To establish even a marginally functioning economy out of the wreckage of Iraq would have been a daunting task. Despite decades of a heavily controlled, state-run economy; the deterioration caused by a succession of wars; a decade of international sanctions; and the looting and sabotage that followed the 2003 war, the U.S. government set its sights high after toppling Saddam Hussein: to create a liberal, market-based Iraqi economy, a key piece of its broader goal to bring democracy to Iraq.
Post-conflict reconstruction theory and practice have advanced considerably over the last few years, yet the U.S. government and the international community still lack forward-leaning, pragmatic, reliable models for measuring progress in post-conflict settings. Efforts to assess progress in Iraq have been lost in the midst of rumors on the one end and overblown lists of achievements on the other. The sources usually relied upon, from media to U.S. governmentgenerated, do not on their own tell a complete story, and often reflect underlying biases or weaknesses. The Iraqi voice has been a key missing ingredient in most discussions and assessments of Iraq’s reconstruction. In this context, we set out to develop a broad-based, data-rich, multidisciplinary model for measuring progress in Iraq that has as its core the Iraqi perspective. This report assesses the readiness of Iraqis to take charge of their country, both in terms of actual progress on the ground in reconstruction efforts and the way Iraqis perceive current events. We blended several popular theories for methodology, diversified our research, and devised a system to evaluate information and progress in a quantifiable way.
This report recommends ten key actions that U.S. policymakers and the United Nations must take before the conflict starts in order to maximize potential for success in the post-conflict phase in Iraq. These recommendations draw on ongoing work by the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, a collaborative effort between the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Association of the U.S. Army, and reflect lessons learned through first-hand experience with postconflict reconstruction efforts over the past decade.