Administering . . . and Rebuilding
Byline: Bruce Fein, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The United States should administer Iraq decisively with United States and international civil servants protected by a muscular Unites States military. A democratic dispensation should be shelved until its economy is thriving and domestic tranquility is unworrisome. The creation of the Iraqi Governing Council, composed of 25 unelected and fractious Iraqi grandees, to assume administrative powers and to arrange for a new Iraqi constitution within 18-24 months was ill-advised and should be abandoned.
At present, what counts for most Iraqis is less their form of government than that it is well administered. Their peeves pivot on erratic utilities, a languishing economy, and a feeble administration of justice. Few are clamoring for immediate elections or the luxury of democratic paralysis or irresolution to be expected from an Iraqi assembly. Self-government, furthermore, would be a novelty in Iraq. Human nature anguishes more over a loss of democratic freedoms than a deferral of their birth.
As the inimitable sage Sam Johnson lectured, a man is never so innocently occupied as when he is making money. The stimulation of economic expansion in Iraq is thus urgent to its reconstruction and eventual democratic blossoming. That requires domestic and foreign investment and open markets earmarked by freedom of contract. But long-term investment is frightened by political imponderables that could make a $100 million plant worthless overnight with no legal remedy. Political constancy and a legal system delivering speedy and reliable justice are indispensable to economic growth and climbing employment.
For the foreseeable future, only a United States authority and administration can promise both to excite investors. Reinforced by our peerless military, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, could guarantee unchanging American political control and free market economics for a period of years commensurate with long-term planning by private enterprise. Ministries could by manned by seasoned retired U.S. or international civil servants, as has been done in Kosovo, East Timor and Bosnia.
In contrast to Iraqis, these ministerial officials would be untempted by political ambition or personal loyalties to compromise an evenhanded discharge of their duties. Investors and entrepreneurs would be buoyed by confidence in bureaucratic regularity and predictable administration. Hong Kong's miracle is instructive. It dwarfs Communist China in wealth and economic magnetism largely because of the honesty of its civil service.
What is thwarting an Iraqi economic boom and fueling popular restiveness is the uncertain political landscape caused by the untested Iraqi Governing Council. According to a report in The Washington Post last Saturday, aides to two of its members said that the 25 appointees would name Cabinet ministers and establish a committee to commence drafting a constitution in two weeks. …