The Corner

All reconstruction politics is local

Clare Lockhart and Joseph Konzelmann write in The Washington Times that “Iraq needs an ownership surge“:

The military surge in Iraq has created conditions favorable for long-term stability. Now a new approach to economic reconstruction is needed to sustain the hard-fought military gains.

The top-down model of the Iraq government and international donors isn’t working: Last year Iraq spent only 4 percent of its $10 billion capital projects budget, according to the U.S. General Accountability Office. The problem is that Iraq lacks the national-level capacity to spend its money effectively. We propose a new approach — one predicated on local partnerships.

I’ve been arguing for a highly decentralized approach to Iraq for five years now. One of the big obstacles to that is that the UN and the other transnational nannies are “top-down” by definition. That’s why anything that has the misfortune to attract their attention turns into the geopolitical equivalent of a dysfunctional housing project to be managed in perpetuity (the Palestinian “refugee camps” celebrating their diamond jubilee under UN management being only the most conspicuous example). In Iraq, what works works locally and then percolates upward. That’s true for most functioning societies.   

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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