Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich have an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal on how to build civil society in Iraq from the ground up:
The week before Christmas, the Pentagon asked Congress to approve a supplemental $100 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the estimated $500 billion spent to date. The administration should direct a small percent of that amount to create an Iraqi Citizen Job Corps, along the lines of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The Job Corps can operate under the supervision of our military and with its protection. The Army Corps of Engineers might be particularly helpful in directing this effort. It will place our military in a constructive relationship with the Iraqis–both literally and figuratively.
The wages that these thousands of gainfully employed workers receive will be used to purchase goods and services that will employ other Iraqis. Those goods and services must be produced by still other Iraqis. These are the first steps in creating the requisite conditions of a stable functioning economy and the best hope of displacing retribution and violence with hope and opportunity.
This plan is a valuable one — we’ve done very little on the ground to get the average Iraqi employed, and that’s feeding both the decay of civil order and the sectarian fighting. A jobs program can keep thousands of Iraqis in productive employment, which will help stabilize the country. It will take some money and manpower to administer, but not enough to be a major drain on resources — and the results of such a program would be highly beneficial.
Civil society come from the ground up, not the top down. Ideas such as the oil trust and this jobs program are designed to give more freedom and autonomy to the average Iraqi. They’re ideas that should have been implemented from the beginning, but can still make a difference now. The Iraqi people aren’t stupid — unending sectarian war benefits only thugs like Moqtada al-Sadr at the expense of everyone else. If the average person is empowered enough to be able to create a better situation for themselves, they will. The hard part is seeing that they have that power and are able to exercise it without fear of violence.