By Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER
Iraqi leaders have asked for help in building their young democracy and taming a growing insurgency -- and the world had better step up to the plate, especially the United States. Remaining on the current course, we would have to be enormously lucky for things to improve.
The United States has had plenty of chances to make the Iraq intervention successful. We have known for two years that we did not have enough troops on the ground. We could have done more to lead the Iraqis toward a federal system. And we could have taken a different approach with our allies and not been so headstrong.
Still, there are 11th-hour moves we can make. We have to start by formulating a clear national strategy that provides military security, economic recovery and political satisfaction. We also must have the real U.S. leader for Iraq stand up, and that person must be the president.
Let's consider the insubstantial force issue first. Time has made that challenge even more severe. I am not suggesting the draft; that's not the answer. One solution is to increase the size of the U.S. military, with a focus on enlarging the infantry. We must also provide bigger incentives for young people to join the military. We also should make a strong attempt to get our allies more involved. Iraq is a global problem, and the world is going to suffer if we are unsuccessful. Furthermore, we should be willing to expand the role of the peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters who have been used in the northern part of Iraq.
With a larger force, we would stand a better chance of drying up the source of much of the turmoil by keeping troublemakers out of Iraq, ferreting them out inside Iraq and disrupting their indigenous recruiting base.
Another way to foil the insurgency is to stimulate the Iraqi economy. I have been talking about providing money directly to families for a long time; it's never too late. We also need to re-examine and reinvigorate the debate about how to share Iraq's oil and gas revenues.
All of that would be possible if we had a coherent national strategy about the end state. Too many Americans, including several elected officials, are preoccupied with an exit strategy. You cannot think about an exit strategy until you have determined what you want success to be and how you will accomplish it.
If I were advising President Bush on Iraq, I would tell him to make a major public presentation that says the following:
U"We have been in Iraq for more than two years, and we went in for the right reasons. Saddam Hussein was a global problem, a menace, a protector of terrorists, a source of instability and a human-rights abuser. With him, we had no hope of moving the Middle East toward peace, democracy and prosperity. Without him, we have a fledgling democratic government in Iraq and signs of political progress elsewhere.
U"But we face greater problems with domestic insurgents and foreign terrorists than we anticipated. Now is the time to redouble our efforts. I am immediately assuming a more active role and have directed the U.S. military force levels be increased by 50,000 more troops, with the preponderance of that directed toward the Army and Marine Corps. In addition, I will personally engage allied countries to press them for troops to seal the borders and assist in providing faster military training of the Iraqi army and police.
U"Next, I intend to provide the necessary comfort level for Iraqis, which will likely be different for Kurds, Shia and Sunnis. Kurds want what they have lost plus what they have gained in the past 13 years. Sunnis want protection from the Shia and the ability to survive economically. The Shia have a different agenda, with a greater role for religion; and whether they say it or not, they want domination of the society. But no one should dominate. The only way to provide the necessary comfort level to all is to have a federal system, with each major group controlling its own geographic entity, as part of a weaker central government.
U"To stimulate Iraq's economy, I have ordered that $1,000 be immediately provided to every Iraqi family. I also have instructed that we focus our economic-planning effort on ways to share Iraq's oil and gas revenue directly with the Iraqi people and the provinces that a federal system will create. I additionally have ordered the establishment of a special works project for the unemployed Iraqi youth. "
We need more than words now on Iraq; we need leadership. That leadership must come from the president.
X Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner is the former director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Post-War Iraq. He wrote this commentary for the Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.