The replacement of Jay Garner, a retired Army general, with L. Paul Bremer, a retired ambassador, in Iraq was, unfortunately, predictable. It has nothing to do with them personally and everything to do with how the United States educates its leaders to wage peace.
In the last two years, the United States has won wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both were won quickly-in daring and unconventional fashion-as our military applied flexible strategies that fit the environment. The agility of mind and maneuver necessary to develop and implement such strategies, however, does not come from reactive hindsight or political expediency. It comes from the institutionalized education of a cadre of officers over the span of their careers.
We too quickly forget, however, that the military is but one element of national power, a sophisticated hammer at best. As Talleyrand once told Napoleon, "Bayonets are good, only you can't sit on them." In Afghanistan, we were too slow to realize that once hostilities were over, peacekeeping might actually create the conditions for follow-on socio-economic initiatives that could win the peace. Because those initiatives were uncoordinated, and because a countrywide peacekeeping plan has not been implemented, we have yet to create a secure environment. Today, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is essentially the mayor of Kabul.
In Iraq, Gen. Garner's staff spent its first week in Baghdad looking for desks and Internet connections. We are capable of assembling teams of assorted experts to find mobile bio-weapons labs but we can't set up a mobile Staples unit to ensure that Jay Garner can hit the ground running? We had the perfect troop strength to win the war but we could not anticipate the troops required to secure streets, museums, nuclear sites and mass graves?
We tend to think that peace follows war in linear fashion. But nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that American military commanders are not educated to enable peace and that diplomatic leaders are not educated to truly understand the role of force. We need a new model.
Consider some lessons learned from Malaysia, where the United Kingdom waged a counterinsurgency effort from 1948 to 1960. The initial approach, with the military in the lead, failed and was soon replaced by a civilian-led effort that harnessed all the elements of British and Malaysian power. This effort used a comprehensive structure of national, regional and local committees to implement a strategy of security and civic action.
Each committee included the relevant elements of British and Malaysian power-police, military, nongovernmental and religious organizations. These committees were empowered to make decisions locally. The result was the de-politicization of socio-economic and civic initiatives. If local people had grievances they could take them to one of the standing committees. Not only did this capacity to address issues locally begin to habitualize rule-of-law procedures, it allowed the national committee to stay focused on strategic initiatives. The committees were backed by a new constabulary and civil service, which, in turn, were affirmed by the presence of small groups of British troops-not an overwhelming force-throughout the country.
The Marine Corps learned the same lessons during the 1920s and 1930s in Central America. The lessons are captured in the Corps' 1940 Small Wars Manual. It says the State Department should exercise a "constant and controlling influence over the military operations." As the manual makes clear, all of the elements of national power had a role to play, and were expected to do so. Then, as now, however, experience, not education, developed U.S. military and diplomatic leaders. We need both.
The situation in Afghanistan and Iraq is clear and the need is acute: we must educate our military and non-military leaders in government to wage peace. Our complex, interrelated world requires it and our national security needs demand it. Specifically, we should consider anew the recommendations of the 1997 National Defense Panel, which called for the creation of a "cadre of interagency professionals," and the 2001 Hart-Rudman Commission, which suggested the creation of a "national security service corps." To gain a place in such a cadre of experts, diplomats might spend a tour with the military and military officers might be assigned to work with humanitarian nongovernmental organizations or the World Bank.
To ensure that Americans did not die in vain in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States must have leaders who understand the role of force as well as the intricacies of market economies and rule-of-law initiatives. We need to grow these leaders by design instead of finding them by default. We should enable Paul Bremer to do well and we should apologize to Jay Garner for setting him up to fail. And to prevent ourselves from getting into this predictable plight again, we should institute an interagency education system that is truly capable of educating Americans to wage peace. Otherwise our leaders will continue to react to symptoms instead of crafting solutions.