The New Iraq
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MARGARET WARNER: To help us sort through the immediate challenges ahead for General Garner’s operation, we’re joined by former Ambassador Richard Sklar, President Clinton’s special representative for reconstruction following the war in Bosnia; New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly: He directed the international police monitors in Haiti, a U.S.-led force that sought to end human rights abuses and establish an interim police force there; Bob Perito, a former Foreign Service officer and justice department official involved with peacekeeping and post-conflict operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and elsewhere; he’s now special adviser to the rule of law program at the United States Institute of Peace; and Adeed Dawisha, a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio, who’s written widely on the politics of the Middle East. Born in Iraq, he’s now an American citizen. Welcome to you all.
If the aim, as General Garner said, is to establish a different environment, Bob Perito, what is the most urgent thing he has to address first?
BOB PERITO: I think the most urgent thing he has to address first is establishing security and the rule of law. And this is going to involve more than just bringing back a few Iraqi police officers. It’s going to take vetting and retraining the Iraqi police, establishing a viable judicial system, and a prison system that conforms with international human rights standards.
MARGARET WARNER: Ray Kelly, that sounds a little like what your brief was in Haiti. How hard is it to do this and how do you go about it?
COMMISSIONER RAYMOND KELLY: Well, I think this situation is much more complex than it was in Haiti. The first thing you do is monitor the police closely. You have to be right on top of them. And to do that, the only force available, of course, is U.S. forces. In Haiti, we had professional police officers from 20 countries. That construct is not there. As Bob said, you have to vet the existing police. Obviously you’re going to have to put some of them back on the street. That’s not particularly easy to do. We’re going to have to use our own intelligence community to help in that regard and also Iraqis that we trust. But it is a heavy lift. There’s no question about it. You have conflicting religious issues, tribal issues, you have, I assume most of the leadership of the police force are Ba’ath Party members. We have to ask ourselves is that who we want to reinstall in power? So it’s a very complex situation.
MARGARET WARNER: Bob Perito, I know you’ve looked closely at the various components of the regime security and police structure. Are there elements, at least, of that institution that can be used, built upon, and what elements cannot?
BOB PERITO: Well, Saddam ruled through a series of organizations that we generally call the security services. These were loyal to him, and these institutions have to be dismantled and done away with. Below that was a strata of professional police officers. And historically the national police of Iraq had a reputation for integrity, professionalism and honesty. And I think this group of people, this institution can be rehabilitated and reformed, but it’s going to take effort and it’s going to take training and it’s going to take some time.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you agree with Ray Kelly that the only people right now there to do it are the U.S. military?
BOB PERITO: Well, that’s right. Also, but General Garner’s team also has civilian law enforcement professionals in it. And these people are have been through this process in other parts of the world. And they’re going to play a major role in this as well.
MARGARET WARNER: Ray Kelly, how hard was it to take police officers who were used to operating one way, including what we might consider certain…with a certain element of brutality, and quickly training them to operate in another way and still be the law and order force in the country?
COMMISSIONER RAYMOND KELLY: Well, we had such an overwhelming presence there that it clearly was an intimidation factor. Again, as I said, we monitored the police very closely. We simply didn’t allow them to go out on patrol without having a monitor with them. It doesn’t appear to me that we have the forces there to do that right now. It is going to be a significant change. They were the instrumentality of a repressive regime, so we’re going to have to do a fair amount of training to the police officers that Bob thinks may be salvageable. So I think, again, more difficult certainly in this situation than it was in Haiti.
MARGARET WARNER: Professor Dawisha, how workable does this element of Garner’s project sound to you in an environment in which so many members of the old regime and the old apparatus are around?
ADEED DAWISHA: It is going to be difficult. It will depend on what kind of information he gets, to what extent there is cooperation from the various elements within the police force and within society as a whole. He will have to depend on the expatriates who have their own information. I’m actually encouraged by the number of people who have come forward from society as a whole. Doctors, engineers, pharmacists, scientists, as well as policemen wanting their jobs back and actually pointing fingers at those who had kind of committed some human rights violations.
This is encouraging, but it’s not going to be easy, particularly as members of the Ba’ath Party are still at large and from what we’ve seen so far are quite able at sabotaging the efforts by the coalition forces to bring some kind of normalcy to Iraq.
MARGARET WARNER: What do you mean that we’ve seen them sabotaging the efforts already? What would you point to?
ADEED DAWISHA: Well, just look at the huge demonstrations that occurred after the Friday prayers last Friday. About fifteen-twenty thousand people came out onto the streets. These people did not come out as a result of some spontaneous kind of passion against the coalition forces. They had hundreds upon hundreds of banners that were already ready for them. They were large. They had some really kind of written in good English and excellent Arabic, things that have been already made for them maybe a day or two earlier and basically thrust into their hands to go out in the streets and demonstrate.
Also, if you look at the demonstration, you could easily pick out the ones who are leading the chants, the ones who are arousing the emotions of the crowd. The group that’s doing that or has done, actually are groups that are associated with the old regime, probably second-tier Ba’ath Party members who probably are worried that the longer the coalition forces stay, then the greater the chances of the Ba’ath Party being banned and its assets stripped. And that’s not going to serve their own interests.
MARGARET WARNER: So Ambassador Sklar, how does General Garner operate in this environment? I mean he’s supposed to make the trains run on time, but he’s operating in this political environment in which there are people calling for him to leave.
RICHARD SKLAR: Well, on the security front, I would quickly go as we did in Bosnia to European leaders, with all due respect to Ray Kelly’s competence, I think he’d agree that if we had some great Irish or Danish or Dutch policemen coming in with three or four hundred Europeans, we’d do several things. We’d bring that professional training and we’d take the focus away from the U.S. We have to get the focus off us and on to an international effort. And I think the police is the first place to start. Kelly has a difficult job on all counts, but I do agree security first and I would advocate bringing in our European allies as the leaders of this police reform rather than letting it be the U.S. military or even U.S. civilian police.
MARGARET WARNER: And based on your experience, what would you recommend he do about Ba’ath Party members and others who, one, may have committed crimes in the past but, two, are out and trying to sabotage his efforts?
RICHARD SKLAR: Well, I think they’re out trying to sabotage but I think there’s also an uprising out of the Shiite community who have been long repressed. I’m not sure it’s Ba’athist as much as it is an attempt to gain power. I think a de-Nazification, as was done in Germany, ought to be tried. And I think you ought to look to the local community, not to exiles and not even our intelligence forces to determine who are the trusted members of the community. The community knows which policeman directed traffic and which assisted the lost child and arrested their son or daughter and took them away for torture. We have to go to the local communities to identify individuals who can be trained to do the security work.
MARGARET WARNER: Back to you, Bob Perito. Now, you talked about a rule of law including a justice system. How do you set up a justice system in which people, whether they’re looters or whatever, are punished for crimes, and whose law prevails?
BOB PERITO: This is intriguing. I think we’ve missed a step in Iraq that we took in Haiti, Kosovo and Bosnia. That was the creation of an international police force that could come in with the training, the monitoring and the effective supervision. We don’t have that as well for the judicial system. Like the police, the regular judicial system of Iraq had a tradition of independence, impartiality and honesty; that was suppressed during the Saddam regime under revolutionary courts, ad hoc tribunals all kinds of things which the Saddam regime did to, you know, to avoid the rule of law. I think this basic judicial system can be rehabilitated and reformed.
But once again, we need international jurists, lawyers, prosecutors, court administrators to come in and work with the Iraqis and train them and bring them back up to international standards. The same is true of the prison system as well.
MARGARET WARNER: Ray Kelly, what would you add to that in terms of the justice-dispensing side of this system?
COMMISSIONER RAYMOND KELLY: I think Bob is absolutely right. I would say in retrospect we didn’t do that very well in Haiti. We didn’t pay enough attention to the judicial or the penal system. And we paid a price for that. Obviously we’re taking people into custody; they’re being arrested. You need a system that’s functioning to handle them. Right now it’s dormant. I would say a system that worked 35 years ago is going to be pretty hard to resurrect in the short term. So, again lots of challenges here.
MARGARET WARNER: Professor Dawisha, back to you. What does Jay Garner do, also, about different factions that are just asserting authority by themselves? There was a story today I think in the Washington Post about a gentleman who has proclaimed himself mayor of Baghdad and he’s holding court and dispensing decisions. What do you do about people like that?
ADEED DAWISHA: Well, I think, you know, General Garner has to use diplomacy and wisdom as well as some strong-arm methods. People like that are going to come and go. A man like this took advantage of the kind of chaos and the looting and the lack of law and order that existed in Baghdad and proclaimed himself mayor. He says that he was elected by a group of tribal leaders, professionals and religious leaders. It’s not very clear who these people are.
But nevertheless, when Garner takes over in Baghdad, he will be able to remove people when he sees fit. He has the power behind him. And I think that as the, kind of the progress towards more normalcy occurs, when basic services are rendered, electricity is back, security is improved, more and more policemen come into the fold and start working with the Americans, as people begin to see that the situation is becoming more and more normal and therefore as people begin to, in a sense, realize that this normalcy is associated with the American presence, I don’t think it’s going to be that difficult for him to remove people like Mr. Zubaidi, who is the supposedly the new mayor of Baghdad.
RICHARD SKLAR: If I could comment on that. Although it may be the right thing to do, I think it will put a terrible onus on General Garner. He will then look like the autocratic dictator even when he’s doing right, and that’s the last thing we need. We will then look like the oppressors, the occupiers, the conquistadores. We have to move away from that. We have to find a way to diffuse the power of these folks. One of the ways is with money. Money will lead to power. We have the power to dispense the money. I don’t think autocratic removal, except in the case of Ba’athist thugs, is the way to deal with these rising centers of power.
MARGARET WARNER: Bob Perito…go ahead. Somebody else was trying to get in, yes.
ADEED DAWISHA: Can I say something?
MARGARET WARNER: Yes, Professor. By all means.
ADEED DAWISHA: I would say that the way to do that is through creating an interim government as soon as Garner can. Then he can work through the interim government. Once you have an interim government in place then in cooperation with the Americans and with Garner, they can do the kind of things that I talked about. I didn’t want to…I did not mean to imply that Garner will come in and autocratically put people in and take people out. That certainly, I agree with the speaker, that that is not going to leave a good impression, but if you have Iraqis working in place as an interim government, then you can do all kinds of things that I had said could be done before.
MARGARET WARNER: Very briefly before we go, from Bob Perito and Ray Kelly, how long do you think this will take? This was the question Donald Rumsfeld couldn’t answer today. How long do you think American forces will have to be in there in substantial numbers?
BOB PERITO: I think American forces will have to be there for quite a while, a matter of months if not more than a year. In Bosnia, six years, we’re still there.
MARGARET WARNER: And Ray Kelly.
COMMISSIONER RAYMOND KELLY: I would say for at least a year. We don’t have the structure in place to go in and replace our troops. So we’re going to be there and we’re going to be there in force for at least a year, probably significantly longer.
MARGARET WARNER: All right, gentlemen….
RICHARD SKLAR: Margaret, I would bet on five or ten years. As Tom Friedman said, this is going to be the mother of all long hauls.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. We’ll leave it there. We’re about to hear from Tom Friedman. Thank you all four very much.