Victory in Iraq

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 27, 2004

Regardless of one’s opinion on the reasons the United States went to war in Iraq, one thing is clear as the United States plans to hand over sovereignty this week to the Iraqi people: Democracy is not going to flower in Iraq.

There’s been a lot of commentary lately about the collapse of the reasons why we were told we needed to go to war – that Saddam harbored weapons of mass destruction (he did not); that Saddam was an imminent threat to our national security (he was not); and that Saddam was linked to 9-11 (he was not).

After that, the administration settled on the reasoning that Saddam was a bad guy and we needed to liberate the Iraqi people.

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He’s gone. The people are liberated.

Now the United States needs to devote 100 percent of its energies to creating an exit strategy, one that safeguards U.S. soldiers and leaves Iraq with some semblance of security.

Be that as it may, it’s time to face facts. Iraq is not in what one would describe as a secure area of the world. In fact, insecurity – if not chaos – is the norm. No influx of U.S., NATO or U.N. troops is going to change that. Our vow to the Iraqis is that we would rid them of Saddam and set up free elections. The elections are set for January. It’s then that we need to start pulling out of Iraq.

In the meantime, we need to be assembling and training a security force made up of Iraqis. Six months should be enough time.

If the U.S. remains in Iraq beyond the time an elected government is in place, it will amount to little more than colonialism, something that the Iraqis, rightly, should not and will not tolerate.

Once free elections are held, the U.S. mission in Iraq will be complete and victorious. What happens after that is out of our control, whether we stay or leave.