Post-War Iraq: Potential Issues Raised by Previous Occupation and Peacekeeping Experiences
CRS Report for Congress
Post-War Iraq: Potential Issues
Raised by Previous Occupation and
April 24, 2003
Nina M. Serafino
Specialist in International Security Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Post-War Iraq: Potential Issues Raised by Previous
Occupation and Peacekeeping Experiences
In the immediate aftermath of the coalition victory in Iraq, U.S. policymakers
face a number of decisions regarding security and government in post-war Iraq.
While there are significant differences between the Iraq situation and other post-war
experiences, observations and “lessons learned” from such experiences might be
relevant. This report will discuss six security and governance issues raised by
previous experiences, with particular reference to U.S. post-World War II occupation
experiences and also peacekeeping experiences in the Balkans and Afghanistan. It
may be updated as new issues arise for which assessments of previous experiences
might be useful.
Previous experience suggests three key decisions on security in post-war Iraq
which policymakers must take. These are: (1) what security tasks must be
performed, (2) who should perform them, and (3) how large should an occupation
military force be, and how long should it remain? Many tasks must be performed in
order to guarantee the security of citizens and property in the post-conflict
environment, several of which require “constabulary” forces, i.e., those possessing
both military and policing skills. In previous major U.S. occupations, U.S. soldiers
initially performed most policing tasks, turning them over to indigenous police as the
situation allowed. In the 1990s, peacekeepers increasingly assumed policing
functions as the need to guarantee security for property and citizens in the aftermath
of conflict became apparent. Many analysts have argued that policing functions are
not appropriate for U.S. forces, as they can erode warfighting and many also believe
that appropriately trained civilian police are often preferable. The lack of such
personnel, however, has been a problem in current peacekeeping operations. The
size of an occupation force, and the length of time that it should remain in place
during an occupation government depends on many factors, including in particular
the tasks it undertakes and the cooperation it receives from Iraqis.
Policymakers must also decide what type of assistance to provide Iraq in
creating a new government and supporting institutions to fill the power vacuum left
by the fall of the Hussein government. Three issues are: (1) who should form a post-
war government for Iraq, (2) what are the possibilities of and means to achieving
democracy in Iraq, and (3) how long is a peacebuilding presence necessary? While
the U.S. government has taken charge of the formation of a new Iraqi government,
with the intent of encouraging the creation of democratic institutions and practices,
some analysts believe that the possibilities for creating a viable and democratic Iraqi
government would be enhanced if the United Nations were to assume that role.
Some senior U.S. officials had contemplated an occupation of some two years, which
some experience suggests may be inadequate to create stable institutions. Studies of
past peacekeeping experiences point to the special need for considerable attention to
building capacities to assure the rule of law, conducting elections at an appropriate
time, and possibly providing for interim powersharing arrangements. Some have
also advocated creating or supporting channels for political participation by civic
society and local groups.
What Security Tasks Must Be Performed?..........................4
Who Should Perform Them?.....................................5
Military Occupation Forces: How Large? How Long?.................9
Who Should Form a Post War Government for Iraq?.................12
What are the Possibilities of and Means to Achieving Democracy? .....15
Guaranteeing the Rule of Law...............................18
Role of Civic Society and Local Participation...................20
Appropriate Conditions for and Timing of Elections.............21
Utility of Powersharing Arrangements........................23
Establishing International Norms.............................25
How Long Is a Peacebuilding Presence Necessary?..................25
Post-War Iraq: Potential Issues Raised by
Previous Occupation and Peacekeeping
In the immediate aftermath of a coalition victory against the government of
Saddam Hussein, U.S. policymakers are faced with decisions for which experiences
from past U.S. occupations and international peacekeeping — more specifically1
“peacebuilding” — may provide some guidance. The Iraq case, as all cases, is in
many ways unique, and the conditions that will prevail in a post-conflict Iraq are as
yet unclear. Still, there may be similarities in the requirements for and problems
inherent in (1) ensuring stability and (2) building a new government in post-war Iraq.2
For the transition to a new Iraqi government, analysts have looked at a variety
of experiences to inform policies and implementing organizations, and to anticipate
possible outcomes. Some analysts have examined United States occupation
experiences, in particular the successful democratization experiences after World
War II in Japan and Germany as examples of what the United States can accomplish
when a repressive government has been defeated and the United States has the power
to fill the political vacuum. Other analysts believe that comparisons to recent
1 “Peacekeeping” is often used as a broad, generic term to describe the many activities that
the United Nations and other international and national organizations or coalitions undertake
to promote, maintain, enforce, or enhance the possibilities for peace, and it is generally used
as such in CRS products. As defined in the 2000 U.N. “Brahimi Report,” the term
“peacekeeping” refers to one subset of peace operations, i.e, “a complex model of many
elements, military and civilian, working together to build peace in the dangerous aftermath
of civil wars.” Another subset, “peacebuilding,” is defined in the same report as “activities
undertaken on the far side of conflict to reassemble the foundations of peace and provide
the tools for building on those foundations something that is more than just the absence of
war.” These activities include but are not limited to “reintegrating former combatants into
civilian society, strengthening the rule of law (for example through training and
restructuring of local police, and judicial and penal reform); improving respect for human
rights through the monitoring, education and investigation of past and existing abuses;
providing technical assistance for democratic development (including electoral assistance
and support for the free media); and promoting conflict resolution and reconciliation
techniques.” United Nations. Secretary General. Report of the Panel on United Nations
Peace Operations. Identical letters [transmitting the report] dated 21 August 2000 from the
Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly and the President of the
Security Council. (United Nations document A/55/305-S/2000/809). pp 2-3.
2 Two other immediate tasks are the delivery of massive humanitarian aid to Iraqis, and the
development of plans and funding sources for economic reconstruction. For information on
these subjects, see CRS Report RL31814, Humanitarian Issues in Post-War Iraq: An
Overview for Congress, by Rhoda Margesson, and CRS Report RS21454, Iraq: Potential
Post-War Foreign Aid Issues, by Curt Tarnoff.
international peacekeeping operations, from the 1990s to the present are more
relevant. Most peacekeeping operations have been conducted as part of the
settlement of a civil war, unlike in Iraq, but many of them have grappled with the
problems of resolving deep rooted sectarian differences. The existence of such
ethnic, tribal, and religious differences in Iraq, among Arabs of the Sunni and Shiite
Muslim sects, Muslims of Kurdish ethnic origin, and Christians, lead some analysts
to believe that policymakers will have much to learn in formulating security and
governance policies for post-Hussein Iraq from experiences in Bosnia and Kosovo,
where ethnic tensions triggered a civil war after the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Many also look to Afghanistan, where longstanding ethnic tensions have continued
to produce armed conflict, even after U.S. military action in 2001 installed a new
multi-ethnic interim government. Some analysts also believe that lessons from
efforts to promote democracy — often undertaken as a peacebuilding component of
a peacekeeping operation — may help planners enhance the possibilities for a stable
and representative, if not democratic Iraqi government.
This paper will discuss six salient issues raised by past occupation and
peacekeeping operations for current decisionmaking in Iraq, with particular reference
to the post World War II U.S. occupation experiences and to peacekeeping operations
in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Three security issues that need to be addressed are:
(1) what security tasks must be performed, (2) who should perform them, and (3)
how large should an occupation military force be, and how long should it remain?
Three governance issues that also must be decided are: (1) who should form a post-
war government for Iraq, (2) how long is a peacekeeping presence necessary, and (3)
what are the possibilities of and means to achieving democracy in Iraq?
Experience from previous peacekeeping operations suggests that policymakers
may wish to address these issues quickly. A 2002 top level United Nations review
of its peacekeeping operations concluded that the first six to 12 weeks after a
ceasefire or peace accord took effect were “often the most critical ones for
establishing both a stable peace and the credibility of a new operation. Opportunities
lost during that period are hard to regain.”3
One of the most important and contentious issues of any post-conflict operation
is who will undertake what security tasks. The importance of immediately ensuring
adequate security is a constant theme of post-conflict literature. There is
considerable acknowledgment that a failure to provide enough properly equipped
troops and police, with an appropriate use of force mandate, can complicate post-
conflict operations enormously and usually prolong them. Most importantly, a failure
to guarantee stability is often viewed as a serious impediment the establishment of4
a legitimate and effective government. According to one analyst, “the security
3 The Brahimi Report. op.cit., p xi.
4 A recent report cites security as the “sine qua non” of a successful post-conflict operation.
dilemma remains a major problem, both in the short term during the transition from
war to building shared political institutions, and later, as the new government tries
to cope with its very substantial problems.”5
In Iraq, some citizens have already expressed disillusionment with the United
States, faulting the U.S. military for failing to assign personnel immediately to
prevent the looting and killings of Iraqis by Iraqis that accompanied the coalition
takeovers of Baghdad and some other major cities.6 In the weeks before the coalition
action in Iraq, many analysts pointed to a need to place a high priority on providing
security in a post-conflict Iraq. One “think tank” report on Iraq stated that security
needs in the post-war period “cannot be underestimated.”7 Another stated that U.S.
and coalition forces would need “to pivot quickly from combat to peacekeeping
operations in order to prevent post-conflict Iraq from descending into anarchy.”8
Lack of adequate security has been cited as a key problem in many peacekeeping
operations. Most recently, many analysts have faulted the ad hoc coalition
peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, where a vice president was assassinated in July
2002. There, many analysts argue, the legitimacy of the interim government of
Hamid Karzai has been substantially eroded as the relatively small peacekeeping
force of 7,000 troops (from a fluctuating group of about 20 nations) deployed only
in and around Kabul, has been unable to protect the Afghani population against
bandits and warlords. Earlier, the lack of adequate military force, complicated by the
lack of a mandate to use force except in self-defense, also has been cited as an
important factor in the failure of the 1992-1995 U.N. peacekeeping operation in
Bosnia,9 where Serbian forces slaughtered Muslims who had sought refuge in UN-
established “safe havens.” The lack of security, in particular a lack of constabulary
Bi-Partisan Commission on Post-Conflict Reconstruction. Final Report. Play to Win. Center
for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Association of the U.S. Army
(AUSA), January 2003. Available through the CSIS website.
5 Roy Licklider. Obstacles to Peace Settlements, in Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler
Hampson, and Pamela Aall, eds., Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing
International Conflict. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2001. p 705.
6 Many analysts, and human rights groups, state that the United States, as an occupying
power, is bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention to provide security in Iraq.
7 Frederick D. Barton and Bathsheba N. Crocker. A Wiser Peace: An Action Strategy for a
Post-Conflict Iraq. Center for Strategic and International Studies. January 2003. Available
through the CSIS website.
8 Edward P. Djerejian and Frank G. Wisner, co-chairs, Independent Working Group.
Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq. Cosponsored by the Council on
Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University.
January 2003. p 5. Available through the Council on Foreign Relations website.
9 Dennis C. Jett. Why Peacekeeping Fails. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. p 40;
Michael W. Doyle, War Making, Peace Making, and the United Nations, in Turbulent
Peace, op.cit., pp 535-536.
forces (i.e., military police or policemen with military training) is also cited as a
problem with the current NATO peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo.10
What Security Tasks Must Be Performed?
In post-conflict situations, military forces — including U.S. forces — have
performed many different kinds of security tasks,11 most of which would apply to
Iraq. At least 12 broad tasks (each of which has many different components) have
been cited as necessary to ensure security in post conflict settings. About five of
these are considered largely military tasks, including to 1) protect humanitarian relief
workers; (2) disarm and demobilize unwanted or unneeded military personnel; (3) de-
mine national territory; (4) protect borders against intruders; and (5) contain the
ambitions for power of armed local, regional, religious, or ethnic leaders (known in
some cases as “warlords”) who would seek to disrupt the establishment of the new
The remaining seven tasks are viewed as mainly requiring police skills, although
military might, influence, organizational structure, materiél, and skills are often
required to carry them out in the immediate aftermath of conflict, when violence is
still high.12 Of these, the three that most often require a combination of military and
police attributes are to: (1) block reprisal killings and recrimination actions, the latter
10 For instance, according to one analyst: “In some cases, notably Bosnia, East Timor,
Kosovo, and Sierra Leone, maintaining a proactive and flexible military and police presence
is critical to the creation of a durable peace. Bosnia has shown, for example, that sustaining
the peace process can require peacekeeping troops to engage in what might be termed non-
military activities, for example, arresting indicted war criminals and combating organized
crime syndicates that had their roots in the war economy. Similarly, in countries where
‘negotiated’ settlements have essentially been imposed on warring parties — Angola,
Bosnia, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone — events have demonstrated that peacekeepers must be
prepared to actively keep the peace in order to promote the rule of law in post-conflict
societies.” Nicolle Ball, The Challenge of Rebuilding War-Torn Societies, in Turbulent
Peace, op. cit., pp 727-728.
11 There are also tasks that may be related to security, such as rebuilding vital infrastructure,
which the U.S. military may be called upon to perform, especially in the early post-conflict
period. The U.S. Army War College has compiled a matrix of 135 individual “essential
tasks” for an occupation, about 100 of which would be carried out at least initially by the
coalition military forces. See Conrad C. Crane and W. Andrew Terrill. Reconstructing
Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario.
Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. February 2003.
Available through the U.S. Army War College website.
12 The military’s organizational and materiél advantages were detailed by one analyst:
“Soldiers....arrive in organized groups with vehicles, communications and their own
security. They can cover an area like a blanket with a systematic command, control and
intelligence network. And they have the capacity to stifle violence, permitting cooperation
to take root. However they are not effective at cultivating cooperation, because they lack
the core therapeutic peacebuilding skills that will help relationships grow again between
hostile communities.” David Last. Organizing for Effective Peacebuilding, in Tom
Woodhouse and Oliver Ramsbotham. Peacekeeping and Conflict Resolution. London:
Frank Cass, 2000. p 90.
of which may require crowd control; (2) control arms and confiscate illegal weapons;
and (3) arrest and try war criminals. Four other tasks which usually fall to the police,
although military intelligence and trainers may assist in their performance, are: (1)
dismantle criminal networks (sometimes involving local police and government
officials); (2) undertake police and security force reform; (3) promote concepts of
human rights, and (4) protect civilians and property from common crime.13
Especially in early post-conflict situations, protecting civilians and property from
common crime may require a mix of military and policing skills.
Analysts cite most of these tasks as necessary for maintaining security in post-
conflict Iraq. The exception, thus far, is that no one has reported the existence within
the Iraq security forces and in Hussein’s Baath political party of the type of organized
criminal network that exists in Bosnia. There, some political leaders and alleged war
criminals are believed to belong to the network, which engages in counterband
smuggling. Also, at times, local police have refused requests to act against criminals
because, some analysts believe, the police are accomplices. This linkage between
political and criminal groups did not develop, or at least surface, however, until after
Bosnia’s nationalist leaders had attained power. Only now, over seven years after
NATO forces initiated peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, are the intelligence and
legal systems in place to begin to crack this network.14
Who Should Perform Them?
One crucial issue for U.S. policymakers will be who is to perform these tasks,
particularly if U.S. armed forces do not? The Bush Administration’s repeated
assertions that the U.S. military will remain only as long as necessary, preferably for
a limited period, and the possibility that U.S. forces might be needed in other
theaters, raises the question of whether the United States military might leave while
a military force is still required. Related questions are when and to what degree Iraqi
military and police, and possibly U.S. contracted or international police, partner with
U.S. forces or take over the various security tasks. (Within days after the fall of
Baghdad, the United States called for Iraqi police to register themselves for a possible
return to duty after vetting.)
Military Forces.In past occupations and peace operations, these security
tasks have been handled in different ways. In Germany and Japan, for instance U.S.
and allied military forces provided total security at the outset, gradually handing
policing tasks over to vetted indigenous police forces, who took over both normal
policing and constabulary roles. Over the past decade, however, there has been some
controversy over the use of U.S. forces in peacekeeping operations for any tasks
13 One analyst noted that the short-run social and economic dislocations resulting from
economic liberalization and structural adjustment programs introduced by international
organizations in post-conflict societies led to sharp increases in criminal violence. In El
Salvador, he stated, society experienced greater violence during post-war years than war
years, due to the high levels of criminal activity. Roland Paris. Wilson’s Ghost: The Faulty
Assumptions of Postconflict Peacebuilding, in Turbulent Peace. op.cit., pp 770-771.
14 Michael Dziedzic, in remarks before the United Nations Association of the National
Capital Area, April 8, 2003.
except the protection of humanitarian relief workers and the containment of
In the early 1990s, the United Nations organized peacekeeping forces with troop
(and later police) contributions from member states to undertake several of these
tasks. The UN’s inability to establish a stable environment in several operations,
most particularly in the Balkans in the early 1990s, led most analysts to conclude that
the United Nations, as currently structured, lacks the capacity to carry out the type of
military activities that are necessary to keep the peace in hostile and potentially
Since 1995, operations in such environments have been carried out by the
military forces of NATO, as in Bosnia and Kosovo, or “coalitions of the willing,”
i.e., U.N. sanctioned multilateral forces, as in Afghanistan. Some analysts have
suggested that NATO might take on a security role in Iraq. Given international
tensions surrounding U.S. military action in Iraq, particularly disagreements with
NATO members France and Germany, however, other nations may prove unwilling,
even in the long-term, to provide troops to supplement or replace U.S. forces in the
Police Forces. The potential disadvantages of a continuing use of military
forces have led military planners to give special consideration to determining the
point when conditions existed for constabulary and police forces to begin to assume
security tasks. While military forces are viewed as necessary in the early post-
conflict periods, they can sometimes prove counterproductive. “If a single soldier
errs by using excessive force, the entire mission can be placed in jeopardy because16
local consent may be squandered,” wrote one military officer. According to another
analyst, an “excessive security presence or the wrong type of presence can be
provocative and dangerous. After violence has been contained the visibility of armed
security forces indicates problems and dysfunction.”17
Over the past decade, experiences in peacekeeping operations have been
combed for lessons that might be learned regarding the appropriate timing and mix
of forces to use to perform security tasks. Increasingly, those analyzing and planning
peacekeeping operations have argued for a range of different kinds of forces carrying
out different roles. In the words of one analyst: “Military forces are effective at
guaranteeing security against military opposition. They are much less effective
against riots and civilian disturbances like the ones experienced in Bosnia as the
refugees tried to go home....They are impotent in the face of bricks through windows
15 Since the early 1990s, the performance of many of these tasks by U.S. troops has been
highly controversial. Some military analysts argue that they are inappropriate for U.S.
soldiers because such tasks dull their warfighting edge. See CRS Issue Brief IB94040
(Peacekeeping: Issues of U.S. Military Involvement) for more information on this debate.
16 Michael Dziedzic. Introduction in Robert B. Oakley, Michael J. Dziedzic, and Eliot M.
Goldberg. Policing the New World Disorder: Peace Operations and Public Security.
Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1998. p 9.
17 Last, op.cit., p 83.
or threatening calls in the night. So we need a spectrum of forces to bring violence
In addition to the military forces and military police contributed by many
countries to peacekeeping operations, several other types of forces have been used
to provide security. Two types of international forces have been important: (1) the
constabulary forces of other countries, in particular the carabineri of Italy and the
gendarmes of France, and (2) the U.N. CIVPOLs, i.e., police contributed through the
U.N. civilian police mechanism that recruits active duty or retired policemen from
member states to serve in an international police force. (International CIVPOLs
monitor, assist, mentor and train local police. On occasion, they may mediate local
disputes, and ensure public order. They may call on military forces when necessary.)
Often, vetted local police forces have also been used to provide security under
international oversight, 19 and sometimes reconstructed military forces have also been
Studies and experiences suggest the importance of a coordinated, overlapping
sharing of powers among military, paramilitary, and international and domestic
police forces, with the first three phasing out as levels of violence diminish.20 In
particular, the need to provide constabulary forces to handle crowds of civilians
became more and more recognized in peacekeeping operations. “Organized in
platoons and companies along military lines, [such] paramilitary forces deal with
large-scale civil disturbances and with armed and organized criminal elements. To
avoid embroiling heavily armed troops in crowd control, the U.N. Transitional
Authority in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) included a Polish riot-control company
[i.e., military unit]. In Bosnia, the NATO peacekeeping Stabilization Force (SFOR)
developed the Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) [a paramilitary unit] including
police and paramilitary Italian Carabinieri.”21 Subsequently, in Kosovo, a similar
18 Last, op.cit., p 84.
19 In many operations, the U.N. or other international civilian police missions were not
granted authority to arrest or detain suspects. This created problems, especially where local
police forces would not take action. For instance: “When the local police obstruct the
process or violate agreements, as the Serb Republic police did in Banja Luka in 1998 [and
subsequently in other places in Bosnia], the international police monitors may call upon the
military force to shut down a police station, seize illegal weapons, or take action to ensure
public safety. The international military force is the backup that helps to force violence
down to levels where effective civilian police can handle it.” Last, op. cit., p 84. The
problems created by U.N. CIVPOLs lack of power to detain and arrest crime suspects was
addressed in Kosovo, where U.N. CIVPOL forces were mandated such powers.
20 Last, op cit., designed a chart (Figure 3, p 94, based on the concepts of Dziedzic, op.cit.,)
illustrating a sequencing of security force presences. According to Last: “This sequence
implies a deliberate but gradual reduction in the international presence. Violence is brought
under control early on by a concerted effort from police, paramilitary and military forces.
As local institutions develop, local civilian police can take over the control of violence
through community policing. Locals gradually take over the process of building
relationships between formerly hostile communities.”
21 Last. op.cit., p 84.
unit was incorporated into NATO’s Kosovo peacekeeping force (KFOR), and the
United Nations deployed civilian constabulary Special Police Units (SPU).22
These experiences also have led many analysts to argue for the strengthening of
the UNCIVPOL, or CIVPOL-like units to carry out tasks that are widely viewed as
difficult or even inappropriate for military forces, and which local police forces may
not be able to carry out. The National Defense University’s Institute for International
and Strategic Studies (IISS) in 1998 identified a security “deployment gap” resulting
from an inadequate law enforcement presence on the ground in several peacekeeping
operations. This gap left military forces as the only source of enforcing order early
in an intervention, and made CIVPOL dependent for credibility as a capable force on
a military backup. The IISS report attributed this gap to the lack of “significant surge
capability, international mobility, or experience in operating beyond national
borders.” It suggested remedies to “narrow” the gap. These included (1)
strengthening the capacity of the international community to mobilize CIVPOL
personnel, either by creating a standby force of trained CIVPOL personnel and
making adjustments in training and organization to make them more effective, and
(2) preparing the military to discharge police functions during a transition period
“until the security environment has been sufficiently stabilized and the CIVPOL
contingent has become operational.”23 Recent recommendations for post-conflict
policy in Iraq include military constabulary forces, special police constabulary units,
and U.N. CIVPOLS as components of security forces.24
Recent publications note continuing problems with CIVPOL deployments,
including “a shortage of properly trained and experienced police officers and the lack
of adequate logistical support.”25 Presidential Decision Directive 71, issued by the
22 Robert Perito. Establishing the Rule of Law in Iraq. Washington, D.C. United States
Institute of Peace, April 2003. p 13. This report is accessible through the USIP website.
23 Oakley, et al., op.cit., pp 513-524.
24 Two think tank reports, A Wiser Peace, op.cit. (pp 14-15, 22) and Iraq: The Day After
recommend the deployment of U.N. CIVPOLS. (Eric P. Schwartz, project director. Iraq:
The Day After. Report of an Independent Task Force on Post-Conflict Iraq sponsored by the
Council on Foreign Relations. Thomas R. Pickering and James R. Schlesinger, co-chairs.
March 12, 2003. pp 30-31. Accessible through the Council on Foreign Relations website.)
A Wiser Peace recommends that a vetted Iraqi police force be overseen by a U.N. CIVPOL,
which would “supplement” rather than replace the Iraqi police. It also recommends a
combination of a special policing force and a transitional security force (TSP), i.e., a core
force of U.S. military troops that “is effectively prepared, mandated, and staffed to handle
post-conflict civil service security needs, including the need for constabulary forces” and
would augment and oversee civil policing efforts at the provincial and local levels, and
would assist with security for humanitarian and emergency relief efforts. A third think tank
report, Perito, op.cit., recommends the establishment of special civilian police constabulary
units such as the United Nations has deployed in Kosovo. “to respond rapidly to major
challenges to public order.” p 13.
25 William Lewis, Edward Marks, and Robert Perito. Enhancing International Civilian
Police in Peace Operations. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, April 22,
2002, p 1. This USIP special report also discusses PDD-71. It is accessible through the
USIP website. Also see The Clinton Administration White Paper on Peace Operations at
Clinton Administration in February 2000 but never put into effect, attempted to
provide a framework for strengthening U.S. and international CIVPOL capabilities
and related police and justice institutions. H.R. 1414, introduced by Representatives
McGovern and Houghton on March 25, 2003, proposes that the United States
encourage negotiations with the United Nations and U.N. member states to establish
a U.N. civilian police corps.
Military Occupation Forces: How Large? How Long?
The size of a military occupation force, and the length of time that it should
remain in place in support of an occupation government depends on many factors.
The situation in Iraq is not yet clear, but two decisive factors may be the range and
scope of tasks that military forces will be assigned, and the degree to which the Iraqi
citizenry, police forces, and remaining military forces are willing to cooperate with
Numerous estimates of the size of the necessary occupation force have been put
forward over the last several months. A February 2003 U.S. Army War College
publication cites an initial projection of 100,000 troops, although it cautions that
projections “of actual troop numbers remain highly speculative until the actual
postwar situation becomes clear.”26 This figure conforms to a mid-2002 estimate of
the U.S. Army Center of Military History that100,000 troops would be needed for a
peacekeeping force in Iraq if the peacekeepers were to carry out the full range of
tasks of an occupation force such as was provided in Germany and Japan after World
War II, throughout the country.27 These tasks would include providing emergency
humanitarian relief, assisting with reconstruction, and administering Iraq on an
interim basis. Conditions were somewhat different in Germany and Japan than they
[http://wwww.fas.org/irp/offdocs/pdd/pdd-71-4.htm]. A Wiser Peace, op.cit. (p 22) also
notes the difficulties of past U.N. CIVPOLS, assessing the record of “recent, large-scale
CIVPOL deployments in Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor” as “mixed at best. Bringing in
substantial numbers of CIVPOL to bolster local law enforcement capacity has been
resource-intensive and extremely slow going. International CIVPOL have generally tended
to be poorly trained, poorly equipped, undermanned, and under-resourced.” To address this
issue, Play to Win, op.cit., recommends that Congress expand U.S. authority and capacity
to train indigenous police forces by replacing Section 660 of the Foreign Assistance Act of
1961, which restricts foreign police training, and that the Administration “should better
utilize the often ignored 1996 ‘post-conflict waiver’...” (p 12 of the web version of the
26 Crane and Terrill, op.cit., p 33.
27 The survey was presented in a July 2002 briefing to the Army’s director of transformation.
Study: New Demands Could Tax Military. The Washington Post, September 23, 2002. Theth
Center based its preliminary estimate on the size and tasks of 16 20 century U.S. military
operations, including Japan and Germany. According to the Center’s figures, in Japan,
where the United States remained for six years and eight months, the size of the occupation
force had a peak level of 386,000 in November 1945, but dropped to 160,000 by May 1946;
in Germany, where the United States remained about four years to administer its sector of
occupied Germany, the size of the force dropped from 1.6 million in May 1945 to 278,000
in 1946, 119,000 in 1947, and 79,000 by 1950.
may be in Iraq, however, as there was virtually no resistance to the U.S. occupation,
and cooperation from local police forces was high.
Other estimates span a wide range above and below that figure. In testimony
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (August 1, 2002), retired U.S. Army
Colonel Scott Feil suggested 75,000 as the number of forces that should remain. The
Heritage Foundation, which argues that U.S. troops should be deployed only to
secure three circumscribed war aims, estimates that the United States should
contribute 40,000 troops to a 60,000-member coalition occupation force.28 In
testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (February 25, 2003),
General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, estimated that “something
on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for
an occupation force to control Iraq. Department of Defense civilian officials rebutted
that estimate, some citing 100,000 as the appropriate number.29 The Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the annual cost of maintaining a military
occupation force of 75,000-200,000 at $17 billion to $46 billion per year, based on
the average cost of maintaining a U.S. Army peacekeeper.30
Several factors will be important in determining the size of the U.S. and
coalition occupation forces in Iraq and the amount of time the forces will remain.
With regard to internal security, important factors will be the degree to which the
Iraqi population accepts them, whether and how many troops from other nations and
U.S. or international civilian policemen are deployed, and the extent to which the
United States has confidence in Iraqi police to handle the task.
(As of late April, the State Department was reportedly seeking bids for a
contract to send 1,000 former police officers and lawyers to work with the Iraqi
police, as well as the justice and prison systems.31 Several other countries, mostly
28 Baker Spring and Jack Spencer. In Post War Iraq, Use Military Forces to Secure Vital
U.S. Interests, Not for Nation-Building. The Heritage Foundation. September 18, 2002.
(This is accessible through the Heritage Foundation website.) The three war aims cited
were: to find and destroy the Hussein “regime’s WMD arsenal and its infrastructure of
support for terrorism;” “to secure Iraq and the region against Iranian ambitions;” and “to
provide physical protection to Iraq’s energy infrastructure.”
29 Eric Schmitt. Pentagon Contradicts General on Iraq Occupation Force’s Size. The New
York Times. February 28, 2003. p A1.
30 United States. Congressional Budget Office. Estimated Costs of a Potential Conflict with
Iraq. September 2002. Table 4. Attached to a letter addressed to the Honorable Kent
Conrad and the Honorable John M. Spratt, Jr. September 30, 2002. According to the CBO,
“This estimate could be significantly larger if the occupation included heavy construction,
such as building bases, bridges, and roads. If the United States limited its role to providing
logistical support to other nations’ occupying forces, costs could be significantly lower.”
Table 4, footnote f. [http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index+3822&sequence=0].
31 Colum Lynch and Vernon Loeb. U.S. Seeks Bids for Iraq Peacekeeping. The Washington
Post. April 17, 2003. p A31. According to this report, DynCorp, which has organized
police missions to other peacekeeping operations, has already sent a team of 150 former
police officers to work with the Iraq police.
European, have pledged to send small numbers of troops to perform security,
patrolling, and humanitarian tasks.32)
Among other factors are the perceived threat from one or more of Iraq’s
neighbors, which may be manifested as threats to territorial integrity through
incursions across Iraq’s borders, requiring considerable forces patrolling those
borders, or more likely, as attempts to influence political events in Iraq by funding
armed Iraqi groups. Such external “spoilers” have been identified as at least partially
responsible for the breakdown of the U.N. peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and of
several operations in Africa.
The difficulty of disarming and demobilizing Iraqi military, paramilitary, and
Baath party forces may be another significant determinant of the size of the
occupying force and the length of time it remains. Demobilization, disarmament, and
reintegration (often referred to as DDR) processes in peacekeeping operations have
been cited as complex and costly, but essential to the success of any peace mission.33
According to one analyst, large numbers of forces can be required to accomplish the
task, but still may not be sufficient to guarantee a successful operation.34 Some
believe that the DDR problems presented in Iraq will surpass the problems
elsewhere. For example, in his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, Col.
Feil testified that DDR “requirements will dwarf previous efforts” because of the
huge size of Iraqi security forces.35 One recent report estimated, “based on historical
precedents,” that U.S. military planners should allow at least four months for a
“demilitarization” phase (apparently corresponding to demobilization and
disarmament), during which “aggressive re-training” and reintegration would begin.36
The size of a coalition force and length of time it must remain will also depend
on the degree to which the United States believes local security forces can be used.
(Two recent reports recommended retaining Iraqi security forces in some form and
32 Reuters News. Contributions to Peacekeeping and Rebuilding Iraq. April 20, 2003. The
countries cited were Albania, Italy, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland,
Romania, and Turkey.
33 From a study of 16 civil wars between 1980 and 1997, one analyst concludes that the first
of six priorities for successful implementation of a peace agreement is the demobilization
of combatants (i.e., “taking those people who have weapons, who were soldiers that carried
out the violence, and convincing them that they have a future without violence and that they
will be reintegrated into society”). Stephen John Stedman. Reflections on Implementing
Peace Agreements in Civil Wars. Paper presented in August 2001.
[ h t t p : / / www.gl e n c r e e c f r . i e .St e dma n Pa pe r .ht m] .
34 Licklider, op.cit. p 705. Licklider points to an alternative that may be considered for
those parts of Iraq where local authorities are friendly and cooperative: “an interesting
alternative is community-based security, in which arms are retained under the authority of
local councils. This approach seems to have worked in Somaliland produced significant
disarmament without foreign assistance.” p 706.
35 Scott Feil. Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. February 11,
and another 60,000 in various security forces.
36 A Wiser Peace, op.cit, p 17.
using them, after retraining, in conjunction with U.S. and international forces in the
post-war period.37) The use of such forces has varied in previous peacekeeping
As the United States proceeds to establish an interim Iraqi regime, three issues
have emerged regarding the transition to a permanent Iraqi government.38 These are:
(1) the appropriate role for the United Nations in the transition; (2) the feasibility of
establishing democracy in Iraq; and (3) the appropriate time frame and stages in
which a transition to full Iraqi rule would occur, particularly the length of time in
which the U.S. military would head an occupation government.
Who Should Form a Post War Government for Iraq?
Even as the United States begins to organize the new structures that will govern
Iraq, policymakers are debating the appropriate caretakers for an interim period, and
the appropriate means to create Iraq’s permanent governing structures. For now,
governmental authority in Iraq is exercised by U.S. Army General Tommy Franks,
the commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command which directed the war.
Retired U.S. Army general, Jay Garner, who heads the Department of Defense’s
national reconstruction office for Iraq, has assumed the position of civilian
administrator, responsible for civilian government functions. The Bush
Administration’s early plans, as of February 2003, called for a transition phase,
during which control of Iraqi government ministries would be gradually transferred
from occupation military and civilian administrators to Iraqis. In a final phase Iraqis
would draft and ratify a new constitution, which would provide the basis for free
elections. In February, Bush Administration officials stated that, under propitious
circumstances, the occupation government would last two years.39 Currently,
however, the Bush Administration is promoting the organization of an interim Iraqi
37 Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq, op.cit. (p 6) argued that once
purged of its top leadership and others guilty of serious crimes, the Iraqi Army could “serve
as a guarantor of peace and stability if it is retrained in part for constabulary duty and
internal security missions.” Citing the need to defend Iraq’s borders, A Wiser Peace, op.cit.,
(p 17) argued against disbanding the military but recommended cutting it from 350,000 to
150,000 regular troops for the Army plus reserves, restructuring it, and instilling in it a
“new, apolitical culture.” This report also envisioned Iraqi police assisting the paramilitary
Transitional Security Force (TSP) with “law-and-order” functions even in the immediate
post-conflict period. It argued that the 35,000-58,000 civilian police force, once vetted of
Saddam supporters by the removal of the top tier of officials, could be reconstituted under
the leadership of current less senior Iraqi police officers.
38 The CRS tracking vehicle for developments in the planning and institution of a post-war
government in Iraq is CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and Post-
War Iraq, by Kenneth Katzman.
39 Testimony of Marc Grossman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and of
Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, February 11, 2003.
“authority,” to be put in place within a short period of time. Its powers and status
vis-a-vis the occupation authorities are unclear.
Some policymakers have argued that the United Nations should play a central
if not the lead role in designing Iraq’s future government. The process of
peacebuilding that the United States envisions for Iraq, with the goal of forming a
democratic government, is arguably similar, in a broad brush way, to the
democratization processes of the U.S. military occupations of Japan and Germany.
Some argue, however, that in key ways it may more closely resemble the
multidimensional peacebuilding operations that the United Nations has conducted in
several countries since the early 1990s — among them, most recently, Kosovo,
Afghanistan, and East Timor, as well as the earlier cases of Namibia, Cambodia,
Mozambique, and El Salvador. Unlike the current situation in Iraq, U.N.
peacebuilding missions have involved guiding countries from civil war towards a
stable peace. Iraq does, however, share some characteristics of the nations involved
in many of the peacebuilding missions, i.e., sectarian divisions, which some analysts
fear may give way to violence in the absence of a strong, central, Iraqi authority, and
a lack of experience with democracy.
The Bush Administration envisions a role for the United Nations in post-war
Iraq, but argues that the United States should continue to play a lead role, if not the
lead role, in shaping Iraq’s future government. As of April 2003, the only role that
President Bush had identified for the U.N. regarding a future Iraqi government was
a “participation” in the selection — which some analysts interpreted as meaning
endorsement — of members of an interim Iraqi government.
The debate on the appropriate role for the United Nations is influenced by (1)
considerations as to whether the United Nations Security Council’s resistance to
endorsing coalition military action against Iraq is a significant indicator of its
behavior in post-Hussein Iraq, (2) the comparative advantages of the United Nations
and of the United States in harnessing international support for a future government,
and (3) the United Nations’ performance in past and current peacebuilding
Proponents of a continuing U.S. lead in Iraq’s political development believe that
the United Nations has previously demonstrated a lack of the political will necessary
to deal with security threats posed by the Hussein regime, and would prove an
obstacle to securing U.S. security goals if it were to play a deciding role in Iraq’s
political future.40 Some also voice doubts about the United Nations’ institutional
ability to handle a complex transitional administration for a population of 24 million,
many times larger than the other two areas in which it currently runs transitional
administrations, i.e., Kosovo (five million) and East Timor (approx. 950,000). They
would also discount this option based on the United Nations’ reputation, especially
throughout the 1990s, as having at best mixed results in its various peacekeeping and
peacebuilding enterprises, and argue that the U.N. lacks the capacity to coordinate
its operations effectively.
40 Nile Gardiner. The Role of the United Nations in Post-War Iraq. Heritage Foundation.
Web Memo #246. April 1, 2003.
Proponents of a lead U.N. role argue that U.S. interests in creating a stable and
democratic Iraq would be better served if the United Nations were to assume control
of the governmental aspects of a peace operation through a transitional authority.41
For one, they argue that only the United Nations now possess the high degree of
international legitimacy that the United States enjoyed when occupying Japan and a
sector of Germany in 1945.42 Such legitimacy is necessary, they argue, to reap the
high levels of international support, including financial assistance for reconstruction
that Iraq will need for many years to come.43 (In addition, some doubt that US
policymakers would be able to muster enough political support domestically to
provide the large amounts of assistance they believe will be needed for a lengthy
reconstruction process.) A U.N. authority also would provide, proponents argue,
assurances to both Iraqis and the international community of greater impartiality in
such intrusive enterprises as purging and reshaping government institutions than
would a U.S. occupational authority.44 The perception of impartiality might affect
the degree to which a broad majority of Iraqis might be willing to support new
governmental institutions, and a democratic ethos, proponents believe.
41 See, for example, International Crisis Group. War in Iraq: Political Challenges After the
Conflict. March 25, 2003. The International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based think
tank, rejected both the concept of U.S./coalition control, and that of an interim Iraqi
authority, the latter on the grounds that “no pre-identifiable, optimal Iraqi candidates exist
whom either the United States or the international community can handpick to run an
interim authority”and recommended that a United Nations transitional authority be
established to run the country until Iraqis could select their own legitimate leaders. p i.
42 See CRS Report RS21404, U.S. Occupation of Iraq? Issues Raised by Experiences in
Japan and Germany, by Nina M. Serafino.
43 One analyst, in looking at five cases [studied - Namibia, Cambodia, Angola, El Salvador,
Cyprus] concluded that “third parties need other third parties if they are to work efficiently
and effectively in nurturing the conditions for peace. No single third party alone had the
resources or leverage to make the peace process work.....The United Nations required the
backing of great powers. Great powers needed the local support of a country’s neighbors.
Regional actors and groups needed the assistance of subregional groups. Governments and
international organizations also required the active assistance and involvement of
nongovernmental organizations and agencies, particularly during implementation of the
agreement Fen Osler Hampson. Nurturing Peace: Why Peace Settlements Succeed or Fail.
Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996. p 233.
44 One analyst, in summing up the U.N. participation in peacekeeping, noted: “None of these
intrusions into domestic sovereignty would work were it not for the genuinely multilateral
character of the United Nations, which in itself serves as guarantee of nonimperial
motivation-and nonimperial capacity. The very multilateralism that makes the United
Nations such an effective war maker is what makes it such an acceptable and reliable peace
maker.” (Michael W. Doyle. War Making and Peace Making: The United Nations’ Post-
Cold War Record, in Turbulent Peace, op.cit., p 543.)
Proponents also argue that while problems remain and reforms must be made,45
the United Nations’ has learned from past experiences in running complex
peacebuilding operations, and that several operations that seemed highly problematic
several years ago have, with time, begun to seem markedly positive.46 Some analysts
also argue that while some problems of U.N. peacebuilding operations have been due
to actions, or lack thereof, of U.N. personnel, the greatest problems have been the
result of an insufficient mandate and a lack of resources, which can be attributed to
a lack of political will on the part of member countries.47
What are the Possibilities of and Means to Achieving
Strong differences exist over whether a Western-style democracy in Iraq is48
feasible. The establishment of a democratic government in Iraq, which could
45 The Brahimi report, op.cit. Some progress has been made in adopting the four
peacebuilding reforms that the Brahimi panel recommended. These reforms were: (1) a
“doctrinal shift” in the use of civilian police and related rule of law elements in peace
operations, (2) new budgeting procedures for DDR, (3) “flexibility for heads of United
Nations peace operations to fund ‘quick impact projects’ that make a real difference in the
lives of people in the mission area,” and (4) improvements in the integration of electoral
assistance with the overall governance strategy. p ix. The report also raised the question
about whether the U.N. should be continue to be charged with the development of
transitional administrations. If the U.N. is to continue to such operations, the report stated
a need for a center dedicated to peacebuilding tasks within the U.N. system. p 13.
46 According to a recent favorable assessment, the U.N. “has a commendable record of
success in second-generation multidimensional peacekeeping operations as diverse as those
in Namibia (UNTAG), El Salvador (ONUSAL), Cambodia (UNTAC), Mozambique
(ONUMOZ), and Eastern Slavonia/Croatia (UNTAES).” Doyle (op. cit., p 542) noted that
the multiple roles of the U.N. in these operations, as peace maker, peacekeeper,
peacebuilder, and peace enforcer, created “new dimensions of transitional authority for the
international community” that require new ways to design peace operations to avoid
withdrawing or resorting to the use of force in peace enforcement. This included the
cooperation and persuasion of outside actors to get a treaty, the need to work out new ways
to define the U.N. mandate to avoid seemingly inevitable problems of providing incentives
and capacities to carry out obligations of a treaty, and to resolve problems of
implementation, through the flexibility to be innovative.
47 Aside from political factors, some analysts have suggested criteria that the United Nations
should insist upon before accepting a peacebuilding mission, that, with appropriate
adjustments in language for the situation, may well be seen as applying to Iraq. “Before
deployment the U.N. should accept only a strong role for itself in implementation of a peace
agreement reached and then only after it has convinced itself that the parties in fact want
peace and not just a respite from pursuit of their goals by military means. The agreement
should include provisions for creating enough political space for an opposition to exist and
to have enough of a stake in the system to want to see it preserved rather than feel the only
alternative for the loser of an election is to return to war.” Jett. op. cit. p 194. Jett also
states that the U.N. should have a clear and realistic mandate.
48 Although the Bush Administration has not provided specifics on what “democracy” in
Iraq would entail, many analysts would agree with the list of key attributes described by
provide a model for the Middle East, has long been advanced as a goal of Bush
Administration officials, and was stated early on as one goal of U.S. military action.
Whether Iraq contains inherent institutional and cultural obstacles to democratization,
and if so, whether it can overcome them, is subject to debate. Some policymakers
and analysts assert the majority of Iraqis aspire to democracy, and many have the
education, skills and modern outlook to create, with international assistance, durable
democratic institutions. Others, however, point to Iraq’s lack of significant prior
experience with democratic institutions as a liability. Many analysts perceive
significant differences among the Iraqi ethnic and tribal groups that may lead to
continuing violence in a post-war Iraq, and are skeptical of the possibility of building
democratic institutions and practices on such a shaky foundation in the short, or even
the long run. Some also warn of possible anti-democratic attitudes about the
character of leadership, and other possible social, cultural, and psychological
impediments to democracy.49
Since the early 1980s, there has been a growing international interest in assisting
the development of democratic institutions and practices, of which assistance through
peacebuilding operations has been a recent manifestation.50 Literature on
democratization and peacebuilding operations highlights the difficulty of establishing
democracies in societies with deep and bitter ethnic and religious divisions. Three
places currently in the midst of extensive international peacekeeping/peacebuilding
Larry Diamond in Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation. Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1999. pp 11-12.
In brief, these are: (1) a state controlled by elected officials, who make key decisions
and allocations, where executive power is constrained by the autonomous powers of other
branches and institutions of government; (2) a political system where electoral outcomes are
uncertain, there is a significant opposition vote, and all groups that adhere to constitutional
principles are allowed to form a party and contest elections, liberties are protected by
decisions of a fair and independent judiciary which are enforced and respected; (3) a
citizenry in which all are politically equal under the law, enjoy substantial freedom to
express and practice their beliefs and culture and to organize into associations and
movements that can express and represent their interests and values, and have unrestricted
access to alternative sources of information, including independent media; and (4) a rule of
law which “protects citizens from unjustified detention, exile, terror, torture, and undue
interference in their personal lives” by both state and organized nonstate and antistate
49 See for example, International Crisis Group. op.cit., pp 11-14 (and footnote 62, below),
and Ellen Laipson. Assessing the Long-Term Challenges, in How to Build a New Iraq after
Saddam. Washington, D.C.: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2002. p 12.
[Accessible through the Stimson Center website.] Laipson perceives “a perhaps excessive
degree of respect for authority figures,” among some Iraqi exiles and those in liberated
northern areas, and cautions that “many Iraqis, acculturated as they are to the strongman
model, may revert to nondemocratic behavior, particularly if crime and disorder prevail” in
a post-Hussein period.
50 Sisk, op. cit., notes that in recent years, “internationally assisted efforts to democratize
after internal conflicts have featured prominently in Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, East Timor,
El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, South Africa,
and Zimbabwe, to name a few. Hopes are pinned on the ballot box replacing the battlefield
as the principal way in which social conflicts are waged.” p 786.
operations following civil conflict, with aspirations to create functioning
democracies, are Afghanistan (since December 2001), Kosovo (since July 1999), and
Bosnia (most intensively since 1996). The continuing ethnic, criminal and terrorist
violence in these regions provides examples of the durability of such problems.
Even without sectarian differences, establishing the institutions and mores of
democratic practices in states with conflictive and authoritarian histories, which often
involve overcoming cultures of dependency and mistrust, is a formidable
undertaking. One of the stated rationales for U.S. interventions around the turn of
the 20th century in the Philippines and throughout the Caribbean region was the
establishment of democracy. The United States encouraged democratic
constitutional models and laws, and the holding of elections, but real and enduring
democracies, in most cases, did not take root. After World War II, the United States
was successful in creating democracies during the occupations of Germany and
Japan, but conditions there were substantially different than in Iraq today. Despite
concerns of policymakers during wartime planning for the occupations that the
German and Japanese cultures were inherently anti-democratic, U.S. occupation
forces found the populations receptive to the creation of a democratic model and able
to build on previous experiences with democratic politics and government,
particularly in Germany, to replace the defeated, authoritarian governments. Once
on the ground, occupation planners soon became convinced that a primary threat to
democracy came from the devastated economies of the defeated countries, where
material want and misery might make strongman leaders again attractive.
Recent experiences with conflict resolution and peacebuilding, which emphasize
the necessity of a comprehensive approach encompassing all levels of society and
politics, may point to some of the inadequacies of early U.S. democracy-building
efforts. Since the early 1990s, analysts of international efforts to encourage
democracies have increasingly asserted a need to put into place a wide array of
institutions, practices, and attitudes, as well as a functioning economy capable of
absorbing demobilized soldiers,51 to make democracy work. One author emphasizes
the profound changes necessary to create a culture in which peacebuilding
operations can succeed: “If a peacekeeping operation is to leave behind a legitimate
and independently viable political sovereign, it must help transform the political
landscape by building a new basis for domestic peace....successful contemporary
peacebuilding not only changes behavior but, more important, also transforms
51 There is an extensive literature on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR)
that notes that the retraining and reintegration of demobilized soldiers is a costly and time
consuming process. Scores of separate tasks must be performed by a wide variety of
governmental, international and non-governmental agencies in order to successful integrate
military and paramilitary forces into a peaceful society. See U.S. Agency for International
Development. USAID Experience in Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and
Reconciliation (DDRR), [http://www.usaid.gov/regions/afr/conflictweb/demob_exp.html];
and Kees Kingma. Demobilization and Reintegration of Ex-combatants in Post-war and
Transition Countries: Trends and Challenges of External Support. Eschborn, Germany:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für, 2001. Available through [http://www.gtz.de].
identities and institutional context. More than reforming play in an old game, it
changes the game.”52
Other analysts of peacebuilding efforts warn that some early attempts at
democratization in post-conflict states were counterproductive, generating conditions
for renewed warfare. One observation on the vulnerability of such states to the
“societal tensions that naturally arise from the process of democratization and
marketization”53 may be relevant to Iraq, where some suggest that a sense of national
community is at best tenuous and new sources of discord, such as possible growing
income disparities, may exacerbate existing frictions.
Depending on how Iraq’s post-conflict situation evolves, “lessons learned” from
the implementation of peacebuilding programs in five areas may be of particular
interest to policymakers in considering how best to create conditions for success in
Iraq. These areas are: (1) guarantees of the rule of law; (2) the role of civic society
and local participation; (3) the appropriate timing and conditions for elections; (4) the
utility of powersharing arrangements, and (5) the establishment of international
Guaranteeing the Rule of Law. In addition to the security tasks listed in the
previous section, some analysts of peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations cite
the immediate creation of institutions to guarantee the rule of law as essential to the
establishment of a secure climate in which democracy can prosper. While the rule
of law starts with a democratic constitution, and requires a representative parliament,
analysts have found that the institutions which most directly touch the lives of the
citizens, ensuring their rights day-to-day and deeply affecting their perception of their
government, are often those which most urgently need to be built or rebuilt in post-
An analysis of seven peacekeeping experiences — Cambodia, El Salvador,
Mozambique, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Panama, — identified two crucial rule of
law “gaps” that could create extreme difficulties. The first was an “enforcement
gap,” i.e., a lack of police forces capable of dealing with serious lawlessness and
violent domestic disorder, as discussed earlier. The second, was an “institutional
gap,” i.e., the lack of an adequate number of impartial and competent judges, humane
prisons and jailers, and a fair and coherent legal code, in post-conflict societies.54
Former U.S. Ambassador William G. Walker, who has played a prominent role
in three peace operations, suggests the complexities, and long-term nature, of efforts
to strengthen the rule of law by developing the above-mentioned institutions. “All
parts of a legal system — the judiciary, the prosecutors, the bar, the police, the prison
system, the codes — must work properly and in synchronization. If a single
52 Doyle. op. cit., p 544.
53 Paris. op.cit., p 767. Paris recommends: “During this period of institution construction,
the international community should curb political and economic freedoms in war-shattered
states, because failing to do so in the absence of effective domestic institutions risks
54 Dziedzic, op.cit., pp 11-15.
component is left unreformed, the system will continue to generate injustice.
Decades are required to produce a new police, not to mention a transformed
judiciary, composed of officials not schooled in the behavior of the past. Few
international donors have the patience, long-term commitment, or resources
necessary to assume such a burden.”55
For Iraq, analysts have recommended a variety of means to help assure the rule
of law. In addition to recommendations regarding the police, discussed earlier,
analysts have recommended a variety of forms of legal assistance, such as teams of
international legal specialists — including lawyers, judges, court administrators and
corrections officers — to monitor, train, and supplement Iraqi personnel.56 As of late
April, 2003, the United States Army had begun to assess the judicial system in Iraq,57
and as mentioned earlier, the State Department has begun the bidding process on
assistance for the police, and justice and prison systems.
A recent review of rule of law assistance programs since the 1980s indicates
that their contribution to strengthening democracy is uncertain. “Rule of law aid
practitioners can probably prescribe rule-of-law programs with a safe belief that these
initiatives may well be helpful to both economic development and democratization,”
according to one analyst, “but they really do not know to what extent there are direct
causal connections at work and whether similar resources directed elsewhere might
produce greater effect on economic or political conditions.”58
The extent to which such assistance would help Iraq establish institutions
imbued with a democratic ethos may well depend on how deeply Iraqis desire
democratization. In an assessment of many democratization programs since 1989,
the same analyst found that the degree of success correlated with a country’s overall
progress towards democracy. Concluding that “no dramatic results should be
55 Foreword in Manwaring and Joes pp x-xi: As Ambassador to El Salvador (1988-1992)
Walker played a role in peacekeeping in El Salvador. He was also Special Representative
of the U.N. Secretary General, heading the U.N. Transitional Administration mission to
Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), Croatia, and head of the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Verification Mission.
56 Iraq: The Day After, op.cit. pp. 33-34, and A Wiser Peace, op.cit., p 21.
57 Bernard Weinraub and Warren Hoge. Trying to Restore a Functioning Legal System to
the Land of Hammurabi’s Code. New York Times. April 20, 2003, p B6. For a review of
Iraq’s judicial and legal system as it existed during the Hussein Regime, see Robert Perito.
op.cit., pp 5-9.
58 Thomas Carothers. Promoting the Rule of Law Aboard: The Problem of Knowledge.
Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, January 2003. Working
Paper No. 34. p 7. This report can be accessed through the Carnegie Endowment website.
Noting that many rule of law programs focus on improving courts and police, “on the
assumption that this is the most direct route to improve compliance with law in the country,”
Carothers counters that “some research shows that compliance with law depends most
heavily on the perceived fairness and legitimacy of the laws, characteristics that are not
established primarily by the courts but by other means, such as the political process. An
effort to improve compliance thus might more fruitfully take a completely different
approach.” pp 8-9.
expected from democracy promotion effort” as they “can do little to change the
fundamental social, economic, and political structures and conditions that shape
political life in other countries,” this author argued that nonetheless the United States
should not abandon its commitment to advancing democracy, but instead approach
democracy promotion “as a long-term, uncertain venture.”59
Role of Civic Society and Local Participation. Increasingly, analysts
have come to view the establishment of appropriate governmental institutions as a
necessary, but insufficient condition for the creation of a well functioning democracy.
Also important, many believe, is the development of a culture which fosters
tolerance, the exchange of ideas, respect for human rights, and active citizen
participation. International democratization efforts include support for an increasing
variety of “civic society” groups, non-governmental institutions, the press, particular
interest organizations (such as unions, business, professional, and legal associations,
and human rights groups). Such efforts were an important component of the U.S.
democracy building efforts after World War II in Japan, where such organizations
were created or strengthened, and in Germany, where they were revitalized. Recent
peacekeeping literature emphasizes the need for a high level of “civil society”
participation, particularly at the local level, in the creation of representative
institutions from the “bottom up.”60 International donors are currently providing
assistance to such groups in Afghanistan, where few such organizations existed.
Support for such group has also played a role in post-conflict democratization efforts
in South Africa, and in the transitions from communism or authoritarianism to
democracy in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
One policy institution recently cited a need for the international community to
“focus on” the many local groups in Iraq, which may, or may not, provide a basis for
local level democratization.61 Its analysis found that it is still too early to determine
whether existing local organizations based on traditional and hierarchical sources of
power, such as tribal and religious structures, will contribute to or hinder the
development of a Western-style democracy there. It also noted, however, that Iraq
“already has a wide range of professional and trade associations that can serve as
building blocs for more open and transparent consultations and provide a
counterweight to more traditional, ethnic-religious groups.”62 Some analysts,
59 Thomas Carothers. Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve. Washington, D.C.:
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999. p 351.
60 Sisk, op.cit., p 796: “A useful lens for analyzing tasks of postwar peacemaking is “conflict
transformation,’ in which coherent efforts are put into place to build democracy and conflict
resolution from the bottom up, over time.”
61 International Crisis Group, op.cit., p 34
62 International Crisis Group, op.cit., p 32. According to this report, traditional social forces
such as remnants of Iraqi tribal structures and religious establishments “remain vibrant in
Iraq’s provincial towns and rural areas. Steady migration has also brought them to the heart
of Baghdad and other major cities. These traditional forces should be neither ignored,
exaggerated nor empowered. It is important to examine their social functions, as well as
the sources and limitations of their power to determine the extent to which they can
contribute to — or alternatively obstruct — a transition to a democratic, pluralistic and
however, believe that these groups have been dominated by the Baath party, and thus
may not be appropriate vehicles for democratization efforts.
As described by analysts of peace operations, civil society is important in
several ways to furthering democratic processes.63 One way support for such groups
promotes democracy is that it enables populations to take “ownership” of the
process, building cooperation at a grass-roots level, and providing checks on
government. Another is that local civil society institutions can address “key issues
such as reconciliation, justice, and human rights...that go to the heart of what many
consider to be the root causes of civil wars.”64 A third is that such institutions can
foster a culture that promotes democratic governance.
Whether international assistance to support civil society in Iraq would similarly
contribute to democratization is unknown. While it is difficult to judge the effects
of democratization aid in general, judging the degree to which assistance to such
groups can promote democracy is even more problematic. One extensive study of
such groups stated that it could not reach a definitive answer regarding the effect of
civil society assistance on overall political change, but found that “evidence fairly
consistently indicated that such assistance alone is unlikely to be a major factor” in
promoting democratization.65 Still, despite noting numerous problems with civil
society aid and suggesting reforms, the authors recounted several benefits of such aid,
including the establishment of “the important idea that civil society has a rightful role
Appropriate Conditions for and Timing of Elections. Carefully
structured and internationally supervised elections, at all levels, have been the
centerpiece of most peacebuilding and democratization efforts since the early 1990s.
They have also been established as the end points of international and U.S. “exit
strategies” for peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. While the Bush
Administration and other policymakers are now indicating that elections are the
appropriate path to democracy in Iraq, past experience suggests caution concerning
the timing and objectives of elections. According to some, elections that are held too
soon after a conflict has ended become disruptive rather than contributing to stability.
inclusive political system.” p 11.
63 Diamond, op.cit., in discussing democratic systems in general, lists 13 separate ways in
which a “vibrant civil society serves the development, deepening, and consolidation of
democracy...” pp 239-250. He also lists several caveats, including the need for autonomy
from the state in financing, operations, and legal standing. pp 250-260. The three
contributions cited here are those discussed in post-conflict literature.
64 Stephen John Stedman. Implementing Peace Agreements in Civil Wars: Lessons and
Recommendations for Policymakers. New York: IPA (International Peace Academy) Policy
Paper Series on Peace Implementation, May 2001. p 19.
65 Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers, eds. Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and
Democracy Promotion. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
66 Ottaway and Carothers, op.cit., p 308.
In the words of one analyst: “Paradoxically, to proceed precipitously with elections
may turn out to be the least productive way to build peace and ensure the emergence
Unlike the cases on which this assessment is based, Iraq is not emerging from
a civil war. Given, however, the probable weakness of any political alternatives to
the Baath party, the observed tendency of elections to consolidate the power of
existing organizations and leaders, and to prevent the emergence of new ones, may
prove just as problematic in post-Hussein Iraq as it has in countries emerging from
civil wars. According to some analysts, early post-conflict elections have entrenched
leaders of extremist factions: “not infrequently, early elections influence the balance
of societal forces in ways that are inimical to the consolidation of peace. In Bosnia,
the elections held under the Dayton accords consolidated and formalized nationalist
divisions within society and served to complicate an already complex and highly
contentious peace process.”68 In addition, some analysts suggest that the political
competition inherent to democracy can exacerbate frictions or conflict in deeply
divided societies.69 Nevertheless, one analyst believes that even “with all their real
and perceived flaws,” elections are, in the long run, “imperative,” as they provide the
necessary legitimacy “to implement rehabilitation and reconciliation policies.”70
To ensure that elections are held under the most propitious circumstances, one
study suggests that elections be delayed until certain preconditions can be met, most
of which may still be lacking in Iraq. These preconditions are: (1) the “existence of
a state capable of performing the essential functions expected of it,” (2) a “working
consensus...about national boundaries, the structure and functioning of the
government, and relations between national and subnational units,” (3) a
“demonstrable political commitment on the part of the major conflicting parties to
carry out the agreed-upon peace accord or pact,” and (4) “significant progress toward
demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.”71 In the interim, the authors of
this study suggest the adoption of coalition arrangements and reconciliation measures
that confer legitimacy on a temporary government.72
67 Charles-Phillipe David, Does Peacebuilding Build Peace? in Ho-Won Jeong, ed.
Approaches to Peacebuilding. Hampshire, UK: Palgrove MacMillan, 2002., p 74.
68 Ball, op.cit, pp 722-723.
69 Charles-Philippe David. op.cit., p 35. David cautions that “it is the political competition
that sustains democracy that often sharpens conflict instead of muting it in a deeply divided
and fragile society,” as , he states, occurred in Angola, Rwanda and Bosnia.”
“Elections, even when supported by external powers, rarely settle the fundamental
issue of political competition as a legitimate process, recognised [sic] and accepted by all....
In other words, the electoral process does not ultimately guarantee that political competition
will become an institutionalised [sic] practice in the society in question.”
70 Sisk, op.cit., p 798.
71 Krishna Kumar and Marina Ottaway. General Conclusions and Priorities for Policy
Research, in Krishna Kumar, ed. Postconflict Elections, Democratization and International
Assistance. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1998. pp 234-235.
72 The U.N. 2000 “Brahimi Report” on peace operations also states that the context in which
Utility of Powersharing Arrangements.Potential problems with
elections as the vehicle to representative government in post-conflict situations has
led to new thinking about the utility of powersharing arrangements. Although some
analysts will argue that the 1995 Dayton accord’s permanent geographical
powersharing arrangements in Bosnia, which divided the country into two regions
along ethnic lines, were a mistake, temporary solutions have been looked to as
providing a bridge to an eventual elected government. In Afghanistan, after the
coalition forces ousted the ruling Taliban forces in November 2001, interim
powersharing arrangements were put in place to govern Afghanistan through the
mediation of the United Nations. In December 2001, delegates of the major Afghan
factions signed an agreement in Bonn, Germany, to form an interim administration
that would govern for six months, while a traditional national assembly (loya jirga)
was being organized to choose a national government. In June 2002, the loya jirga
selected Hamid Karzai, head of the interim administration, to head a national
government until elections are held in two years, and it endorsed Karzai’s cabinet,
which contained leaders and representatives from the various factions. Some
analysts now argue that the Afghan arrangements can provide a model for the
formation of a government in Iraq.73
Although the concept of such arrangements may seem anti-democratic to many
observers, some analysts have seen powersharing arrangements as an essential
element in settling or avoiding some civil wars in countries where there sharp
division among ethnic or religious groups. And, one fundamental requirement for
such effective peacekeeping, according to some analysts, is that such operations
include all “local stakeholders — including those who have been the victims of war
as well as those who have been the perpetrators of war — [and put them] at the74
center of external support for rebuilding...” In Iraq, too, powersharing arrangements
elections are held is important to the success of peacebuilding efforts. According to the
report, elections “need the support of a broader process of democratization and civil society
building that includes effective civilian governance and a culture of respect for basic human
rights, lest elections merely ratify a tyranny of the majority or be overturned by force after
a peace operations leaves. The Brahimi Report. op.cit., p 7.
73 For details on the Bonn conference and subsequent governing arrangements, see CRS
Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Current Issues and U.S. Policy, pp 9-11.
Two analysts have suggested very specific post-conflict arrangements in Iraq involving
a partial power and resource sharing formula for a future Iraqi government, with each of the
country’s three major subgroups (the Kurds, Sunni Muslims, and Shiite Muslims, roughly
corresponding to three separate regions) enjoying a fair degree of autonomy within a
decentralized federal system, with authorities granted to the lowest possible levels and
strongest power at the regional level, a division of oil revenues among the groups, and a
two-chamber legislature with seats in the upper chamber divided among the three regions
and the lower chamber elected from the entire population. John C. Hulsman and James
Phillips. Forging a Durable Post-War Political Settlement in Iraq. The Heritage
Foundation. March 7, 2003.
74 Ball, op.cit., p 733. The point that it should include all parties is also made by Doyle, op.
cit., p. 543: “It needs to discover ways to generate voluntary cooperation from divided
local political actors and mobilize existing local resources for locally legitimate, collective
may be useful in gaining legitimacy for a new government and in curbing potential
strife or violence among contending factions. (Such arrangements may also help to
retain capable people in government. Many analysts state that the continuation of
Iraqi governmental functions will depend on the retention of bureaucrats, some of
whom, particularly at the upper levels, are Baath party members, if not loyalists.)
Still, as in the case of Afghanistan, where political violence continues to occur and
some analysts believe threatens to undermine the new government, a powersharing
arrangement alone may not guarantee a successful transition. According to one
study that looked at the settlement of civil wars, third-party security guarantees and
enforcement are often necessary as well.75
Some analysts have also suggested that some form of power-sharing formula
be integrated into an electoral formula as one means of insuring stability in
peacebuilding operations. As argued by one analyst, power-sharing provisions for
winners and losers in elections can be helpful in some circumstances: “There need
to be positions for both winners and losers in a new government. Winner-take-all
elections are seen as zero-sum contests. Unless there is some form of compensation,
the loser will have strong incentives to take up arms and turn to a renewed campaign
of violence in pursuit of political objectives.” 76 Nevertheless, this analyst also notes
tensions between powersharing arrangements and the achievement of other goals,
such as ensuring human rights and promoting justice.77 In addition, one analyst
points out that, in some situations, such arrangements may provide only weak
incentives to moderate extremist positions, thus making democracy vulnerable to
purposes. And it must do so rapidly.”
75 Walters, op. cit., p 106. Also, see David, op.cit., p 37: Concerning the utility of elections
vs. powersharing, David noted that an international conference on peacebuilding held in
Berlin in 1996 concluded that the U.N. overemphasized election, as elections “‘within a
fragmented society could only lead to further fragmentation. What are required are models
of powersharing.’” David quotes W. Kühne, ed. Winning the Peace: Concept and Lessons
Learned of Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. Report from an international workshop held in
Berlin, July 4-6, 1996. Ebenhausen, Germany: Stiftund Wissenschaft und Politik. p 5.
76 Hampson, op.cit., p 218.
77 Hampson, op cit., p 230. “There is an obvious tension between conflict resolution and
the promotion of human rights, judicial reform, and the development of legal systems
governed by due process....The need to establish power-sharing structures that accommodate
rival factions and interests may well clash with the desires of some to root out the
perpetrators of human rights abuses. Similarly, the need to reform the security institutions
of the state, including the police and military, may be at odd with the practical need to bring
into the peace process those groups that wield power and have a monopoly on the
instruments of coercion in a society. Without peace there can be no justice. Without
justice, democratic institutions, and the development of the rule of law, the peace itself will
not last. But the political requirements for reaching a peace settlement may well conflict
with the desire to lay the foundations for long-term democratic stability.”
78 Sisk, op.cit., p 792. The negative example cited was Fiji. Positive examples were
Nigeria, South Africa, and Northern Ireland.
Establishing International Norms. Even among analysts of peace
operations who acknowledge the difficulties of establishing democracies, some argue
that the only solutions to differences are reached through the establishment of
democratic practices. Arguing for international organizations to adopt norms and
practices that promote democracy, one analyst argued that “Sustained peace in deeply
divided societies requires a formula for the recognition and tolerance of ethnic
differences, strong legal protections for individual and group rights, and political
institutions that encourage bargaining, compromise, and inclusive coalitions.” He
urged the continued development of international mediation and monitoring
practices, and the establishment of new international norms on democracy, “such as79
an international right to local freedom of choice.” Some urge international donors
to fund and improve such efforts despite some failures.80
How Long Is a Peacebuilding Presence Necessary?
The Bush Administration has not announced any comprehensive plans for
peacebuilding activities in Iraq, although it has recently contracted for one
peacebuilding activity (see the sections on police and on the rule of law, above).
Recent evaluations of peacebuilding missions suggest that a time frame longer than
two years may be necessary to put in place and consolidate the basic structures of
democracy in an enduring framework. Much will depend, however, on Iraqis’ ability
to control sectarian differences, hasten economic recovery and growth, and retain
experienced people in government, as well as the length of time it takes Iraqis to
agree on a political structure.
In examining several U.N. peacekeeping/peacebuilding missions, one analyst
judged the one to two year transition periods (in Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, El
Salvador and Mozambique) to be “too short to record significant progress on even
the reforms prescribed by the peace accords, let alone those that are necessary to81
consolidate the peace but are not mandated by the accords....” She pointed out that
time constraints, such as restrictions on the length of mandates, were often due to
resource constraints and created difficulties in retaining high quality staff, among
other problems.82 Another analyst who also notes that the one to three year length of
79 Sisk, op.cit., p 799.
80 Sisk. op.cit., p 795. “Should relative successes like El Salvador and South Africa inspire
our thinking about democratization after civil war, or should the perils revealed by
Cambodia (which suffered setbacks to democracy after a period of failed power sharing) and
Bosnia inform our views? The answer, of course, is both.”
81 Ball, op.cit. p. 722. “Peace agreements frequently decree that major institutional changes
that normally require a significant amount of time to implement — such as developing an
electoral system, restructuring the security forces, or reforming the judicial branch of
government — be completed in a year or two, before the peacekeeping mandate of the
international community expires.” pp 720-721.
82 Ball, op.cit., p. 727. According to Ball, “very short mandates, even if the intention of the
Security Council is to renew them, create significant problems in recruiting and retraining
high-quality staff, as well as give the impression to parties seeking to avoid complying with
peace agreements that they can ‘wait out’ the international community.” Ball puts great
U.N. missions typical of more recent operations has been too short, recommends
linking the termination of peace operations to the accomplishment of specific
objectives. He estimates a decade as “probably a minimum in most circumstances.”83
In any case, although the variety of views and precedents, and the unique conditions
in Iraq as it other societies, makes it difficult to forecast precise outcomes and
timeframes with certainty, the study of past experiences can nonetheless provide
valuable guidelines for initiating peacebuilding activities an evaluating their progress.
emphasis on the need for highly competent people, with a caveat. “High-caliber, experienced
individuals are critical to the success of peacebuilding; the right people can often overcome
significant institutional and organizational deficits. At the same time, too much continues
to depend on individuals...” p. 733.
83 Paris, op.cit., p 780.