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Old 05-25-2003, 06:37 AM   #1
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A Victory at Risk

A Victory at Risk

By Richard G. Lugar
Thursday, May 22, 2003; Page A35

The combat phase of our war in Iraq ended with a speedy, decisive victory and minimal loss of life. That impressive success is now at risk. Our troops and administrators are coping with ethnic and religious rivalries, a long-repressed people, a war-damaged infrastructure already decayed from years of neglect and corruption, a lack of Iraqi democratic experience and a host of extreme clerics, looters, gangsters and warlords-in-waiting, all moving into a power vacuum.

The resolve of President Bush, the war plan of his team and the skill of our coalition military forces have delivered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the political landscape of the Middle East. Iraq has the ingredients to become a modern state: an educated population, a functional bureaucracy, a tradition of trade and industry and large reserves of oil to benefit its people. An Iraq transformed from tyranny to democracy can be a springboard to promote democratic reforms throughout the region and to end the pattern of autocracy and oppression that characterizes so many Arab governments. By demonstrating that we waged the war in the name of freedom, and not for conquest or for oil, we will strike a blow against the pervasive anti-Americanism that fuels Islamic terrorism.

But transforming Iraq will not be easy, quick or cheap. Clearly, the administration's planning for the post-conflict phase in Iraq was inadequate. I am concerned that the Bush administration and Congress have not yet faced up to the true size of the task that lies ahead, or prepared the American people for it. The administration should state clearly that we are engaged in "nation-building." We are constructing the future in Iraq. It's a complicated and uncertain business, and it's not made any easier when some in the Pentagon talk about quick exit strategies or say dismissively that they don't do nation-building. The days when Americans could win battles and then come home quickly for a parade are over.

The public and Congress need to know what we're getting into. Starting today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings to give the administration a chance to share its plans with the American people and to begin a debate on the important issues for Iraq's future. I want to see evidence that the administration is in this for the long haul to create a stable, democratic Iraq, and to acknowledge that this will place a significant burden on the American people. Congress has already voted $2.5 billion toward the rebuilding effort. We've heard estimates that the final bill may be $100 billion. I believe the process may take at least five years.

The first question we must explore is: Do we have enough troops in Iraq? It may be that to restore law and order right now, we need to put more soldiers and Marines back into the country, rather than drawing them down. In the medium term and longer, we have to look at the force structure: Does the Pentagon have the right kind of units for an interim stabilization force, and later for peacekeeping, policing and police training? If not, who will provide them? What types of contributions should we expect from our allies? Only when aid workers and other civilians are safe from robbers and carjackers can we get on with feeding the people, repairing the hospitals and restoring the water and sewage systems. The Iraqi people will respond positively if we can fix their basic infrastructure.

We also need to know the strategy for political transition. The original timetable of having an interim Iraqi government in place by early June seems unlikely. We must purge the bad elements of the Baath Party leadership and prevent extremist Shiites, many of them linked to Iran and determined to establish a theocracy, from taking power -- and we must do so without provoking an anti-American backlash. Some U.S. officials have talked of a two-year occupation, but they should note recent past experience. Seven years after the Dayton accords, for instance, 12,000 international peacekeepers are still in Bosnia.

It would be irresponsible -- and contrary to our own national security interests -- to walk away from Iraq before it becomes a dependable member of the world community. We would provide an incubator for terrorist cells and activity. The American people know this. A recent poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that an overwhelming 86 percent said the United States has "the responsibility to remain in Iraq as long as necessary until there is a stable government," and nearly as many, 73 percent, said that pulling out prematurely "would be unwise and immoral."

President Bush should make clear to one and all that he will declare "Mission accomplished" in Iraq not on the basis of our military victory or the date of our withdrawal but on what kind of country we leave behind.

The writer, a Republican senator from Indiana, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

2003 The Washington Post Company

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Old 05-25-2003, 06:42 AM   #2
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Bush's Failure in Iraq

Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-CT
The Boston Globe
May 19, 2003

IN IRAQ, shock and awe is giving way to stumble and fumble. Weeks after a brilliant military victory, the Bush administration is failing to secure the peace.

Law is still absent and disorder is widespread. High-level American officials are being replaced with frequency. The Bush administration is now seeking to gain complete coalition control over Iraqi oil during the transition. And many of the most sensitive facilities in Iraq - sites we believed to house weapons of mass destruction - were left unprotected and were looted after the fighting ended.

I raise these concerns as a strong supporter of the war, not as a lingering critic. The world is safer because America had the will and way to remove a repressive and homicidal tyrant from power.

But the ultimate measure of a war is the peace that follows. Last October and again this February, before the war in Iraq began, I urged the Bush administration to heed the lessons of Kabul. After seeing how the administration allowed post-Taliban Afghanistan to regress into violence and instability, I warned that without a strong reconstruction strategy, postwar Iraq could degenerate into chaos. I offered detailed proposals on how to secure the peace after Saddam's ouster, and urged President Bush to come forward with a plan of his own.

But the president stayed largely silent, and today, his administration seems to have been unprepared for the quick victory it predicted.

First, the administration has failed to secure known sites of weapons of mass destruction. According to credible reports, military units assigned to finding chemical and biological weapons were not properly equipped to inspect sites or file encrypted reports from the field. Some of those originally put on the job were moved to other duties before they had a chance to do their work.

For days after the fighting, the most sensitive possible weapons sites were left completely unsecured. As a result, they were looted, ransacked, and burned. Documentation, computers, and even toxic materials may have been lost for good, possibly ending up in the hands of rogue regimes or terrorists.

Before the war began, I urged the president to form task forces to swiftly locate and secure all suspect sites the moment the shooting stopped. To those of us who supported Saddam's removal, this was a critical priority. Yet it was not done - and the failure to do so might someday be measured in American lives.

Second, the administration has mishandled the management of the Iraqi oil industry.

Before the war began, I urged the administration to guarantee that all financial benefit from Iraqi oil be invested directly in the country's reconstruction. I said the Iraqi oil industry should be managed by the capable Iraqi professionals who had been managing it. And I called for the creation of an Interim International Oil Oversight Board, made up of Iraqis and international members, to oversee that management, audit all oil agreements, and ensure full public disclosure of oil revenue.

In February, President Bush seemed to agree. He said, ''We will... ensure those [oil] resources are used for the benefit of the owners - the Iraqi people.''

But it was recently reported that the administration's proposed Security Council resolution would give the United States and our coalition partners control over the Iraqi oil industry and oil revenues during the transition to self-government, a period that may well last a number of years. The administration has apparently decided to establish an international audit board like the one I recommended - but without any real authority. Instead, authority over Iraqi oil rests with the United States.

There is no better way to deepen the world's suspicions about American motives in Iraq - and no worse way to gain the confidence of the Iraqi people. President Bush must immediately hand control of the oil back to the Iraqi people.

This underlines why we should be moving to put in place an international administrator - preferably a high-ranking official from an Arab nation - rather than a long string of American officials. The world needs to be shown, not only told, that this is not an occupation.

The liberation of Iraq was noble and necessary. The men and women of our armed forces performed brilliantly. Their victory now gives us the opportunity to win a battle in the war on terrorism, which is not only a war to capture and kill Al Qaeda, but ultimately to win over the hearts and minds of the Islamic world to the cause of freedom. The Bush administration has a choice to make quickly: to help build on our victory over Saddam or to squander it.

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is a Democratic candidate for president.

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Old 05-25-2003, 10:54 AM   #3
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These Senators are both really smart guys and I think they are making good points. I don't necessarily agree with everything they say but it's good food for thought.
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Old 05-27-2003, 12:33 AM   #4
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i di not wat to start a new thread


Why They Don't Want Democracy

By Milton Viorst
Milton Viorst is the author of "In the Shadow of the Prophet: The Struggle for the Soul of Islam." His most recent book is "What Shall I Do With This People? Jews and the Fractious Politics of Judaism

May 25, 2003

WASHINGTON Iraq's Shiites, 60% of the population, most of them fervently religious, have stunned U.S. officials who gave us the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Not only do they reject our occupation, but they also dismiss the Western-style democracy that we were assured they would welcome.

It took hardly more than recent full-color pictures in newspapers and on television of Shiite men flagellating themselves until blood streamed from their flesh to make the case that we are dealing with people we don't know. Ironically, Hussein's regime had barred self-flagellation as barbaric. For believers, his fall did not mean freedom to adopt a constitution and elect a parliament; it meant freedom to suffer the stings of whips for a martyr who died 13 centuries ago and to demand an Islamic state.

When communism died at the end of the 1980s, Vaclav Havel, the poet who became president of Czechoslovakia, declared that "democratic values slumbered in the subconscious of our nations." His words suggest that these nations waited only for the sunshine of spring to awake to the democracy that had lain dormant within them. Indeed, societies liberated from communism, including Russia, navigated the currents of Western values to adopt democratic systems, though they sometimes perilously scraped the rocks. So did the European countries delivered from fascism after World War II Italy and Germany, then Spain and Portugal.

But democratic values do not slumber in the subconscious of the Islamic world. Free elections threaten to bring religious extremists to power in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and even Turkey, which has been working at democracy for nearly a century. Were free elections held in Saudi Arabia, fanatics would surely triumph. In 1992, elections brought Algeria to the edge of Islamic rule, triggering a civil war that still rages. Given the substantial divisions in Iraq's population, and the power of religion within its Shiite majority, free elections there would probably produce the same outcome.

Years ago, I asked an elderly philosopher in Damascus, Syria, to explain the difficulty the Arabs have in mastering democracy, and he answered, ruefully: "The Islamic world never had a Renaissance." What he meant, I later understood, was that the steps toward secularism that Western society first took in mid-millennium are yet to be taken or, at best, have been taken only hesitantly within Islam.

The seminal notion that the Renaissance introduced to the West was that mankind, not God, is at the hub of the social universe. It held reason as important as faith, and urged men and women to claim responsibility, free of clergy, for their own lives.

Under the influence of texts from ancient Greece, Muslims in their Golden Age considered and rejected these ideas before passing the texts on to Europe. After triggering the Renaissance, the ideas led, over quarrelsome centuries, to the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. While Islam remained wedded to desert tradition, Europe created a civilization imbued with a sense of individual identity, in which men and women asserted rights apart from those of the community. These ideas, for better or worse, became the foundation of the secular culture that characterizes Western civilization today.

Religion by no means disappeared. Instead, it was redefined as a personal bond, a relationship of choice, between the individual and God. The redefinition made Westerners comfortable separating worship from the state. True, segments of the Catholic Church, Orthodox Jewry and evangelical Protestantism still question this arrangement. But the secular idea constitutes the foundation of mainstream Western values. Without it, democracy and the civil society that, along with the press, supports it would be impossible.

This process has largely bypassed Islamic society. Muslims like to say that "Islam isn't just a religion; it's a way of life." What they mean is that there is no barrier between faith and the everyday world, between what is sacred and what is profane. It is not so much that Muslims are more pious than Westerners. It is that the imperatives of the culture impose limits on diversity of outlook, whether religious or social. These imperatives suppress the demand for personal identity, leaving believers with little tolerance for the free and open debate necessarily at democracy's core.

Ironically, Hussein's Baath regime once promised to introduce Iraq to secularism. It went further than any other Arab state in emancipating women, curbing clerical power, promoting literature and arts and advancing universal literacy within a framework of modern education. Its tragedy is that these seeds of democracy were subsumed under the world's most brutal tyranny, crushing their human potential. After 1,400 years of Islamic conservatism and 25 of Hussein, there is little likelihood that a disposition to democracy slumbers in Iraq's psyche.

From President Bush on down, officials who are presiding over the rebuilding of Iraq would be wise to remember that the values at our system's heart have been a thousand years in the making. No doubt Iraq's Shiite majority is happy at Hussein's downfall, but American lectures on the virtues of replacing him with democratic rule fall on uncomprehending ears. So much must first be done to lay a groundwork of individual freedom and responsibility, values that Iraqis must willingly embrace. At the moment, the majority is more comfortable with the familiar idea of Islamic government. Would that it were otherwise, but the administration's vision of a Middle East reshaped by Western democracy, starting with Iraq, is naive and, moreover, delusive.
i think this guy pretty much is spot on.
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Old 05-27-2003, 11:30 AM   #5
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I really like that article, too, Deep. That's right, our democracy is really deep-rooted stuff. We just can't go to Iraq or Iran and pretend like that's the West, because it isn't. Their cultural leaders are Islamic clerics. They don't have our concept of the separation of church and state, which came after centuries of struggle in Europe. Even Turkey didn't really separate state and mosque. They rejected the Islamic state in favor of a secular state. Today the Turks have rejected some of the secularism of their past. Even though not everyone in the Moslem countries is in favor of an Islamic state, enough of the people are to establish these states in these countries. It's what they're most comfortable with.
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Old 05-27-2003, 12:11 PM   #6
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Originally posted by verte76
ITheir cultural leaders are Islamic clerics. They don't have our concept of the separation of church and state, which came after centuries of struggle in Europe.
Islam is a theocracy. It's different from Christianity, historically, because the early Christians were not concerned particularly with overthrowing the Romans (unlike the Jews, who revolted many times) because they were more concerned with the idea that the kingdom of God is at hand and that Jesus will return like a thief in the night.

Islam unified Arab tribes, Muhammad was a prophet but also a warrior, and Islam thrived as a theocracy, permeating the social fabric. This is why the idea of western democracy may be unworkable in the middle east.
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Old 05-27-2003, 08:34 PM   #7
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Historically, Islam does have some ideas about social structure and such that are antagonistic to ideas of Western democracy. But that doesn't mean that Moslems can't believe in democracy. There's a guy named Tahar ben Jelloun, from France (but I believe originally Iraq) who wrote a book called "Islam Explained". Some of his ideas are traditional but some are quite modern. They include a belief in a democratic political process.

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