REVIEW: Article

Introduction to the Executive Summary of Iraq: The Day After

The following Executive Summary taken from the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force report entitled Iraq: The Day After, details some of the major challenges of reconstruction and governance that lie ahead in a post-Saddam Iraq.

The Task Force report relies heavily on the outstanding leadership of two of America’s most outstanding foreign policy and national security figures: Dr. James R. Schlesinger, the former Secretary of Defense and Energy; and Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, the former United States (US) Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) and Under Secretary of State. Eric Schwartz, a Senior Fellow at the Council, served as the project director.

After the war, the nation-building and reconstruction process will be the responsibility of our government, other governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. But public policy schools and research centers also have an obligation to use their expertise to the limits to provide good information and ideas to those who have to act.  In that spirit, we offer this Task Force report to shed light on how we should engage in the profoundly important task of reconstructing and governing Iraq in a post-Saddam transition.

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Executive Summary*

If the United States goes to war and removes the regime of Saddam Hussein, American interests will demand an extraordinary commitment of US financial and personnel resources to post-conflict transitional assistance and reconstruction. These interests include eliminating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD); ending Iraqi contacts, whether limited or extensive, with international terrorist organizations; ensuring that a post-transition Iraqi government can maintain the country’s territorial integrity and independence while contributing to regional stability; and offering the people of Iraq a future in which they have a meaningful voice in the vital decisions that impact their lives.

But US officials have yet to fully describe to Congress and the American people the magnitude of the resources that will be required to meet post-conflict needs. Nor have they outlined in detail their perspectives on the structure of post-conflict governance. The Task Force believes that these issues require immediate attention, and encourages the administration to take action in four key areas:

Key Recommendation #1: An American Political Commitment to the Future of Iraq: The president should build on his recent statements in support of US engagement in Iraq by making clear to Congress, the American people, and the people of Iraq that the United States will stay the course. He should announce a multibillion dollar, multiyear post-conflict reconstruction program and seek formal congressional endorsement. By announcing such a program, the president would give Iraqis confidence that the United States is committed to contribute meaningfully to the development of Iraq and would enable US government agencies to plan more effectively for long-term US involvement.

The scale of American resources that will be required could amount to some $20 billion per year for several years. This figure assumes a deployment of 75,000 troops for post-conflict peace stabilization (at about $16.8 billion annually), as well as funding for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance (as recommended immediately below). If the troop requirements are much larger than 75,000—a real possibility—the funding requirement would be much greater.*

For reconstruction and humanitarian assistance alone, the president should request from Congress $3 billion for a one-year period, and make clear that the United States will be prepared to make substantial additional contributions in the future. This initial contribution would include $2.5 billion for reconstruction and $500 million for humanitarian aid.** (However, if there are significant interruptions in the availability of Iraqi oil revenues for the Oil-for-Food Program, the figure for humanitarian assistance would need to be considerably higher).

Key Recommendation #2: Protecting Iraqi Civilians - A Key to Winning the Peace: From the outset of conflict, the US military should deploy forces with a mission to establish public security and provide humanitarian aid. This is distinct from the tasks generally assigned to combat troops, but it will be critical to preventing lawlessness and reassuring Iraqis who might otherwise flee their homes. As women and children will constitute the majority of refugees and internally displaced persons, special efforts should be made to ensure that they are protected from sexual assault and that their medical and health care needs are met. The Bush administration should sustain this public security focus throughout the transition. None of the other US objectives in rebuilding Iraq would be realized in the absence of public security. If the administration fails to address this issue effectively, it would fuel the perception that the result of the US intervention is an increase in humanitarian suffering.

Additional Recommendations - Protecting Iraqi Civilians:

  • Assist civilian victims of any use of WMD. The US and coalition partners should be ready to conduct rapid assessments of any WMD use, publicize the results of such assessments, provide information to Iraqis on how to mitigate the impact of WMD, and provide assistance to alleviate the health effects of WMD exposure should it occur.
  • Seek to ensure protection for displaced persons and refugees. Administration officials should press neighboring governments to provide safe haven in their countries for fleeing Iraqis. If the government of Turkey and other governments are determined to establish camps within the territory of Iraq, US officials should seek to ensure that such camps are safe and secure.
  • Sustain, for the time being, the basic structure of the Oil-for-Food Program. US officials should work closely and intensively with the World Food Program (WFP) to ensure the continuation of the distribution network that sustains the Oil-for-Food Program. The program should be modified over time to ensure transparency and effectiveness in meeting Iraqi needs.
  • Actively recruit international civilian police (civpol) and constabulary forces. Constabulary units such as Italy’s Carabinieri have equipment, training, and organization that enable them to maintain public order and address civil unrest. In addition, international civilian police could play an important role in vetting, training, and mentoring Iraqi police.

Key Recommendation #3: Sharing the Burden for Post-Conflict Transition and Reconstruction: The Bush administration should move quickly to involve international organizations and other governments in the post-conflict transition and reconstruction process. This move will lighten the load on US military and civilian personnel, and help to diminish the impression that the United States seeks to control post-transition Iraq.

The Bush administration will likely be reluctant, especially early in the transition process, to sacrifice unity of command. On the other hand, other governments may be hesitant to participate in activities in which they have little responsibility. The Task Force recommends that the administration address this dilemma by promoting post-conflict Security Council resolutions that endorse US leadership on security and interim civil administration in post-conflict Iraq, but also envision meaningful international participation and the sharing of responsibility for decision-making in important areas. The resolutions could direct WFP or another international humanitarian organization to assume lead responsibility for humanitarian assistance (and involve NGOs and Iraqi civil society in aid management and delivery); indicate that the United Nations will take responsibility in organizing (with US support and assistance) the political consultative process leading to a transition to a new Iraqi government; establish an oil oversight board for Iraq; authorize the continuation of the UN’s Oil-for-Food Program; establish a consortium of donors in conjunction with the World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund] to consider Iraqi reconstruction needs as well as debt relief; and indicate that responsibilities in other areas could be transferred to the United Nations and/or other governments as conditions permit.*

Key Recommendation #4: Making Iraqis Stakeholders Throughout the Transition Process: The administration should ensure that Iraqis continue to play key roles in the administration of public institutions, subject to adequate vetting. Continuity of basic services will be essential and will require that thousands of Iraqi civil servants continue to do their jobs. In addition, every effort should be made quickly to establish Iraqi consultative mechanisms on political, constitutional, and legal issues, so that the period of interim governance will be limited and characterized by growing Iraqi responsibility on the political as well as administrative levels.

Additional Recommendation - Making Iraqis Stakeholders:

  • Encourage a geographically based, federal system of government in Iraq. In northern Iraq, the Kurdish population has operated outside of regime control for over a decade. While decisions on Iraq’s constitutional structure should be made by Iraqis, the Task Force believes that a solution short of a federal system will risk conflict in a future Iraq, and that US officials should adopt this perspective in their discussions with Iraqi counterparts and with Iraq’s neighbors.

Other Issues of Concern to the Task Force

The Rule of Law and Accountability: Police training must be supplemented by efforts to build other components of a system of justice, especially courts. The Task Force thus makes the following recommendations:

  • Deploy legal and judicial teams, seek international involvement. The administration should promote the post-conflict deployment of US and international legal and judicial assistance teams to help address immediate and longer term post-conflict justice issues.
  • Act early on accountability, seek international involvement in the process, and ensure a key role for Iraqis. Given the enormity of human rights abuses by the regime, the Task Force believes that accountability issues should be an early priority for the transitional administration. International involvement in the process, either through the creation of an international ad hoc tribunal, or the development of a mixed tribunal, will enhance the prospects for success. The Task Force notes that a truth and reconciliation process could be established concurrently with such a tribunal, as a complement to criminal accountability for those who bear greatest responsibility for abuses.

The Iraqi Oil Industry: US officials will have to develop a posture on a range of questions relating to control of the oil industry, such as how decisions on contracts for equipment and oil field rehabilitation will be made; who will consider and make judgments on the viability of executory contracts for development of oil fields (at least some of which have as a condition precedent the lifting of sanctions); and what will be required for transition from the Oil-for-Food Program to a transparent and accountable indigenous system to receive and disburse oil-related revenues?

The Task Force recommends that the administration strike a careful balance between the need to ensure that oil revenues benefit the people of Iraq and the importance of respecting the right of Iraqis to make decisions about their country’s natural resources. In particular, the administration should undertake the following steps:

  • Emphasize publicly that the United States will respect and defend Iraqi ownership of the country’s economic resources, especially oil; seek an internationally sanctioned legal framework to assure a reliable flow of Iraqi oil and to reserve to a future Iraqi government the determination of Iraq’s general oil policy. The removal of the regime will not alter Iraqi obligations under the existing, UN-managed, legal framework for oil, but it will likely result in the need for modifications. The Task Force believes that a new framework, which could be affirmed by a Security Council resolution, could establish a decision-making oversight board with international and substantial Iraqi participation.
  • Address the potential impact of regime change on Jordanian oil imports from Iraq. The Iraqi regime has provided the government of Jordan with free and heavily discounted oil. It is unclear whether such arrangements would continue in the post-conflict environment. In view of Jordan’s economic situation and its important role on regional and international security issues, the administration should make efforts to address Jordanian needs in this area.

Regional Diplomatic and Security Issues: In the Gulf, US officials will confront the challenge of effectively downsizing the Iraq military while seeking to promote a longer-term security balance in which Iraq’s territorial integrity can be maintained. In the Middle East, a successful US and coalition intervention in Iraq will raise expectations about a new US diplomatic initiative on the Arab-Israeli dispute. On these issues, the Task Force makes the following recommendations:

  • Closely monitor professionalization and restructuring of the Iraqi military, including disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). These tasks are likely to be carried out in large measure by private contractors and/or international development organizations, and will require close supervision of what might otherwise be an uncoordinated effort. In addition, the Bush administration should promote programs in this area that emphasize civilian control of the military and respect for human rights.
  • Consider a regional forum for discussion of security issues. The administration should strongly consider encouraging a security forum with states in the region. The forum could address confidence-building measures, and related issues such as external security guarantees and nonproliferation.
  • Initiate post-conflict action on the Middle East Peace Process. The Task Force encourages the administration to give high priority to an active, post-conflict effort to engage in the peace process, and also believes that any such action by the administration must be accompanied by greater efforts by Arab states and the Palestinian leadership to discourage and condemn acts of terrorism and violence against Israelis and elsewhere in the region.*

* Editor’s Note: The Council on Foreign Relations provided The REVIEW with “uncorrected proofs” of the Executive Summary.

* Editor’s Note: According to the transcript of his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 25, 2003, General Eric K. Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff replied to Senator Carl Levin’s question requesting an estimate of the magnitude of the Army’s force requirement for an occupation of Iraq following a successful completion of the war by stating, “I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required.  We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so, it takes significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment to ensure that the people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this.”

** Editor’s Note: The New York Times of April 2, 2003, reported that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees voted on April 1 to “give the State Department and other agencies authority over the $2.5 billion in post-conflict aid that the Bush administration sought for the Pentagon under an emergency appropriation. ‘The Secretary of State is the appropriate manager of foreign assistance,’ said Representative James Kolbe, an Arizona Republican. ‘Bottom line: reconstruction is a civilian role.’”

* Editor’s Note: The New York Times of April 3, 2003, reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair said in the House of Commons on April 1, 2003, that the “UN must have a preeminent role in post-Saddam Iraq.” As for the United States, The Times wrote that “the State Department would also like a UN presence as a way of easing the anger in Europe and elsewhere toward the American-led military action. The Pentagon is less keen.”

* Copyright © 2003 by the Council on Foreign Relations®, Inc. Reprinted by permission. The Council takes no institutional position on policy issues and has no affiliation with the US government. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion contained in all its publications are the sole responsibility of the author or authors.

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