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Iraq difficulties discussed
Distinguished Speaker served during transition
Iraq conflict consultant and transition coordinator Leslie “Cap” Dean addressed students, faculty, and community members in Fabiani Theatre Monday as the first guest in Trine University’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
Dr. David Finley, left, distinguished speaker Leslie “Cap” Dean, and Dr. John Shannon greet visitors during Dean’s Fabiani Theatre appearance.
His presentation, “Iraq: Untying the Gordian Knot,” detailed problems, mistakes, progress, prospects, and lessons learned in the Iraq conflict and described his two Iraq assignments, one in 2004 and one in 2007, when he worked for Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus. A question and answer session wrapped up the one-hour presentation.
The Gordian Knot theme referred to a legend dating back to the Middle East in the fourth century B.C. It compared Iraq to a complex and seemingly untractable problem, like the legend’s knot, which no one could untie.
Dean told of his involvement with Iraq’s problems for the past five years. He acted as de factor mayor of Baghdad and Governor of Baghdad Province in 2004, while organizing and supervising the election of Iraqis to replace him in the positions.
He became deputy coordinator for economic transition in Iraq, and then senior adviser for capacity development in 2007. His positions in Baghdad gave him a clear view of the situation in Iraq, which he discussed.
Sectarianism between rival groups, power struggles among factions, corruption, and lack of capacity, political will and leadership within its government were among the problems Dean pointed to on the Iraqi side.
A lack of military manpower, inadequate levels of security provided by Iraqi military and police, and the difficulty of restoring infrastructure and implementing reconstruction and development while at war have plagued the U.S. effort, he said.
Recent positive developments in the conflict include progress on reconstruction and development; new mixed civilian and military teams of people working on reconstruction, governance, elections, education, health, sanitation, and security; a growing economy; and relative peace in Kurdish-controlled northeast Iraq. Violence has declined sharply in most areas, he said, businesses are reopening, and Al Qaeda has lost many of its strongholds and leaders.
Untying Iraq’s Gordian Knot must be accomplished through political reconciliation and compromise, and he sees the beginning of those processes, he said.