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March 20, 2003

Jim Henley has an unlikely and yet brilliant suggestion about who should serve as temporary administrator of postwar Iraq:
Ari Fleischer or whoever began the White House press conference by talking about the ever-growing Coalition of the Willing to do Everything but Say Who They Are. But some of them do say who they are, and Fleischer made much of “countries that have themselves only recently escaped tyranny” who have signed on.

And there’s your transitional administration: the best liberal politicians and government officials from Eastern Europe. They understand, in the transition from tyranny to freedom, what has to be tossed out, who has to be held to account and when, instead, mercy must do the work of justice. They’ve lived it. They understand ethnic strife and where, unmanaged, it can lead. One country has even provided the rare example of constituent parts divorcing peacefully.

Which leads to the specific answer: some one foreigner has to be in charge of all this for a time. It would be a fine thing if it were not an American military officer for political reasons. It should be someone friendly to the United States, fierce in devotion to freedom and individual rights, renowned for conscience and, not incidentally, currently underemployed.

Ladies and gentlemen, the sane, logical and inspired choice:

Vaclav Havel. Pass it on.

This is such a good idea. It’d never happen. But Oh God. [11:37 PM]
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Comments on Jim Henley:

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2003, 01:19 AM:

An interesting idea, but would even an especially cosmopolitan European command the authority necessary to effectively wrangle all those factions?

Also, Havel is not a well man; he worked himself sick and back several times during his term.

Alex Steffen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2003, 01:58 AM:

It's a brilliant idea. It should be spread far and wide, if only as a model for the kind of person we want in that job.

Henley couldn't be more wrong about the UN though.

We must put the UN back in charge. We'll enforce the peace. But the UN should set up the administration of occupied Iraq and manage the reconstruction.

The main advantage here, beyond the moral one of it being IMO the right thing to do, is that it might actually restore some global confidence in the US. The past several month have seen the Administration turn us into a planetary pariah state. Handing over all civilian decision-making to the UN would restore some of the world's faith in us and lend credibility to the argument that we attacked Iraq because it violated UN resolutions.

Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2003, 07:07 AM:

Hernando de Soto would be a good candidate too.

Michael Davies ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2003, 09:45 AM:

Well, not Havel exactly. Havel was a really popular leader of a freedom movement and a figurehead/international ambassador once he was actually elected - a president, not a prime minister, just like . People in a Middle Eastern country would have to be introduced to why he was popular and why he, not someone who knows a lot about building a state, has been put in charge.

How about this guy?
He's from the less nationalistic wing of the pro-privatization liberal party; he's the only Communist holdover still to have power in Lithuanian politics; he's a practical but not totally cynical politician. He's been the chairman of the parliament; President; and is now starting his first term as Prime Minister.

And Lithuanians are very pro-American by European standards.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2003, 09:51 AM:

There's always G.B. Trudeau's alternative, Maximum Proconsul Duke.

I like the Havel idea. Sure, the occupation needs competent administrators, but it also needs a figurehead. And unlike Mr. Brazauskas, who's probably more interested in running Lithuania than Iraq, Mr. Havel is currently out of a job.

markp ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2003, 04:13 PM:

I like the Havel idea too, at least in the abstract, but... what's wrong with Kanan Makiya?