Rumsfeld: Plan to Win the Peace in Iraq Will Succeed
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 25, 2003 The plan to win the peace in Iraq will succeed, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote in a Washington Post column today.
"Today in Iraq we are operating on the same guiding principle that has brought success to our effort in Afghanistan: Iraq and Afghanistan belong to the Iraqi and Afghan peoples -- the United States does not aspire to own or run those countries," Rumsfeld said in his column.
The United States is not in Iraq to engage in nation building, stated the secretary. "Our mission is to help Iraqis so that they can build their own nation. Our objective is not to create dependency but to encourage Iraqi independence, by giving Iraqis increasing responsibility, over time, for the security and governance of their country. The sooner Iraqis can take responsibility for their own affairs the sooner U.S. forces can come home."
To this end, the Coalition Provisional Authority has been recruiting Iraqis -- some 56,000 -- to help defend Iraq, noted the secretary. Municipal councils have been formed in 90 percent of the country. The Iraqi Governing Council is taking charge of developing the 2004 budget and creating a process for the drafting of a new constitution, written by Iraqis so that the Iraqi people eventually can choose their leaders in free elections and an orderly transfer of full sovereignty can be achieved, he added.
The Saddam Hussein regime is gone and Iraqis are "stepping forward to take responsibility for their country," wrote Rumsfeld. "They are serving local, regional and national governing institutions, signing up to serve as police, border guards, soldiers and civil defense forces, starting businesses, creating jobs and building a new nation."
Rumsfeld noted the challenges in Iraq. "Terrorists and regime remnants want to roll back our successes and stop the Iraqi people's transition to democracy and self-government. We can expect they will continue to attack our successes, and the brave Iraqis who work with us, for some time."
Although work in Iraq is "difficult, costly and dangerous," the secretary stressed that it is worth the risks and costs.
"If the coalition succeeds, Iraqis will take hold of their country, develop the institutions of self-government and reclaim their nation's place as a responsible member of the international community. If we succeed, we will deal terrorism a powerful blow, because a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a defeat for the ideology of terror that is seeking to take control of that area of the world."
To succeed will take patience, added Rumsfeld. "But if we are steadfast, Iraq can become a model for a successful transition from tyranny to democracy and self-reliance, and a friend and ally of the United States and the world's free and peace-loving nations."