The blueprint for winning the peace will revolve around bringing to life a federalist constitution that devolves power to Iraq's ethnically and religiously diverse people, insuring a system of justice that can equitably apply the rule of law to all its citizens, structuring a free-market economic system that encourages merit and uses Iraq's oil resources for the good of the people, and redefining the role of religion in society so it becomes a force for moral healing and unity rather than sowing the seeds of hatred, violence, and division.
American ideas for solving these problems will get the best reception from Iraq's people if there is a concurrent campaign waged to win over their hearts and minds. After being ruled by hardened Baathist heads for the past three decades, transforming Iraqi hearts into a democratic force for reform throughout the Arab world will require a combination of compassion, political skill, and a willingness to spend U.S. taxpayer money on things other than the latest cruise missiles, fighter jets, or armored tanks.
We need a common-sense approach that focuses on the needs of Iraq's people and empowers them to leave the era of Saddam's tyranny behind. Consider how the following illustrative, though by no means exhaustive, steps might transform U.S. efforts to develop post-Saddam Iraq in a manner that reflects the intentions and spirit of the American people.
PRESIDENT BUSH should call on the mayors of a representative list of major cities across the United States to each adopt one Iraqi city, town, or village in order to help restore the public school systems, hospitals, and pharmacies that provide critical services to ordinary Iraqi citizens.
In a country the size of California, it should not be difficult to gather and infuse enough private American money and brainpower to put books, pencils, paper, and maybe even a few willing and adventurous American school teachers into Iraqi classrooms in order to get the Iraqi children--who went back to school this weekend--back to the earnest business of learning.
Sister city mayors could commission fundraising drives to buy hospital supplies, or offer rotating missions of doctors and nurses to staff and retrain Iraqi doctors and health-care personnel so that ordinary Iraqis see and feel the benefits of the better way of life proposed by their liberators.
Pharmacies in American cities could restock Iraqi pharmacies and other medical supply outlets--and get a big tax break for doing so.
Gone would be accusations that Iraq's post-Saddam development is the stepchild of Pentagon war planners or that the American people are indifferent to the fate of ordinary Iraqis. Bechtel wouldn't be the only American enterprise called in to rebuild Iraq. The American people would add their considerable weight to the effort.
Even those who vehemently opposed the war in the U.S. would have a chance to help win the peace.
THE GREATEST SINGLE THREAT to peace in a post-Saddam Iraq is extremist Shiite Islam taking over streets full of unemployed people who have nothing better to do than scream virulent epithets at America while inciting violence in otherwise normal neighborhoods. So let's get the people of Iraq back to work now.
General Jay Garner (U.S. Army, Ret.), the interim Iraqi administrator, should ask all Iraqi citizens to return to work under a public works program designed to clean up the mess left by fleeing Baathists and U.S. smart bombs. The first objective should be the revival of all main government ministries within 30 days.
One of the strongest criticisms heard on the Arab street today is that only the Ministry of Petroleum was protected by U.S. troops in the days after Baghdad fell, furthering suspicions that the war was about oil all along. Coalition troops should be asked to stand guard at each ministry where ordinary Iraqis return to work to offer a secure workplace environment.
Salary payments, at least initially, could come from the nearly $800 million in looted cash recovered from Saddam's hideaways, and could be made on a weekly basis in U.S. dollars while Iraq's monetary system is revamped for startup in 2004.
Even at $50 per month, which is 150 percent more than the average Iraqi earned under Saddam, the U.S. could pay over 1.3 million Iraqis for a year from Saddam's ill-gotten gains to help revive and restore the fortunes of their own country.
Bonuses should be paid to every employee responsible for getting the job done on time, introducing the concepts of merit and capitalism at the roots of a new economic framework for Iraq.
MOSQUES should be places of worship, not depots for weapons or sanctuaries for fanatics. In order to keep Iran's mullahs out of Iraq's mosques, the United States should immediately instate a program designed to protect the operational framework of Iraq's religious institutions.
Imams should be paid from the national exchequer, thereby negating the influence of Iranian or other extremists in the region laden with petrodollars and radicalized ideas.
Iraqi religious leaders should form a self-regulatory body that compels each imam, both present and future, to pass minimum competency requirement exams which de-emphasize radicalized sermons and agitation as their tools for negatively controlling unwitting subjects.
Mosque operating budgets should be funded through centralized official sources vetted by the United States for the next several years to insure accountability and to give the United States a chance to better understand how the inner world of Islam works.
Other recently postulated ideas, like a national oil trust that gives each Iraqi citizen a non-transferable share in the state's oil and mineral resources--and therefore a stake in working to make its future a success--or transforming the way in which information is disseminated to the public through a free and open press, are equally important. And get Iraqi TV back on the air with a message of peace, prosperity, and hope.
Terrorism in the Arab and Muslim world was born of trampled egos which were bruised at a time when the United States did not fully fathom the depth and breadth of the anger against our citizenry. Taking some simple but important steps to demonstrate how American hearts and minds made this country mankind's greatest experiment in self-rule may set the stage for transforming the future of the Arab world from within the new Iraq, still considered by many to be the cradle of civilization.
Mansoor Ijaz, chairman of Crescent Investment Management in New York, co-authored the blueprint for the July 2000 ceasefire by Muslim militants in Indian-held Kashmir and negotiated Sudan's counterterrorism offer to the Clinton administration in April 1997.
Nabil Barakat, a Palestinian American who sits on the Board of Trustees at the University of Jordan in Amman, is a member of Crescent's Board of Governors.
Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson (USAF Ret), director of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative from 1984 to 1989, is chairman of Crescent's Board of Governors.