President's Ambassador Nominee Charts Way Forward in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2005 President Bush's choice to be the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq urged all Iraqis to seize the opportunity offered to them to build a free, democratic country.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad testified June 7 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been serving as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
"In my view, Iraq must succeed," Khalilzad told the senators. "I am mindful of and inspired by the tremendous sacrifices being made by American and coalition servicemen and women, diplomats, civilians and their families in the effort to build a free Iraq. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress to advance American goals in consolidating a free, secure and prosperous Iraq."
The ambassador said that if confirmed he has seven main objectives in Iraq. He said the seven mutually reinforcing "fronts" could "break the back" of the insurgency in the country.
Khalilzad said first, he will reach out to all Iraqis to help them develop "a common and unifying vision, a national compact for their nation's political future." This should be part of the new Iraqi constitution being crafted now in Baghdad. He said protecting the rights of all will take out of the fight groups now supporting the insurgency out of fear.
"Second, I will work with Iraqis to break the back of the insurgency," he said, adding he'll work with U.S. military and intelligence services "to ensure that we have a good understanding of the enemy, their weaknesses and their strengths."
He said he will champion an integrated strategy that "strikes the proper balance among the use of all our instruments of policy and is tailored to the circumstances." He will continue the present effort to increase the number and enhance the capabilities of Iraqi forces and security institutions, he said.
His third front will help create a more favorable regional environment to stabilize and rebuild Iraq. "Some neighbors are playing helpful roles, while others are being unhelpful," Khalilzad said. "We will take steps to neutralize unhelpful activities by some of Iraq's neighbors whose territory is being used by the enemies of Iraq, or who are seeking to dominate parts of Iraq or its key institutions." The United States also will encourage allies in the region to play a more active and positive roles in the country, the nominee said.
Khalilzad said his fourth effort will be aimed at strengthening institutions of governance and justice in Iraq, while his fifth effort would accelerate reconstruction projects and integrate them into the overall strategy for Iraq.
"Going forward, Americans and others should adjust our assistance program to give greater ownership and responsibility to the Iraqi government and people," he said.
His sixth effort will focus on "public diplomacy." He said he'll explain U.S. goals and policies to the Iraqi people "to strengthen their confidence in the United States."
"I will tell the story of American success in building its political and economic systems on universal ideals of freedom, democracy, rule of law, economic liberty and self-reliance of its citizens," he continued. "Iraqis can draw on their own traditions as well as the experience of others to achieve greatness again. I will also explain that the path of extremism and terror leads to a dead end."
Finally, Khalilzad said, he will work with Iraqis to set the conditions for successful elections under the new constitution. Elections to approve the constitution are set no later than Oct. 15, with elections for the permanent government set no later than Dec. 15.
Khalilzad is under no illusions about the job. "Iraq faces great challenges. The country is at a crossroads," he said. "Foreign terrorists and hard-line Baathists want Iraq to descend into a civil war that would draw in the regional powers. Foreign terrorists are using the Iraqi people as cannon fodder in pursuit of their own unholy agenda of promoting civil war in Iraq, dominating the Islamic world and triggering a conflict of civilization ... globally.
"They do not care about Iraq or the Iraqi people," he continued. "Hard-line Baathists want to foster an all-out civil war in the hope of either restoring dictatorship and their control of Iraq, or of taking the country down with them."
But the Iraqi people, he said, want to build a successful nation.
"Like people everywhere, they want a country in which they and their families can live normal lives in peace and prosperity," he said. "We are witnessing daily the suffering of the Iraqi people, and Americans are horrified at the attacks inflicted by the unscrupulous terrorists upon ordinary people - civilians, doctors, teachers, schools, clinics, foreign workers and newly trained police who are trying to help the people of Iraq."