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June 29, 2006

North Korea busted: Iraq hopeful?
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Looks like the only thing  that wacky dictator of North Korea  can launch is a blast of hot air across the ocean. Upon examination, the missile launch threat looks pretty bogus. Not that all the hype kept Congress from dumping another 45 million dollars into the Alaskan tundra for the "missile defense" program--which is fast becoming Alaska's mythical creature, like the Sasquatch in Montana or Nessie in Scotland. Lots of almost-sightings, but never the real deal.  This on top of the increasing worry that the military can't make payroll.  Priorities anyone?

Council for a Livable World has put up a clickable record of last week's Senate Iraq debate here.    Hopeful news from Iraq... a political reconciliation proposal is on the table.  A civil affairs friend who was in Iraq last year (and who  still helps train Army troops pre-deployment) credits Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzhad with this breakthrough. This proposal is the first concrete sign of an American/Iraqi civilian-led strategy in Iraq, in fact because our primary military strategy of door-kicking and city flattening has made the reconciliation part nigh impossible.

"Everyone has talked reconciliation but played whack a mole" he tells me. He also thinks
Khalilzad was the first American leader to successfully link the  military strategy to support for a political process...which has brought in the uncomfortable possibility of amnesty. The tradeoff of justice for peace is probably one of the most difficult steps a nation can take...It has an illustrated history just in the last couple of decades. Concilation Resources has a helpful directory of peace accords online. Plus a list of amnesties....a glance through these is a good  refresher in the current accusatory climate over who's in and who's out of the Iraq deal.

Many lament that aggressive "democratization" under the Bush Administration has tainted a key set of American foreign policy values.  This is true and it will take some damage control for us to be believable from here on out. Yet the notion that self-determination yields better outcomes at every level is a worthy national security value--for prevention, post conflict, and we hope in Iraq-- during an identity war itself. We need to get good at dealing with complexity and conflicting identities because these will be the biggest challenges for security in an era of globalization.
Conflict resolution strategies that enable political pluralism were underlying themes for much of President Clinton's national security and military policies--In the military it was called "shaping" stability--more or less a hearts and minds campaign at all times.
As we keep our fingers crossed for Iraq's new leaders and their reconciliation plan, we should also think about how to revise this integrated "whole of government" approach to national security.  Indeed, the US facilitating political conflict resolution must replace preventive war as the centerpiece of today's strategy.  Hopefully this will be the lesson we draw from Iraq's effort. 


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