Rendering an account on Iraq.The first anniversary of the beginning of the 2003 war against Iraq is upon us.
Like good and faithful stewards, it is time for the Bush administration to give an accounting to its employer, the U.S. public. Some questions relative to the Iraq war Iraq War: see under Persian Gulf Wars.
or Second Persian Gulf War
Brief conflict in 2003 between Iraq and a combined force of troops largely from the U.S. and Great Britain; and a subsequent U.S. and the period following for those entrusted with the nation's future--and honest answers from them--might include:
What has been achieved over the past year?
* Saddam Hussein's brutal, self-serving, and surprisingly incompetent regime has been removed from power. Most of the former regime's key players have been killed or captured, including Saddam himself.
* Oil production has finally been restored close to the pre-war levels, but it remains below pre-1990 levels.
* Electric power, rationed before the war and completely lost during the U.S.-UK bombardment, is back on more than it is off.
* Schools have been rebuilt and re-opened, and hospitals are receiving medical supplies.
* At the provincial and local (town and village) levels, the Iraqi people are choosing councils to discuss and resolve local issues. Baghdad alone has 88 such councils. Civil society is beginning to emerge in many areas, but its development remains susceptible to the security situation.
* A "Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period" has been adopted by the U.S.-appointed, 25-member Iraqi Governing Council The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) was the provisional government of Iraq from July 13, 2003 to June 1, 2004. It was established by and served under the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). . Due to go into effect July 1, 2004, it is to serve as the guide for elections of a National Assembly, the appointment of an interim government, the writing of and referendum on a new Iraqi Constitution, and the election of a full-fledged federal-style government. On the other hand, it may only lead to divisive wrangling and the disintegration of Iraq.
What remains to be done? How long will it take?
* Find the weapons of mass destruction Weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Weapons of mass destruction can be high explosives or nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons, but exclude the means of transporting or that the Bush administration said made Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein
(born April 28, 1937, Tikrit, Iraq—died Dec. 30, 2006, Baghdad) President of Iraq (1979–2003). He joined the Ba'th Party in 1957. Following participation in a failed attempt to assassinate Iraqi Pres. an imminent threat Imminent threat is a standard criterion in international law, developed by Daniel Webster, for when the need for action is "instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation. to the U.S., the original justification for starting this war. The search may be scaled back by the June 30 transition of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) سلطة الائتلاف الموحدة was established as a transitional government following the invasion of Iraq by the United States, (CPA (Computer Press Association, Landing, NJ) An earlier membership organization founded in 1983 that promoted excellence in computer journalism. Its annual awards honored outstanding examples in print, broadcast and electronic media. The CPA disbanded in 2000. ) to the transitional government; it probably will end by December 2005 when the permanent government is to be elected.
* Obtain as soon as possible a full and public explanation of the use or abuse of information by the intelligence agencies in forming their judgments, and the use or abuse of intelligence by policymakers in their communications with the U.S. public and with other governments.
* Provide reliable, consistent physical security for the Iraqi population. The old regime had, at most, passing interactions with al Qaeda "adherents." Now Iraq has become a battleground not only involving disaffected dis·af·fect·ed
Resentful and rebellious, especially against authority.
disaf·fect Iraqis but also extremists targeting U.S. forces and Iraqis working with the U.S.-led CPA or foreign military forces. This may not be achieved for as long as five years, and certainly not until a better trained, reliable police force, border police, and regular army are available.
* Rebuild Iraq. While a start has been made, the remaining tasks are enormous. Other nations have pledged about $14 billion for this effort; the U.S. contribution so far is more than $20 billion. Estimates of the final cost vary, but most are in the $75 to $100 billion range, with some predicting as much as $200 billion over the next decade.
* Ensure to the extent possible a real and complete transition to democratic governance from the CPA to the transitional authority to the interim
government to a permanent, popularly elected government by December 2005. The UN should exercise independent authority to help in this transformation.
* Assist nongovernmental organizations Transnational organizations of private citizens that maintain a consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Nongovernmental organizations may be professional associations, foundations, multinational businesses, or simply groups with a common interest in in their attempts to count Iraqi civilian fatalities, provide restitution to survivors, and compensate those Iraqis wounded by coalition forces for their injuries.
What has been fundamentally changed by this war?
* Iraqi society, but exactly how remains undetermined other than a change in leadership. Political, ethnic, religious, and gender relationships, rights, and responsibilities are all in flux. The new Constitution, yet to be written, if approved (which may be a major hurdle) will establish a framework on which these considerations can be arranged and woven into a national fabric. But how strong the fabric will be will not be known until it is tested--which might take years.
* Enmity toward the U.S. has increased in the Islamic world as a whole, even in Turkey, a NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion. ally.
* The U.S. administration has enshrined--and, in invading Iraq, attempted to justify--as policy the concept of preventive war A war initiated in the belief that military conflict, while not imminent, is inevitable, and that to delay would involve greater risk. , which previous administrations had only "reserved the right" to use.
* Control of the Spanish government
* U.S. military spending increases have accelerated, deficits have mushroomed, and the national debt and the annual cost to finance it have ballooned.
* For Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, the accelerating military budget--$471 billion if a $50 million supplemental emergency spending bill is requested in January 2005, as expected--will rival the anticipated federal deficit of $477 billion for FY2004.
* Interest payments on the burgeoning debt, driven largely by the two "policies of choice"--the war in Iraq and tax cuts--will increase dramatically under the Bush administration's forecast. While military spending as a percentage of federal outlays is projected to drop from 18.8% in FY2005 to 17.1% in FY2009, net interest on the debt will climb from 7.4% of federal outlays in FY2005 to 10.5% in FY2009.
* Net interest is the only budget "superfunction" (the others are national defense, human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. , physical resources, and "other") that is forecast to increase as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP GDP (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine. ) over the same time period--and that in the face of total federal outlays themselves decreasing as a percentage of GDP.
* Increased wariness among other states of U.S. unilateral motives for action, with a predictably less hospitable hos·pi·ta·ble
1. Disposed to treat guests with warmth and generosity.
2. Indicative of cordiality toward guests: a hospitable act.
3. reception for U.S. suggestions and less support for positions favored by Washington.
What has been lost or placed in jeopardy?
* Lives: more than 565 U.S. military and civilians, including 15 military and 6 U.S. civilians in March alone.
* Lives: 59 UK military and more than 40 others from coalition nations.
* Lives: 21 UN workers.
* Lives: an estimated 10,100 Iraqi civilians and an unknown number of Iraqi military.
* Lives: 201 civilians in Madrid on March 11, 2004.
* Lives: all the physically and psychologically wounded, including the seven Iraq war veterans who committed suicide after their return to the U.S.
* The positive image of the U.S. in the world and the credibility of U.S. intelligence among U.S. allies.
* U.S. relations with NATO allies and other friends.
* The economic well-being of future U.S. generations saddled with the increased debt.
* Continued presence of Spanish troops (1,300) in the coalition force; these will leave by June 30 unless the UN passes a new resolution specifically endorsing the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq. Others have indicated similar sentiments.
* International law and the foundations of international law. So long as the U.S. elects to act unilaterally or with coalitions of "the willing" or of "the intimidated in·tim·i·date
tr.v. in·tim·i·dat·ed, in·tim·i·dat·ing, in·tim·i·dates
1. To make timid; fill with fear.
2. To coerce or inhibit by or as if by threats. ," the development of viable international security structures will continue to be undermined.
What was (or should have been) learned?
* Preventive (the administration's "preemptive pre·emp·tive or pre-emp·tive
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of preemption.
2. Having or granted by the right of preemption.
a. ") war cannot be "justified."
* In peace operations A broad term that encompasses peacekeeping operations and peace enforcement operations conducted in support of diplomatic efforts to establish and maintain peace. Also called PO. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacekeeping; and peacemaking. and nation-building (or rebuilding) endeavors, well-planned, swift responses are required to prevent the development of a security and public safety vacuum. It is less costly if the intervening multinational force A force composed of military elements of nations who have formed an alliance or coalition for some specific purpose. Also called MNF. See also multinational force commander; multinational operations. is powerful enough to be unmistakably "in charge" vis-a-vis armed groups, which might otherwise try to intimidate in·tim·i·date
tr.v. in·tim·i·dat·ed, in·tim·i·dat·ing, in·tim·i·dates
1. To make timid; fill with fear.
2. To coerce or inhibit by or as if by threats. the population or even seize control of the country in question.
* Building coalitions and obtaining the backing of the UN spreads the responsibilities, burdens, and costs of diplomatic and--where necessary--military actions. Strong coalitions, endorsed by the UN, by presenting a solid world front, can induce a retreat from confrontation by a state whose policies and actions are offensive to the majority of nations.
* The UN is, in general, better equipped to undertake the necessary tasks of political transition and democratic change than are individual nation-states.
* Diplomacy is less expensive in human and financial terms than war and war's aftermath.
* Democracy cannot be imposed by force or by an outside power.
* In war as in all life, the law of unintended consequences For the "Law of unintended consequences", see Unintended consequence
Unintended Consequences is a novel by author John Ross, first published in 1996 by Accurate Press. governs. Reality has an iron law of its own: one never knows what one doesn't know until those unknowns reveal themselves.
Above all, war is not the answer.
Dan Smith <email@example.com> is a military affairs analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org), a retired U.S. army colonel and a senior fellow on Military Affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) a public lobby organization founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends. FCNL is a 501(c)(4) public interest lobby. It is neither a political action committee (PAC) nor a special interest lobby. .