in the development of an Iraqi people who are more committed to each other than to themselves and their religious or ethnic identities. And in Iraq, perhaps even more than in postwar Europe, this development must be seen to come from the ground up — any obviously American attempt to build an Iraqi identity will make itself and its followers targets for the enemies of democracy and stability.

America should examine the possibility of expanding its support for the “silent majority” in Iraq, and for channeling the loyalty of that majority into a single Iraqi identity. If we fail to do so, our enemies may succeed in exploiting the social divisions on which they thrive.

The creation of a unifying grass-roots movement in Iraq will, like many things in that nation, not happen overnight. However, the work of the CIA and State Department in creating a European identity provides alittle-knownhistoric precedent that we can draw on today to help Iraqis adopt a self-image that is key to our success and their peaceful future.

Joshua Paul is an associate at James Benevuto & Associates Inc., and he works closely with the U.S. Army Force Development Directorate. Any views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of JB&A; or the Army.


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