The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 5A
MOVING FORWARD IN
George Bush's brand of freedom Iraq's future: the coming challenges
BY JEFF SEGAL
Exactly 365 days ago, at 5:30 a.m.
Baghdad time, President Bush made the
most important decision of his presidency
by lighting up the skies of Iraq with a daz-
zling array of American-inspired fire-
works. Perhaps, as on America's
celebratory July 4, Bush was signaling to
the Iraqi people that they were finally free.
If only this were truly the case.
In a little more than three months
from now - and more than a year after
Bush declared "major combat opera-
tions in Iraq have ended" - the U.S.
will transfer control of Iraq to an inter-
im Iraqi government. While the need for
self-governance and the importance of
safeguarding our troops are undoubtedly
vital, this attempt to save political face
by Bush is an encroachment upon all of
the goals we supposedly brought with us
to Iraq. By leaving the country in worse
shape than we found it a year ago, we
have not only destabilized an entire
region but we have also created an out-
pouring of global anti-American senti-
ment in the process. The only way to
correctly fix this problem is by increas-
ing our involvement in Iraq. Simply
because the president is basing his deci-
sions on a calendar ending Nov. 2 does
not mean the rest of the country - and
world - must follow suit. We broke
Iraq; now we need to fix it.
When Bush launched this war against
Saddam Hussein, he outlined a distinct set
of tenets upon which the war was based.
So far, every single one of them has been
wrong. Bush initially described the war as
an operation to "disarm Iraq and to free its
people." Well, according to the reports by
David Kay, no disarming of Iraq was ever
needed. Instead, it is highly likely that by
creating an influx of terrorist organizations
into the country we have, in a sense, armed
Iraq. As for freeing the Iraqi people, that
depends on your definition of freedom. If
the definition of freedom includes freedom
from fear, and in my book it most definite-
ly does, then we have not freed a single
Iraqi. The constant bloodletting occurring
almost daily in Iraq, as well as the amount
of hostile discord between opposing
groups within the country, is a certain tes-
tament to this.
This leaves us with the final grounds
for supporting the war: morality and the
spread of democracy. As noble as these
two aims are, our actions in the past four
months have completely negated any
argument for these intentions on the
grounds of hypocrisy. On Nov. 15, when
the Coalition Provisional Authority in
Baghdad announced that instead of
attempting to create democracy in the
classic sense, it would be handing sover-
eignty over to an interim Iraqi govern-
ment by June 30, the last legs of support
for the war fell off We provided the ulti-
mate reproach to morality by leaving Iraq
as an anarchistic battlefield. In addition,
by delegating the power over this battle-
field to a government that does not ade-
quately represent the people of Iraq, we
have failed in creating any true sense of
democracy. It is quite easy to come to the
conclusion that the war in Iraq had no
purpose. Even conspiracy theory reason-
ing has faltered, as showcased by the fact
that this week gas prices around the Unit-
ed States reached an all-time high. Bush's
war in Iraq has been a complete failure.
Looking forward to the year to come,
we must recognize today's world is no
safer than it was before we forced Saddam
Hussein to become intimate with a hole.
The recent bombings in Spain are an
absolute testament to this. In order for a
recovery to occur, we must make con-
fronting this lack of safety our priority. The
United Nations must join with the United
States in creating a true global coalition in
BY SUHAEL MOMIN
Flashback to Spring 2003: Riding on a Republi-
can sweep during the 2002 midterm elections, Pres-
ident Bush embarks on his unilateral war against
Saddam Hussein ' Iraq. With high approval ratings
and broad public support for the war; Bush boasts
of freeing the Iraqi people, and optimistic military
commanders predict that weapons of mass destruc-
tion will be found within weeks. The elite Republi-
can Guard fails to show up for battle. Democrats,
who have yet to find spines, meekly congratulate
the president and applaud the military. "Shock and
Awe, " the new Rumsfeld military doctrine, seems
vindicated and the war appears to be a great suc-
cess for the Bush administration.
Saddam to al Qaida, Bush's pre-war arrogance
would have been justified. Unfortunately, this has
not happened. Before the war, Bush blew away
criticism. His deputies marginalized major inter-
national actors such as France and Germany by
calling them "old Europe" Domestically, his team
engaged in character assassination, insinuating
that long-time civil servants were "unpatriotic" for
opposing the war. By apologizing for this arro-
gance, Bush can begin healing the rifts he created
between the pro- and anti-war camps.
If Bush apologizes and admits fallibility, he can
then return to the United Nations to elicit its coop-
eration. Instead of forcing an American plan upon
the Security Council, Bush's team could engage in
true diplomacy, creating a bilateral solution involv-
ing the United States and the United Nations. While
many would argue that the United States should
transfer complete authority, even on military and
security issues, to the United Nations, this move
would seriously endanger the future of Iraq. When
bringing the United Nations on board, leaders could
create a unique power-sharing structure, through
which the U.S. military handles security and
wartime operations, while the United Nations can
administrate political duties.
A major concern for the American people is
U.S. military casualties, and the split-control solu-
tion would do little to address this. Handing com-
plete control over to the United Nations would solve
this problem, but would leave military and security
operations in the hands of a far less competent
body. As it stands, the United States is the only
nation that has the money and manpower to engage
in such a massive force deployment; more than
100,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in Iraq.
Even if the United Nations took over security oper-
ations, the peacekeepers would predominantly be
American - no other nations can provide the
required number of troops. If American soldiers
will continue to fight in Iraq, it is best to leave them
under American command.
When it comes to the political and recon-
struction aspects of Iraq, however, the United
Nations should take over as soon as possible.
When it comes to constructing infrastructure,
the United Nations has a great deal of peace-
time experience. In the political arena, the
United Nations has the power to appear neu-
tral. It can provide a degree of legitimacy that
the United States, by virtue of being a self-
interested state, cannot. Furthermore, if the
United States can forget about the political
reconstruction of Iraq, it can focus its money
and forces on rooting out the insurgents who
are threatening to topple Iraqi stability.
With the upcoming U.S. presidential election,
electoral politics threaten to mold any plans for
Iraqi reconstruction. The American public, spoiled
by years of quasi-bloodless military engagements,
is unwilling to accept military casualties. As a
result, both John Kerry and George Bush are being
pressured to promulgate exit strategies. As we move
into the second year of this Gulf War, we must resist
these pressures. American politics should not con-
demn another nation to an uncertain future.
In the long run, whether or not the war in
Iraq was just will become a question for histori-
ans and academics. At the present, we are faced
with an uncontested reality: The war was started,
now it must be resolved. The war in Iraq, despite
its controversial inception, is now an opportunity
to spread the American values of democracy and
liberty throughout the world.
Iraqi citizens watch as a statue of Saddam Hussein topples to the ground in downtown Baghdad,
April 9, 2003.
Iraq, not just a group of countries on White
House puppet strings. Successful postwar
democracies have been created by the
United States in Germany and Japan and
the same can be done in Iraq - it just
takes time. Millions of Americans will
understandably be angered by the great
cost this reparation will bring. Sadly, we
must grin and bear it - this is the legacy
that Bush has left us.
If the decision to transfer power to the
interim government is not reversed, there
will be devastating results. Although there
is little that can be done to fix the damage
done to Iraq by this misguided war, a
great amount of good can be done now.
Chances are, however, this will not occur.
In the end, Bush will weigh his political
future over the lives of countless Iraqi's.
People of Iraq, remember to celebrate
on March 20. It is your day of freedom.
Segal is a LSA freshman and a member of
the Daily's editorial board.
The days of spring 2003 seem far behind us.
Saddam has been found, but his weapons have
not. Major combat operations have been
declared over, but fairly significant skirmishes
continue to claim the lives of American soldiers;
more than 550 have died. Controversy rages over
the justification for war; Democrats, who have
found spines, are hammering Bush for overstat-
ing pre-war intelligence. In a major step toward
Iraqi autonomy, the American interim authority
prepares to transfer power on June 30 to the 25-
member Iraqi Governing Council, but much
remains to be done. With mounting casualties,
little apparent success and declining public sup-
port, America is in danger of losing resolve.
On this one-year anniversary of the war, our
resolve must not waver. America should be look-
ing to the future, finding ways to tackle the
problems we now face.
Before the administration can make progress,
it needs to apologize - not only to the American
people, but also to the international community. If
weapons of mass destruction had been found in
Iraq, or concrete evidence had emerged linking
.. wPl . - & F-,
Testifying at a meeting with the
Senate Armed Services Com-
mittee, David Kay says there
are no weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq.
. MARCH 8
The Iraqi Governing Council signs
an interim constitution. A bill of
rights is included with the consti-
tution, which also establishes a
system of checks and balances
similar to the United States.
-Compiled by Associate Editorial
Page Editor Jen Misthal.
Momin is a LSA sophomore and an
associate editorialpage editor
"It turns out, we were all wrong,
probably, in my judgement."
- David Kay, former U.S. weapons
inspector, speaking to the Senate Armed
Services Committee, on Jan 28.