Jay Garner's Missing Link

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Much
is made of retired Army Lieutenant General Jay Garner's suitability
for the job as U.S. viceroy of Iraq. Garner's linkages to pro-Likud
party think-tanks and military contractors are sure to raise the
eyebrows of news junkies and the ire of the Arab world, if he lasts
long enough in the role.

But
a key Garner selling point has been his past success in northern
Iraq in 1991, helping the Kurds. Nicholas Kristof in the New
York Times wrote
recently
that "General Garner proved himself a logistical
miracle worker when he was dispatched to help the Kurds in northern
Iraq in 1991. He can provide security and get the water flowing
more quickly than the United Nations could, and that trumps all
else for the short term."

The
phrase "miracle worker" might apply. Just not to General
Garner.

The
key to Garner's success in 1991 in northern Iraq was a very special
guy in humanitarian relief and disaster response circles. He was
a self-made Texan businessman who had some good old-fashioned free
market and anti-bureaucratic ideas about how to help people help
themselves. His name was Fred Cuny.

Fred
Cuny was infamous in global relief and aid circles for several reasons.
He sometimes accused the big aid organizations of having their own
non-humanitarian agendas, working for the cameras and not the people
in need, and misunderstanding and devaluing the role of human commerce
and trade in recovery from crisis. Cuny noted "… in many situations
understanding and manipulating market forces can be far more important
and effective than classic relief operations."

Back
in 1991, the State Department, in its traditional role of conducting
security and foreign assistance, asked Fred and his company, Intertect,
to come and help the Kurdish relief operation.

There
he worked with Jay Garner. To his credit, Garner seems to have let
Fred manage the operation Fred's way, providing the military security
and resources left over from southern Iraq, that in turn fueled
Fred's pro-market and get-back-on-your-feet approach to humanitarian
operations.

You
can learn more about Fred
Cuny
at the PBS Frontline site or read
the book
The
Man Who Tried to Save the World
. His Intertect Institute,
founded in 1987, has transformed into The
Cuny Center
, and continues his legacy.

Fred
Cuny was killed in Chechnya in 1995. He disappeared in April, eight
years ago.

From
the image of Fred Cuny, try to swing your mind around to our strutting
emperor-in-training at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to his proud martinets
across the river, to the less public network of U.S. and Israeli
political contributors and think-tanks, to the team of viceroys
and governors and American administrators selected in Washington
to lead Iraq. Something substantial is missing in this crowd, their
competence oh-so-brightly portrayed but frighteningly superficial.
There is something hollow about what they bring to the table.

They
say Fred Cuny sounded like he was boasting when he talked about
what he could do, what he had done. But the strange thing was, even
his critics admitted he wasn't lying. He wasn't even exaggerating.

Fred
Cuny was the shine on Garner's stars back in 1991 in northern Iraq.

Cuny's
radical expectations, his single-minded commitment to the mission,
and his respect for the marketplace were a key part of Jay Garner's
success in northern Iraq. In turn, Jay Garner's success in northern
Iraq is a key part of why Garner is set to be our next Mesopotamian
Viceroy.

Only
this time, he doesn't have Fred Cuny.

We
can find plenty of passion, single-mindedness, and intolerance among
the braying neo-conservatives, whether among the chatty Hannity,
Rush and Boortz crowd, or the more furtive smoking club of Wolfowitz,
Cheney, and Perle.

Fred's
passion was to eliminate human suffering, his focus was on individual
empowerment, he wasn't concerned with lining his own pockets, and
he had no tolerance for either groupthink or false sincerity. These
are commodities that you or I or Jay Garner won't find easily in
Washington today.

But
in honor of Fred Cuny's life and spirit, we ought to seek them anyway
and accept no substitutes. Especially in April.

April
14, 2003

Karen
Kwiatkowski [send her mail]
is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final
four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now
lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.


     

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