24 February 2006

A Dream Team for Iraq

Well, as I am recovering from my aborted stay in the hospital, I see that bad news and good has trickled in from Iraq. The brothers over at Iraq The Model and Zeyad at Healing Iraq have done their level best to keep us up to date on thing as they are going on, no matter how confusing they may be. And while things do not look good, the people of Samarra seem to realize that this is being done to break up the Iraqi people along sectarian lines. The unexpected side-effect of rebellious spirits is that they tend to spread quickly beyond the control of the originating group. Various people are looking at many aspects of this, and one of the few things that is coming to light is that this was a pure terrorist attack upon Iraq.

The good people of Iraq are starting to find that they have a voice and that the terrorists are fearing it. After decades of brutal authoritarian rule, Iraqis may finally be saying *enough* of strong-men, terrorism and intimidation. The first steps taken to help bring basic 'frontier' justice to the provinces seems to be done, and the likes of al-Qaeda do not appreciate that one bit. And while it may be difficult to look ahead, that is what citizens *must* do in a representative democracy, because their politicians are too busy with the present. To those ends there are some paths to look at in the future, in Iraq, that is assuming that the people desire to be free, prosperous, law-abiding and respecting of their immediate neighbors on the local and national scale, and then a somewhat different attitude internationally.

So, from what I can see, there are a few broad areas to consider:

  • Enhancing local police forces. The training of police up until now has been that of getting basic 'law and order' in place and rooting out insurgents and terrorists. This will still be necessary, but should only be considered a secondary role for policing. The primary role is to have a street presence and enforce the local laws without respect to tribe, religion or ethnicity. These are known in the US as 'beat officers' or 'patrolmen'. One of the few pearls of wisdom that the US has found in policing is that putting police into vehicles isolates them from the community as a whole. An officer who walks a known 'beat' (as in beaten path) becomes a familiar and trusted presence in the community. People get to know their officers and to trust them the more that they can see and interact with them. And all sorts of minor things get reported via 'beat officers' that a vehicle based officer will miss. Perhaps look at vehicles to get to and from critical events, or use the more hardened counter-insurgency core of the police for those things.

  • Hand-in-hand with the above is a system of small courts or tribunals. The 'small claims courts' and other lesser judicial systems are a necessary grease to help communities adjudicate small things. Both on the civil and minor offenses side, these courts are a necessary part of any functioning democracy and need to be adequately staffed and run. What these courts cannot be is aligned to any religion, tribe or ethnicity. Those folks may have their own systems of minor penalties, but anything takeing place outside of those specific areas falls into the area of civili jurisdiction.

  • Finally, on the broad fronts, there must be a disbanding of local militias. Individual strongmen or groups may peacefully look to keeping order without the undue use of force, save for self-protection. But armed militias that do not respect local laws, are not under direct regional accountability and that operate to enforce only their own beliefs must all go. Their time is over if Iraq is to consider itself a self-governing nation that respects the rights of all of its citizens. I have outlined something that has been untried in the States of the United States that respects both the right to bear arms and the need for governance of that right. Some form of accountability based system for an armed citizenry that can be used in immediate emergencies until law enforcement arrives is something that is truly necessary not only to respond to terrorism but to natural disasters. The police cannot be everywhere, nor the military, and armed citizens knowledgeable in the law and respecting of a system of due process is an asset, not a liability.
All of that is well and good, but where to find ways to implement it?

Luckily, Iraqi Kurds seem to have gotten the idea in response to the decade of isolation needed to protect them from Saddam. Michael Totten recently visited there and came away with some impressions he has shared with the rest of the world. Once the immediate unrest begins to quiet down, it would be a very, very, very healthy thing for individual town and city mayors and officials from the southern provinces in Iraq to tour through the Kurdish based areas and sit down in face-to-face discussions with their counterparts. I would also suggest this for police chiefs to do on a regular basis. The first thing this does is establish direct contact between cities and towns across all parts of Iraq and lets you *use* the skills and knowledge of the Kurds to help spread self-governance. The second effect, and far more subtle, is that this will help to regularize administration of towns and cities as good and effective means of governing are spread and ineffective means are discarded. When one travels through the United States, the feeling is that no matter how different the peoples may be, there is a basic understanding of what it means to be 'law abiding' and that good citizenship is respected no matter the locale.

Another way to look at is that of bringing in the best known mayor from the US that has the 'chops' to handle just about any damn thing *and* has experience in turning a city known for its coldness and indiscriminant violence around into one of the safest places to live in the US. That mayor is Rudy Giuliani. He implemented the sort of local policing in New York City that took care of local crime, weeding out corruption and beginning a process of revitaling some of the worst parts of the city. That sounds like a pretty much nationwide description of what Iraq needs. And anyone who remembers 9/11 remembers the one thing that was seen coming through the still smouldering dust: Rudy Giuliani and his staff actually *handling* a disaster of unknown proportions. At the time he did not know if the attack was isolated to NYC or nation-wide, but he stepped up to the plate and did the right things to bring order to his city and ensure that it would survive even *if* the rest of the country went to hell and gone. I suspect that it would be worth paying for 3 or 6 months of Mr. Giuliani's time and have him spend a week or so in each of the major cities and towns in Iraq to let him meet with local officials and locals and get a sense for how things are going across your country. Of all aspects that he brings, the foremost is adaptable and sensible administration to bring a coherence to a locale. NYC is more than just the City itself, and he had to deal with Newark, Long Island and surrounding states and bedroom communities to work together to make New York a shining gem once more.

And if you cannot get Rudy, then the one man you just *might* be able to get, if the Army can spare him, is Lieutenant General Russel Honoré. He is a busy man, after the work he has done in the aftermath of Katrina, but I believe that you will find that he is an organizational master of more than minor capability. If you need a man who can integrate capabilities to bring about immediate change, while still respecting local sensibilities and making sure people keep their focus, Lt. Gen. Honoré is the man you need. By pointing out that people are still "stuck on stupid" for the way they aren't handling things, he pointedly and assuredly brings about positive change and cohesiveness in a no-nonsense way. And Iraq sure has a number of people still "stuck on stupid" that need to either get it together or pack it up and quit. Lt. Gen. Honoré may need some back-up staff or trusted advisors and such, but he will have good sense to keep it down to a few that can quickly travel.

Actually, as I think about it, what this begins to look like is the "Dream Team" needed for Iraq to build and re-build and help become an integrated nation with regional differences. Perhaps someone else can add to the team line-up. I can see needs for someone who actually *knows* how to bring a civil and minor courts system into order, but no names come right to me. Also, someone who can help move bureaucracy from cutting red tape 'length-wise' to someone who knows damn well to keep the tape at a minimum to start with. So, positions on the Iraqi Dream Team, to help and advise Iraq on moving forward:

  1. Rudy Giuliani - Civil administration, rebuilding of cities on a social fabric level and integrated policing
  2. Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré - Rebuilding, infrastructure and coordination between levels of governmental responses.
  3. Minor and small claims courts person, looking towards community integration and making a system *trusted* by the populace.
  4. Banking administration and regularization, an individual who can see what has and has not worked on community, state/provincial and national levels to give a trusted network of banks, loans and development capability across all levels for civilian needs.
  5. Business building/revitalization individual, who knows how to help start-up anything from micro-businesses to national level businesses.
  6. Agricultural expert, an individual who can help get new crops and techniques into play in Iraq using the traditional farming methods and needs as a basis for an export based system between the provinces and then internationally.
  7. Religious and ethnic advisor, an individual known to be able to cross religious gaps and ethnic problems and still be respected by all parties involved.
Call it the Group of Seven. An Iraqi Dream Team.

I do respect the hard work done by the Coalition forces to get some of the basics up and running again in Iraq. And by force of numbers they can bring some high degree of expertise to the situation. But very few of them have experts at 'turning around' situations from bad to good or even more. It is no disgrace to ask for that kind of help as there are very few individuals on this planet actually skilled at being a turn-around expert.

The foundations for the State of Iraq have been laid. It is time to bring in a construction crew that knows how to run out the vandals and ensure a good house is built upon those foundations.

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