16 July 2003
In Battling Terrorism, Patience Is Needed in Securing Peace
Op-ed column by U.S. Senator Dick Lugar in July
15 Chicago Tribune
(This column by U.S. Senator Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), who is Chairman
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, published in the Chicago
Tribune July 15, is in the public domain. No republication restrictions.)
Patience in Securing Peace
By Dick Lugar
(In battling terrorism, the American public is going to have to
accept the fact it will be a long-term endeavor)
The United States' decisive military victories in Afghanistan
and Iraq are not the end of our war on terrorism but only, to paraphrase
Churchill, the end of the beginning. Our battlefield success could
be undone by our difficulties in securing the peace. If we let
Afghanistan re-emerge as a failed state, or allow Iraq to become
one, they will be incubators of terrorism and a source of anti-Americanism
throughout the Muslim world.
Enemy elements are still shooting at our soldiers and saboteurs
are undermining our efforts to fix the power and water systems.
We need to move as quickly as possible, with more troops if necessary,
to make the streets safe and restore basic services, to achieve
our goal of creating a stable country that is a friend of the United
States. The longer Iraqis' expectations remain thwarted, the harder
it will be to win their trust.
While we must act with urgency now, we must also have patience
in the long term. Rebuilding Iraq will take years. We must prepare
our thinking and our institutions for this fact. Before the war,
our planners thought that once we decapitated Saddam Hussein's
regime and ousted his Baathist cronies, the rest of the bureaucrats
and police would show up for work and help run the country. That
was a disastrous miscalculation. On my recent trip to Baghdad,
every government building I saw had been stripped clean by looters.
Not only do we have to train Iraqi policemen -- like the seven
young recruits recently murdered by Iraqis in a cold-blooded bombing
outside Baghdad -- we have to build from scratch the classrooms
in which to train them.
Simply stated, we have become nation-builders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the war on terrorism we face, as we did in the Cold War, an
implacable enemy who will not be defeated quickly. The "Why are
we still here?" questions from our soldiers on the ground and the
talk of "quagmire" in the press at home show that our leaders need
to lay this out clearly to the public.
Afghanistan and Iraq aren't Somalia or Lebanon; deaths of American
servicemen are not reasons for retreat. President Bush has wisely
set no artificial deadline for leaving. We will stay as long as
we need to create a stable country. Let's stop dismissing nation-building
as "international social work," somehow unworthy of a great power.
To the contrary, it's a basic step toward victory in the war on
Based on the lessons we've learned in Afghanistan and Iraq, we
need a five-year plan for rebuilding Iraq's government and the
economy, with a budget detailing domestic expenditures and investments,
how much money will come from Iraq itself, the United States, and
from other countries, and how it will be disbursed. Five years
may be too short or too long, but Iraqis, Americans and people
throughout the world need clear evidence that we will stay the
course. On the ground in Baghdad, the doubts are palpable: how
long will the Americans last? How soon before they tire and pack
up? Without an uncompromising show of resolve, the war could be
lost through self-doubt, recriminations, and second-guessing from
the easily discouraged.
A solid American commitment is vital to secure international help,
both in peacekeepers and other reconstruction workers, as well
as money. All the major nations, whatever their stance before the
war, have a stake in bringing about a stable Iraq. Equally important,
adding more players to the team will put an international face
on reconstruction, rather than an exclusively American one, bringing
more legitimacy to the process in the eyes of both Iraqis and many
skeptics in the Muslim world.
Robust foreign participation will also help convince Americans
at home, whose support is vital to success, that the U.S. isn't
shouldering the load alone. Rosy pre-war assumptions that Iraqi
oil revenues would pay for rebuilding were wildly off the mark,
and we can't get meaningful international donations and investments
without a serious, persuasive budget.
For the long term, we need to reorganize our military to fight
the new terrorist foe. Just as we structured our armed forces to
counter the Soviets during the Cold War, our military must complete
its transition to a force prepared to battle terrorism across a
broad front. We've already done part of the job: the successes
in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate that we can strike and defeat
an enemy anywhere in the world. Now we need to go further and develop
a military that can perform just as brilliantly the day after major
combat ends. Future conflicts will almost surely require the same
kind of national rehabilitation we're struggling with today.
The Pentagon has traditionally been reluctant to commit American
troops to peacekeeping missions, and some of our military officers
insist that policing functions are not appropriate for U.S. forces
because they can erode war-fighting capabilities. Therefore I was
pleased to see Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's recent speech
opening the door to consideration of a standing, U.S.-led international
peacekeeping corps. We need to recognize that in battling terrorism,
post-combat chaos, whether the result of looting, the lack of police
and civil administrators, or other causes, threatens our national
security, and we must develop the capacity to deal with it.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs,
U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)