While the world sits on the sidelines, the U.S. continues to plug away at progress in Iraq. As we wait to hear the results of the surge, we are provided with a daily media reminder of the failure of the Iraqi government to meet the benchmarks established by the U.S. In the end, will we call this a military fiasco, with pundits claiming we should never have gone to war and that George Bush’s steadfastness was nothing more than stubbornness?
The lens of history provides an opportunity to pave a new path in Iraq. For over five years, the world has watched and doubted. Developed nations with similar interests have lacked the fortitude to become leading fighters in the War on Terror. Except for a select few, some have sent only token troops, most none, and financial aid has been arbitrary and unsteady in the face of continued uncertainty. But, we know from history, that national recovery after war is imperative to the development of free societies.
After WWII, Germany and Japan would never have emerged from the destruction of their totalitarian leadership without financial and political assistance from victor countries. The fall of these governments endangered stability in Europe and the Pacific. Had not the allies shored up these countries, continued conflict would have ensued.
Post WWII set the stage for the seeds of the Cold War, pitting the U.S. and democratic capitalism against Soviet communism. Without stability in Europe and Asia, weak countries could have been surreptitiously shrouded by the cloak of communism, changing forever the future of the world and the people that live in freedom in Europe and Japan.
We face that same risk in Iraq. Without the leadership of all free loving nations, Iraq will be consumed by the forces of extremism that exist in Iran and neighbor countries.
With the military component of the surge operating with a good level of success, thanks to General Petraeus and all the brave men and women on the ground in Iraq, it is time for the world to grasp this opportunity to pave the way for freedom in the Middle East. International financial institutions must be developed to help Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries that desire freedom. Reliance and domination of oil based protectorates in the region must face competition from the global strength of capitalism and democratic will.
After WWII the Bretton Woods agreement, included the United States and 43 other countries, called for international monetary and financial order. In addition, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, now known as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were established both with the explicit goal of providing loans and a variety of assistance programs aimed at the stabilization of financial markets. From history, we know that European nations heavily used these resources to climb out of the destruction of war.
The United States also developed the Marshall Plan, with the goal of coordinating and integrating American and European economic activities. In exchange for massive loans and assistance, European nations were required to promote economic development, stabilize financial markets and furnish the U.S. with needed products and services. Strict goals were established to ensure that European nations become fully independent of foreign assistance. Lastly, in a political effort to strengthen Europe, the US formed NATO in 1949. The goal of NATO was to ensure mutual defense and promote democracy and peace throughout the world. Many of these institutions continue to exist and thrive today.
Any nation cannot fully consider and implement political processes when its citizens don’t have the most basic necessities of food, shelter, utilities and jobs. The financial strength of Iraq must serve as the second phase in the reconstruction of this nation.
To assure the people of Iraq that the U.S. will not cut and run, treaties with free nations must pledge mutual defense and support of this emerging nation. Financial incentives must be provided for the goods and services produced within Iraq and pledges of billions of dollars today and into the future must be secured, not only from the U.S. but from all the other nations of the world. A piecemeal approach will not work and existing organizations, such as the United Nations, are inappropriate forums as a result of their somewhat dubious membership requirements. The Secretary of State and other national leaders must bring together the leaders of Western nations that have a clear interest in the stabilization of this region to form a consensus on the future financial and political direction of assistance in Iraq.
The U.S. military and its allies have provided the groundwork for the next phase of the reconstruction process. The world has an opportunity to move Iraq forward with targeted financial assistance and political support. Or, the world has the opportunity to blame the U.S. military and leadership for a failed war in Iraq. The U.S. leadership must focus not on the question of when and how many troops should leave, but on how to develop a council of free nations that promote and stabilize the financial markets and political processes within Iraq.