Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Reconstruction of Iraq

Iraq has just turned a page of her history, with the fall of a dictatorship and the hope for a better future. Yet a tragic cycle of disorder and violence has set in. Attacks have been proliferating. Fanaticism and hatred have struck everywhere: the Jordanian embassy, the United Nations, and the Mausoleum of the Imam Ali in Najaf. We are now facing the real risk of seeing the continuation of a spiral of failure fuelled by the lack of a tangible political way forward. This situation is throwing international organizations in Iraq into disarray and arousing the anxiety of all those on the ground. The gravest danger is that of the Iraqi people falling into apathy and despair. Only an injection of new momentum, supported by the international community can make it possible to break this deadlock.

* * *

Everyone’s responsibility is quite clear.

President Bush has indicated his will to make overtures, which we welcome. Yet the draft resolution presented at the Security Council testifies to still-limited progress in the role allotted to the United Nations. As a result, we find ourselves in an increasingly paradoxical situation: can we ask the UN to intervene more broadly on the ground without giving it the ability to act or the essential security conditions? Indeed, can the draft resolution be seen as building on what has already been done? Is it equal to the situation? Is it likely to curb the forces causing the breakdown in Iraq? We don’t think so.

Far be it from us to play down the scale of the task and its complexity, or to maintain the illusion that it’s an easy one. But we have one conviction: by continuing on the current path we run the risk of entering a spiral from which there is no exit. Time is short. In the wake of the war, the direct administration of Iraq by coalition forces has aroused, despite sustained efforts, a persistent malaise among the population. This has delayed still further the restoration of essential public services, the rebuilding of infrastructures. The Iraqis’ legitimate expectations have been disappointed.

But another path remains possible: placing the Iraqi people at the heart of the reconstruction process, and invoking the responsibility of the international community.

* * *

We all share the same goal: establishing stability and creating the conditions for rebuilding Iraq. France is ready to work within the Security Council with the United States and the other countries on the ground for the benefit of Iraq. But we must put an end to ambiguity, which would lead to a failure for the Iraqi people, with the risk of discrediting the international community. This presumes a radically new approach.

This is all the more important in that the entire region is under threat. We all realize that the problem goes beyond Iraq: it’s the stability of the Arab and Muslim world that is at stake. In the Middle East, an exclusively security-oriented approach is only maintaining the cycle of violence and reprisals at the risk of destroying political prospects. This approach–let’s be brave enough to say it–is leading nowhere. Far from promoting stability, it is fanning resentment, incomprehension and frustration. Everywhere terrorist organizations are taking advantage of the least sign of weakness to strengthen their presence and fuel a violence that concerns us all.

* * *

How can we escape from this trap and create the conditions for stability in Iraq?

First and foremost, let us acknowledge that the foreign presence itself is a focal point. Regardless of everyone’s goodwill, it crystallizes people’s frustrations, creates a focus for discontent, distorts the political situation: all the parties involved are determining their stance in relation to it instead of mobilizing on behalf of Iraq. The reconstruction effort requires people to work on a clear basis, and thus establishing a deadline for the ending of the current transition period. That is the key to any progress. It is important above all to respect Iraqi national identity, nurtured by thousands of years of history and source of the country’s future stability. Conversely, we must avoid reinforcing divisions among particular groups or communities.

Iraq is a land of memory. Her attachment to her traditions and her identity have already led her to reject the outside control that some have tried to impose. The result, throughout the last century, was upheavals that profoundly shook the country. From revolution to coup d’etat, the country has been unable to find the peace to which it deeply aspires.

Today it is urgent to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people themselves, to allow them to fully shoulder their responsibilities. Then the different communities will, I hope, find the strength to work together. Then a step forward will have been taken towards greater justice: indeed, it is up to the Iraqis to make the decisions that will affect the future of their country. But it’s also a matter of effectiveness: for the various Iraqi communities as for neighbouring States, only the prospect of a sovereign political destiny can nurture hope and allow the society to rebuild itself.

Does that mean the immediate departure of coalition forces? Certainly not. Indeed, there are many who justly stress that such a move would create a vacuum worse than the current situation. These forces could remain under the command of the main troop contributor. Should more countries participate? The main thing, in our view, is not to increase the number of soldiers on the ground, but to give them a specific UN mandate for their job–one that has a time limit and requires submitting regular, detailed reports to the Security Council. In particular, one of the priorities today is to secure the borders and put a stop to infiltrations. A redeployment of coalition forces could be considered, in cooperation with the Iraqis, in order to address this major risk.

Let us accelerate the training of an Iraqi national army on the model of what we are doing in Afghanistan. That requires calling to some extent upon demobilized Iraqi forces, whose know-how will be indispensable to re-establishing security in a lasting way. The same thing should be done for the police force. In the long run, we could achieve a division of responsibilities more respectful of Iraqi sovereignty and no doubt more effective as well: external security as a priority for UN forces and domestic security for the Iraqi authorities.

* * *

In this context, at a time when negotiations are beginning on a new resolution in New York, we propose the following sequence:

The present Iraqi institutions, i.e. the Governing Council and recently appointed ministers, would be considered by the UN Security Council as the guardians of Iraqi sovereignty during the transition period. Very soon, perhaps in a month, an interim Iraqi government could be established based on these bodies with executive powers progressively transferred to it, including economic and budgetary activities.

A personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General would be mandated to organize consultations with existing Iraqi institutions and the coalition authorities and to muster support from the States of the region. This envoy would report back to the Council and propose a timetable for the gradual transfer of powers to the interim government and the modalities for completing this political transformation.

This timetable should provide for all the stages of a constitutional process with the aim of presenting a draft text by the end of the year. A general election could be envisioned as soon as possible, by spring 2004.

* * *

In this context, France is ready to assume all her responsibilities. As soon as Iraqi sovereignty is re-established, an international conference could be convened to deal with all the problems linked to the country’s reconstruction. It would aim to re-establish the unity and effectiveness of international action to assist Iraq. In the area of security, decisions will have to be made on contributions to the future UN force as well as the training of the army and police force. Likewise, commitments will have to be defined concerning economic aid and the modalities of assistance to be provided to get the Iraqi administration functioning properly again.

This is what lies behind the proposals we are bringing to the Security Council. We are doing so in a spirit of dialogue with the United States and all our other partners. On Saturday in Geneva we will be meeting the other permanent members of the Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, convinced that the international community can forge its unity around a demanding and ambitious project.

It is an unprecedented challenge. It demands that we understand and adapt to the realities on the ground. It also demands that each one of us forget our past quarrels and abandon ideological biases. The reconstruction of Iraq is a shared duty.

Dominique de Villepin is France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. This essay was originally published in the “Le Monde” newspaper.

 

More articles by:
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail