the major byproducts of a campaign to rid the world of the grave
threat posed by Iraq's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
will be the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. In the aftermath
of such a campaign, the United States should help the Iraqi people
establish a new federal system of governance that provides
representation for all the people of Iraq and that poses no threat
to America's national interests, its allies, or stability in the
oil-rich Persian Gulf region.
no circumstances should the United States advocate the kind of
top-down, highly centralized "nation-building" experiments that the
Clinton Administration tried unsuccessfully in Haiti, Somalia,
Kosovo, and Bosnia. That approach failed in those cases precisely
because it ignored the unique political realities on the ground. To
be effective, a new post-war Iraqi government must be pluralist,
one that is inclusive of the three major sub-national groups in
Iraq and that advances their interests. A decentralized federal
political system offers the best means of assuring local autonomy,
protection against the return of a tyrannical central government, a
fair share in the political settlement in Iraq, and an equitable
disbursement of Iraq's oil and tax revenues.
political model exists for such a successful post-war Iraqi
federation--the so-called Great Compromise of 1787 that enabled the
creation of America's constitutional arrangement among the states.
In Iraq's case, this type of system would give each of the
country's three major sub-groups equal representation in an upper
house of the legislature in order to protect their own interests at
the national level.
United States must implement a clear political strategy for
post-Saddam Iraq. It should stress that while the specific details
of the ultimate political settlement will be determined by the
Iraqi people, Washington will first lay out the broad contours of
an acceptable accord for the post-war government. Iraq's post-war
- Pose no threat to its neighbors;
- Cooperate in the elimination of Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, in accordance
with U.N. resolutions; and
- Build an inclusive, broad-based ruling
coalition sensitive to the interests of all the country's ethnic
and religious groups, especially the interests of its three major
groups, the Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs, and Kurds.
Ideally, the post-Saddam Iraq will be one
that espouses democratic and free-market principles, that is
pro-Western and that cooperates extensively in the war against
terrorism, and that supports a negotiated solution to the
Arab-Israeli conflict. However, measuring the success of U.S.
policy in Iraq should not be defined by these highly ambitious
goals, but by how well more realistic war aims are achieved.
Specifically, to help the Iraqi people build a stable, friendly,
and non-threatening state, the Administration should:
- Strengthen and help unify Iraq's
political opposition. Iraq's long-suffering opposition
movements, neglected by Washington in both prior Administrations,
not only could play a helpful role in removing Saddam Hussein's
regime from power, but also in forming the foundation for a stable
post-Saddam government. The Administration should provide immediate
enhanced economic aid, logistical assistance, organizational
training, and technical advice to the widest possible variety of
Iraqi opposition groups.
- Encourage the formation of a
provisional government-in-exile. The Administration should
press rival Iraqi opposition groups to form a unified provisional
government-in-exile as soon as possible. Six opposition groups sent
representatives to Washington in early August for high-level
meetings with Bush Administration officials, and they plan to
convene a conference somewhere in Europe in the near future to
discuss the formation of a provisional government. The
Administration should work to help rival opposition leaders
overcome political obstacles to the formation of an Iraqi
government-in-exile. The establishment of such a body would raise
the morale of the opposition groups, give wavering supporters of
Saddam's dictatorship added incentive to defect, give the diffuse
political opposition a single and more authoritative voice, and
help make the case for liberating the Iraqi people to skeptical
nations around the world.
- Purge Iraq of Saddam's Ba'athist
regime. After Saddam Hussein is ousted, his supporters in
the security services, Republican Guard, government bureaucracies,
and his radical pan-Arab socialist Ba'ath Party will continue to
pose a long-term threat to the survival of a post-Saddam
government. The United States should work with a post-war
government to cleanse Iraq of Saddam's lieutenants both in his
regime and in the Ba'ath Party.
- Help Iraqis build a loose
federation. The Administration should persuade the leaders
of Iraq's Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs, and Kurds that a federal
political system is the best means of assuring local autonomy,
protecting against the return of a tyrannical central government,
and assuring them an equitable share in the disbursement of Iraq's
oil and tax revenues. A decentralized federal system that would
best fit the political realities on the ground and meet the needs
of Iraq's people should be constitutional.
will be up to the Iraqis themselves to establish a state after
Saddam Hussein's regime falls and its weapons of mass destruction
are destroyed. They must build a new state that will protect and
represent all the people of Iraq, that will not threaten U.S.
interests or regional stability, and that ensures international
access to its rich oil resources. In Iraq, the facts on the ground
mean that the United States should push for the formation of a
decentralized federal government, which would stand the best chance
of ensuring stability and long-term peace. But it is ultimately up
to the Iraqis themselves to flesh out the details of that political
settlement. The United States should facilitate a positive outcome,
suggest a course of action, and encourage the political and
regional elites to reach agreement to put in place a political
system that gives the various ethnic and religious groups a real
stake in its success.
Hulsman, Ph.D., is Research Fellow in European Affairs,
Phillips is Research Fellow in Middle Eastern Affairs, in the
Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies
at The Heritage Foundation.