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9/22/03 - WHAT DOES THE COALITION WANT - 2003-09-22

Now that the people of Iraq have been freed from the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, some critics are already calling on the U.S.-led coalition to turn over the reins of government to the Iraqi people and leave the country. Indeed, this is the coalition's primary goal. But as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, before that can happen, the Iraqi people must first build institutions of government that will ensure freedom and democracy for their country:

"You can’t just say, 'You're a government -- fine, go, you have full authority.' The coalition provisional authority is responsible for security now, and it will be some time before any new government could take over the responsibilities inherent in being in charge of security. And then, governments to survive, the kind of government that we want to see Iraq have, has to have legitimacy, and legitimacy comes from having a constitution, a constitution that's been ratified by the people. And once you have that constitution, you then give legitimacy to a new government through elections, elections that represent the view of the people."

In the words of Secretary of State Powell, "The worst thing that could happen is for us to push this process too quickly before the capacity for governance and the basis for legitimacy is there, and see it fail." So what does the coalition want from the Iraqi people? Secretary of State Powell explains:

"The only thing we're expecting in return is a free, democratic Iraq that will be a friend and partner of the United States and a friend and partner of their neighbors in this part of the world and a responsible player on the world stage. That's what we came here to do. That is what our young soldiers gave their lives for. And that is what we're committed to helping Iraq achieve."

As President George W. Bush put it, "We're keeping our word to the Iraqi people by helping them to make their country an example of democracy and prosperity throughout the region. This long-term undertaking is vital to peace in that region and to the security of the United States. Our coalition and the people of Iraq have made remarkable progress in a short time, and we will complete the great work we have begun."