Reader Carol Herman alerted me to this excellent Austin Bay "Strategy Page" discussion of an interview with Donald Rumsfield.
Saddam Hussein's economic and political policies damaged agriculture in the land that eight millennia ago spawned the Agricultural Revolution. (Heck of an achievement, huh?) Agriculture, Commerce and several NGOs have expertise and programs that are helping revive Iraqi farms. Still, problems occur when trying to tailor programs to meet specific local needs -- like, who pays for the program and who is ultimately in charge of oversight and coordination.This kind of effort is called "Unified Action". Here is how we used to direct those efforts.
Our system for "Unified Action" is still largely a Cold War, 20th century relic designed to prop up governments (so often corrupt and ill-led), instead of helping individuals and neighborhoods become economically self-sustaining and self-securing. Winning war in the Age of the Internet means improving neighborhoods and individual lives. The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and micro-finance whiz Muhammad Yunus understands this.Austin Bay points out something he saw in Iraq.
While serving in Iraq in 2004, I met a young U.S. Army captain who was running a successful small-scale date palm restoration project. What we really need are joint development and security teams, where agricultural and economic specialists work with that captain "in the field" on a sustained, day-to-day basis. We need to decide who is in charge of that team (the captain or the arborist?) and how we fund it.Here is the hot question Austin asked Secratary Rumsfeld.
"Mr. Secretary, based on our experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the limited interagency and non-governmental organization (NGO) participation in that operation, how do you see 'Unified Action' evolving for future conflicts?"This really is key for speeding improvement in Iraq. Get every one on the same page. This is particularly true of those elemetnts which Secratary Rumsfeld has some fairly direct influence.
The politically deft SecDef finessed the question -- and it was finesse, not dodge. The military jargon masked a heavy political hand grenade I was rolling toward the Beltway. You think Harry Reid's land deal or Mark Foley's messages are big stories? How about a stinging pre-election turf battle between Defense and the departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Commerce and Agriculture, complete with zinger accusations of who is or isn't contributing to the war effort?I'd like to see people and organizations competing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people.
I know, that's quite a claim, which is why I need to translate the mil-speak: Unified Action means coordinating and synchronizing every "tool of power" America possesses to achieve a political end -- like winning a global war for national survival against terrorists who hijack economically and politically fragile nations and provinces.
People understand the role of soldiers and cops in a war, but in 21st century wars where economic and political development are determinative, an arborist at the Department of Agriculture and a Commerce Department trade consultant can be powerful contributors to "Unified Action."
Do you think the Democrats would be interested?