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  Dwight D. Eisenhower National Security Conference September 25-26, 2003

National Security for the 21st Century - National Power in an Unpredictable World

The definition of national power continues to evolve and change. The world's lone superpower possesses unchallenged dominance, yet its actions are constrained by an increasingly interconnected world. Elsewhere, the evolution of international and regional organizations continues to erode the Westphalian definition of national power. Global interdependence constricts all nations alike. Some view this environment as lacking structure and, therefore, unpredictable. Is it, or must we identify the emerging trends of this new, unnamed era? Through this year's conference, we hope to contribute substantively to this important, on-going national security dialogue. For more information please see www.eisenhowerseries.com.

The International Crisis Group will co-sponsor Panel IV, Iraq: Political and Military Challenges. ICG Vice President Nancy Soderberg will chair the discussion. Panel Charter

As the Eisenhower National Security Conference examines "National Power in an Unpredictable World," the question of Iraq is central. While the ouster of the regime of Saddam Hussein was a military success, the challenge for the U.S. in Iraq is, in the words of the Civilian Administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremmer, to hand the country "over to a democratically elected Iraqi government as soon as we can." To do so, the U.S. will need to wield its national power on several levels: military, political, economic, and in the international arena. Several key issues must be addressed: establishing a secure environment, ensuring a recognized, representative, and functioning Iraqi Interim Governing Council (IGC), rebuilding key infrastructure facilities and ensuring the basic needs of the Iraqi people are met, and devising a democratic political process that will enable the international community to leave behind a stable, responsible Iraqi government.

The political and military challenges facing the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) are daunting. Relief among the Iraqi people at the ouster of the Baathist regime is coupled with uneasiness over foreign rule and a resistance to working with the coalition authorities. While the appointment of the IGC is an important first step toward self-government, the legitimacy of the group, hand-picked by the U.S., remains to be established. While the CPA has succeeded in restoring some sense of normalcy, rebuilding some institutions, and establishing basic services at local levels, the difficulties in restoring general law and order and a functioning infrastructure fuels resentment against the coalition authority and undermines its goals.

The first task of the CPA is to establish security throughout the country. Key steps include establishing a more extensive international military presence and placing more Iraqi police on the street by speeding up training of credible, vetted elements of the old force. The question of a new authority by the United Nations Security Council for a multinational force in Iraq remains central. Senior officers untainted by corruption and regime-related criminality will need to be reappointed and the de-baathification edict will need to be reconsidered. The capture or killing of Saddam Hussein remains an important task.

Second, the legitimacy of the IGC must be established and the division of authority with the CPA must be defined. A gathering of political leaders with mixed popular followings, very little in common, and an awkward nine-person rotating presidency will need strong international support to succeed. For the first time in Iraq's history, sectarian and ethnic criteria have become organizing principles of government. As a result, the balance of power in Iraq has shifted from Sunni Arabs in favor of Shiites and Kurds. In addition, the IGC does not include local, grass roots organizations and is perceived to tilt disproportionately toward the diaspora. While perhaps unfounded, resentment of the diaspora is intense among Iraqi Arabs.

Until national elections are held that will genuinely transfer power to the Iraqi people, coalition forces and the IGC risk facing continued resentment, violence, and increased religious radicalism. In order to empower the Iraqis, the CPA should hand over as much as possible of the administration, day-to-day policy-making, and planning powers at the various ministries. The CPA also should accelerate the holding of elections at the local, municipal, and institutional level, ensuring that they are as transparent and as widely publicized as possible in order to maximize popular support and participation.

In addition, it is important that the process of decision-making be transparent. While the IGC officially has the power to prepare a budget, represent Iraq in international bodies, appoint a constitutional preparatory committee, suspend old legislation, issue interim regulations, and nominate interim cabinet members, the CPA's ultimate "veto" power undermines that authority. Thus, providing a key challenge during this period will be how to lend legitimacy and openness to the process. As the process evolves, the UN's role may be expanded.

This panel will examine these political and military challenges faced by the United States and the international community in Iraq. Panel participants will include representatives from the Iraqi political spectrum, the international community, and the neighboring states. The discussion will examine three key questions:

Security: How can the U.S. and the international community maintain stability, security, and basic services in Iraq? What addition levels and types of troops and security forces are needed? What additional UN authorities will be necessary to secure the necessary security levels?

Political legitimacy: With the establishment of the Iraqi Interim Governing Council (IGC), how can its legitimacy be established? Should the U.S. take a lower profile? Should the United Nations endorse the body and provide it with the Iraqi seat at the United Nations? How can the IGC secure the right balance among Iraqi's disparate political factions? What, if any changes, ought to be sought to the Council's structure?

End game: How does the United States and the international community declare success and depart? What is the role of the regional players in ensuring a stable, post-CPA Iraq? Is a democratic Iraq a realistic goal?


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