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5/25/03 - WINNING THE PEACE IN IRAQ - 2003-05-27

The war in Iraq was won. Now, the U.S.-led coalition is securing the peace. As U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith said, the coalition is working “to put a free Iraq on its feet and headed toward stable, democratic government.”

Iraq had been run into the ground by decades of systematic oppression and misrule. Only sixty percent of Iraqis had access to safe drinking water and only eleven of twenty-one potable water treatment plants in the city of Basra were functional before the conflict. The U.S.-led coalition is helping to rebuild all sectors of Iraqi life. In recent days, for the first time in twelve years, Basra had electrical service around the clock.

Ultimately, winning the peace in Iraq will require a transition to a government that represents all of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups. The good news is that among Iraq’s minorities, there has been a general acceptance of the idea of a unified Iraq. To accomplish this, the people of Iraq will need to develop a democratic system that rejects the call of a few groups for an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy like the one in Iran. Fortunately, most Iraqis seem to be aware that the radical Iranian clerics have only caused poverty, loss of freedom, and massive human rights violations.

In Iraq, the disestablishment of the Baath party and its structures is underway. High-ranking Baath party members are being removed from positions of authority. Through this process, the people of Iraq will be assured that their way forward will not be blocked by remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist apparatus that tyrannized them for decades.

President George W. Bush said the U.S. and its coalition allies will stand with Iraq as it establishes a new government:

“The transition from dictatorship to democracy is hard, and will take time -- but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave -- and we will leave behind a free Iraq.”

The U.S. and its coalition partners will not rest until Iraq’s peace is secured.