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Looking Ahead In Iraq

"There is no silver bullet for what to do about Iraq. The situation is moving from crisis to chaos and most good ideas have already been considered. There will be resistance to nearly every effort to do things differently because no solution seems practical or even possible under the circumstances. No real progress can be made until there is security and stability in Iraq and that cannot happen without a coordinated political, military and economic effort by the international community." Photo courtesy AFP.
by William C. Danvers
UPI Outside View Commentator
Second of two parts
Washington (UPI) Jan 17, 2007
Getting the political situation right in Iraq can only work if security improves. While this may seem like a Sisyphean task with the full support of the international community, particularly America's NATO allies, the United States might be able to stabilize the situation. Turning Iraq into a NATO operation would not be easy nor would it be a panacea, but it could provide enough breathing room to get things back on track.

Since the United States is the focus of Iraqi ire, changing the flag from the United States to NATO would offer the legitimacy of international support that the United States should have had from the start. The United States would still provide the most troops and run the operation, but NATO involvement would add another dimension to the military and political effort in Iraq.

To be clear, this is not a mission that NATO would warmly embrace. Getting its involvement would require compromise on the part of the US both in terms of strategy and tactics but potentially also what the United States decides to do in the context of regional issues, but it would be worth the risk.

The Iraq Study Group makes recommendations about revitalizing the peace process and that may have to be considered in order to get the Europeans vis a vis NATO on board. In addition, involving NATO could provide some breathing room with the American people in terms of setting a date certain for getting troops out. The idea of sharing the burden always has appeal.

On the economic front, there has to be a new momentum to get things moving. Again, the ISG report recommends stronger involvement by the international community for Iraqi reconstruction efforts both regionally and through international institutions like the World Bank. Some of that is going on through United Nations efforts, but a more sustained and focused involvement must be put in place.

Specifically, an Iraqi Bank for Reconstruction should be established. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Europeans with some American participation set up the European Bank for Economic Reconstruction and Development. Having in place a similar structure whose mission is more on the reconstruction side and less on development that would be there for the long haul would send the right signal to both governments and the private sector that a transparent rebuilding process was going to be part of the path forward in Iraq.

At the same time, the U.S. government should create an enterprise fund for Iraq as it did for several Eastern and Central European nations after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Such a fund could mix public and private funds to get the Iraqi economy moving again. Making Iraq an attractive place for foreign and domestic direct investment is essential to turning things around there.

There is no silver bullet for what to do about Iraq. The situation is moving from crisis to chaos and most good ideas have already been considered. There will be resistance to nearly every effort to do things differently because no solution seems practical or even possible under the circumstances. No real progress can be made until there is security and stability in Iraq and that cannot happen without a coordinated political, military and economic effort by the international community.

Involving the U.N. more and NATO, as well as establishing new Iraqi reconstruction mechanisms is an approach worth considering. For those in Europe and elsewhere who will resist getting more involved it might be useful to remember the adage that if I owe you a hundred dollars it is my problem, but if I owe you a billion, it is yours. That is where we are with Iraq. A failure there is not only a U.S. failure, it is a global failure with far-reaching and devastating consequences.

(William Danvers has worked on international issues for nearly a quarter of a century, on Capitol Hill in the House and Senate, at the State Department, at the White House National Security Council, at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For the past five years, he has served in the private sector as a consultant.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

Maliki Calls On US To Better Arm Iraqi Army
London (AFP) Jan 17, 2007
The United States can "dramatically" cut its troop presence in Iraq within three to six months if it released the necessary weapons to the war-torn country's army, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview published in an early edition of The Times on Thursday. Maliki said that the violent insurgency in Iraq was bloodier and longer than it should have been because the United States refused to part with arms, and also rejected claims that his government was on "borrowed time" as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said.







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