A Jan. 27 article implied that Daniel Pipes had been confirmed by the Senate for membership on the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Pipes received a recess appointment, which did not require confirmation. His appointment term has since expired, and he is no longer on the board. (Published 2/2/05)
One month before U.S. forces invaded Iraq, the U.S. Institute of Peace circulated a 16-page report titled "After Saddam Hussein, Winning a Peace if It Comes to War."
The treatise, paid with tax dollars that fund the congressionally created institute, envisioned an array of possible pitfalls including an insurgency, the collapse of civil society and a surge in terrorism. The report also offered suggestions for avoiding those scenarios and urged the government to engage in postwar planning to quickly stabilize the country.
"Political fragmentation and social disintegration are likely. Combined with the brutal lethality of modern weapons, this may create one of the toughest political and humanitarian emergencies to date," wrote Ray Jennings, who ran the USIP's Iraq program.
"We were basically ignored," said J. Robinson West, the USIP's board chairman and an assistant secretary of the interior in the Reagan administration.
As congressional supporters watched some of the report's bleakest warnings come true, the institute -- a government think tank set up years ago as a counterweight to Pentagon planning -- gained a renewed importance. Last month, it was rewarded.
After an eight-year campaign, Congress handed the nonpartisan institute $100 million for a long-promised building on the last available site on the Mall.
More than a way out of the USIP's rented digs in the dreary National Restaurant Association Building, the new facility and grand location offer a greater chance to interact with the public.
"The building is a way to make what we do more visible," said Richard H. Solomon, a former U.S. ambassador and Asia specialist, who has been director of the USIP since 1993.
The $100 million for the building came through, to the surprise of the institute's senior management, after more than a decade of lobbying Congress. Solomon and others believe it resulted from a growing consensus in Congress that nonmilitary approaches need better attention before a conflict begins.
The building, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is a 120,000-square-foot, glass-and-beam structure crowned by the wings of a dove. It will rest on a 21/2-acre site at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street NW, overlooking the Lincoln Memorial and adjacent to the Korean War Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans memorials.
Construction is slated to begin in 2007, but Solomon said more money will need to be raised privately for the project. Separately, Congress gave the USIP a $10 million bonus, on top of its 2004 budget of $17 million, for new postwar programs in Iraq.
The institute has used the money to open up an operation in Baghdad, hire local staff and begin negotiations and conflict-management training for a new crop of Iraqi civil servants.
Several months ago, the USIP also received a congressional mandate to coordinate a Washington task force on restructuring the United Nations.
"Policymakers are turning to us more now than they did 18 months ago," West said in an interview about the impact of the Iraq war on the USIP's work.
Before Baghdad, the think tank was best known for its work in the Balkans during the 1990s for training peacekeepers. The institute was given $3 million from the State Department last year to facilitate peace talks between the government of the Philippines and Islamic insurgents there, and the USIP is starting to examine nonmilitary options for Iran.
At home, it sponsors a national essay contest on peace and offers training manuals for diplomats and a guide for teachers on discussing terrorism.
What it doesn't do with public funds is criticize this or any other U.S. administration.
"Nothing would happen if we took sides, except we'd be out of business," Solomon said. "We offer a neutral platform where different sides come together."
USIP staffers like to say the idea for the institute dates to the country's founding. But it was really created 20 years ago by Congress, under bipartisan sponsorship, to support the development and use of knowledge to promote peace and curb violent international conflict.
It has been home to visiting scholars, journalists, ambassadors and senior figures from across the political landscape in the United States and abroad.
Solomon reports to a 12-member bipartisan board of directors, which is appointed by the White House and confirmed by the Senate.
One appointment caused considerable stir in 2003 when President Bush chose Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes for the USIP board. Pipes has long warned about Islamic extremism, but his writing is controversial.
He has said Muslim government employees in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps "need to be watched for connections to terrorism." He also contends that "mosques require a scrutiny beyond that applied to churches and temples."
The appointment was opposed by some Senate Democrats and Arab American groups, but after a lengthy political battle Pipes was approved.
There also are no Muslim Americans on the board, though the USIP's work is expanding rapidly into the Islamic world, with Iraq taking up a significant portion of resources.
There have been additional Iraq reports since the war began, and not all suggestions have been necessarily the right ones.
One section in the February 2003 report urged the U.S. military to carry out a policy of "de-Baathification," which meant firing every senior Iraqi government employee with membership in Hussein's party.
That is the direction the Bush administration took. Many U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledge the move made postwar life far more difficult for Iraqis, since many senior officials running essential government services were no longer allowed to come to work.
But many of the institute's warnings remain a concern.
From the institute's pre-Iraq invasion report: "Ultimately, post-war chaos and long-term disorder in Iraq may prove more destructive to human life, regional stability, and national interest than any attempt to oust the Iraqi ruler."