Insecuring Iraq

Daniel L. Byman
Daniel L. Byman
Daniel L. Byman Director and Professor, Security Studies Program - Georgetown University, Nonresident Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy

June 1, 2004

Reproduced by permission of The National Interest, (No.76, Summer 2004).

When Saddam’s regime collapsed last year, security for Iraqis collapsed with it. Saddam’s brutal rule may have offered Iraqis few benefits— but crime was low and civil strife was largely contained.

>In the chaos after the collapse, violent crime soared. Foreign jihadists slipped unimpeded across unsecured borders and Iraqi insurgents began attacking not only coalition forces but ordinary Iraqis as well. One year after the liberation of Iraq, the situation remains abysmal. Iraqis still fear to walk the streets, and in April 2004, the simmering insurgency boiled over, producing the bloodiest month yet for coalition forces.

Security is essential for Iraq’s political and economic reconstruction. Without it, Iraqis may look to warlords or thugs who can offer security even at the price of good governance. Democracy cannot take root if voters are afraid to go to the polls or if citizens believe they cannot trust “strangers” from other tribes or communal groups to protect them. Compounding the problem, few investors want to risk their money in a country torn by violence. The “normalcy” most Iraqis long for is still lacking.