The Wolfowitz Plan

As we watch the Arab Spring unfold and rejoice in the expressions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on Zephyr's breath, it can sometimes be difficult to remember how much work yet needs to be done. For Spring means not only a lengthening of days, but the assiduous labor of sowing seeds for Autumn's harvest.

With this in mind, the incomparable Arthur Chrenkoff reminds us of the work that needs to be done, and even enumerates them as part of a "Wolfwitz Plan":

Overthrowing a government is easy - it merely requires a relatively short burst of manic energy. The much harder part is building on the victory and ensuring that all that effort by the "people power" doesn't go to waste - it's a tough and gruelling and unenviable job.


These are the priorities:

  • Targeted humanitarian aid where particularly needed - it's a good thing to do and a smart one, too, as it creates a lot of grass-roots good will.
  • Build and strengthen democratic institutions, civil society groups and the free media; support decent education, offer scholarships and exchanges.
  • Work on the institutional framework - new laws and regulations, ensuring transparency, fighting graft and corruption.
  • Provide expertise to reform the economy - the "shock therapy" is painful, but the continuing stagnation in its absence even more so.
  • Assist the newly liberated to make the best of what they already have - help them utilize their current resources that in so many cases went wasted under the previous (mis)management, sign free trade agreements, promote regional cooperation, where possible put US military installations on the ground - it helps the local economy and it shows that the US is serious about sticking around for the long haul.
  • Just as importantly, help our civil society help their civil societies; there are a lot of non-government organizations and community groups around which can do a lot to help, so facilitate that grass-roots-to-grass-roots effort through information-sharing, coordination, and low-level logistical assistance.

You can still expect a great deal of pain, some unavoidable ingratitude and many, many setbacks. As I said, it's not easy - the much under-estimated Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder will be the greatest enemy - but we have little choice. Doing nothing and hoping for the best is no longer a viable foreign policy option.

Thus, enjoy the liberating feeling, but don't forget that the work must go on. After all, you remember what happened to the grasshopper!

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

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