For those who did not have the opportunity to see President Bush's speech outlining the Iraq transition strategy, you can read it in its entirety here
The main portion of the speech was devoted to the plan to transition Iraq from occupation to an interim government to free elections next year.
There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom. We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government, help establish security, continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, encourage more international support, and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.
Many questions about Iraq, the transition and the War on Terror have been answered in this speech (all answers are direct quotes from tonight's speech).
Q. How will the interim government be chosen?
A. The United Nations Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is now consulting with a broad spectrum of Iraqis to determine the composition of this interim government. The special envoy intends to put forward the names of interim government officials this week. In addition to a president, two vice presidents, and a prime minister, 26 Iraqi ministers will oversee government departments, from health to justice to defense. This new government will be advised by a national council, which will be chosen in July by Iraqis representing their country's diversity. This interim government will exercise full sovereignty until national elections are held.
Q. After transition to the Iraqi government, will the US military remain in Iraq, what is its role, and who will command this force?
A. After June 30th, American and other forces will still have important duties. American military forces in Iraq will operate under American command as a part of a multinational force authorized by the United Nations. Iraq's new sovereign government will still face enormous security challenges, and our forces will be there to help.
Q. What about America's position on Abu Ghraib?
A. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning.
Q. What effort is being made to internationalize Iraq?
A. Today, the United States and Great Britain presented a new resolution in the Security Council to help move Iraq toward self-government. I've directed Secretary Powell to work with fellow members of the Council to endorse the timetable the Iraqis have adopted, to express international support for Iraq's interim government, to reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people, and to encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort. Despite past disagreements, most nations have indicated strong support for the success of a free Iraq.
Q. What can we expect in the near future?
A. Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal. There are difficult days ahead, and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic.
Q. Why should we remain in Iraq? What is the significance of Iraq in the War on Terror?
A. The return of tyranny to Iraq would be an unprecedented terrorist victory, and a cause for killers to rejoice. It would also embolden the terrorists, leading to more bombings, more beheadings, and more murders of the innocent around the world. The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology, and give momentum to reformers across the region. This will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power, and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world.
Q. Who exactly is our enemy in the War on Terror?
A. Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. They seek to impose Taliban-like rule, country by country, across the greater Middle East. They seek the total control of every person, and mind, and soul, a harsh society in which women are voiceless and brutalized. They seek bases of operation to train more killers and export more violence. They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein. They seek weapons of mass destruction, to impose their will through blackmail and catastrophic attacks. None of this is the expression of a religion. It is a totalitarian political ideology, pursued with consuming zeal, and without conscience.
While I would like to say most of these answers are new, they are not. Other than the revelation about the destruction of Abu Gharib (good riddance), this information has been public knowledge, available to anyone with a computer or access to news sources. An executive summary of the Interim Constitution
will tell you how transistion will take place, the only real question remaining is 'who', not how, and this will be clarified in the coming week. Belmont Club
has provided excellent and accurate analysis, unmatched by any media source I have read, on the strategies and tactics on Fallujah and with Sadr. In fact, it looks as if President Bush's explanation on Iraqis taking responsibility in Fallujah and with Sadr
was written by Wretchard himself. Even a lowly blogger of two months such as myself was able to draw
about the Iraqi insurgents and how they are being marginalized. Al Qaeda and Saddam sponsored terrorist Zarqari
told us how he intends to ratchet up the violence and promote a civil war
Shias and Sunnis in an attempt to fracture the coalition and Iraqi groups supporting the transition to sovereignty. What exactly is new?
This is not to say the speech was useless or uninformative. The message was clear: a plan to transfer power and support the Iraqi people does exist, Iraqis must take responsibility and ownership for their security, America will stand by Iraq, Iraq is related to the War on Terror, al Qaeda is active in Iraq, and the establishment of democracy in Iraq is crucial to winning the War on Terror. The speech was designed for those not paying attention to the War on Terror and Iraq's significance in this war; it was given to revitalize support among those who have been disenchanted about Iraq due to a constant barrage of negative news. As with prior speeches and statements from President Bush, he clearly defines the difference between American values and those of our enemy, and the sacrifice and commitment needed to see this war through. President Bush may need to give many more such speeches to turn the tide of negative opinion on the war. As the media continues portraying the war in the worst possible light, President Bush will need to continue to counter the conventional wisdom about Iraq. Tonight was a good start.
Posted by bill roggio @ 1:10 AM