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10/14/03 - TRANSITION TO A FREE SOCIETY - 2003-10-14

Reconstruction efforts in Iraq are bearing fruit. As Vice President Dick Cheney said, the Iraqi people are working to take the reins of government from the U.S.-led coalition that liberated the country from Saddam Hussein:

“We’ve created a twenty-five person governing council made up of representatives of Iraq’s diverse ethnic groups. Iraqis are now in charge of each ministry in the government. Over ninety percent of the cities and towns and villages of Iraq are now governed by local councils. Iraq’s schools are open. Iraq’s hospitals are functioning. We’re making major progress in restoring electricity. We’re rebuilding the oil system and the infrastructure of the country. In the months ahead, the Iraqis will draft a new constitution for themselves, and when this constitution’s been ratified by the Iraqi people, they’ll enjoy free and fair elections.”

The ultimate goal is self-government for the Iraqi people, reached by orderly and democratic means. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, the transition should not be rushed:

“We all have the same goal -- turn [the government] over as quickly as possible. But we believe we have an obligation to turn it over to a responsible government that is able to handle that responsibility and not just turn it over because two or three months have passed and we are anxious to remove the burden from ourselves.”

Clearly, peace and stability in Iraq are crucial for Iraqis, for the region, and for the war against global terrorism. Here’s Vice President Dick Cheney:

“Every civilized nation has a vital stake in Iraq’s successful transition to what the terrorists hate and fear most: a free society that respects human dignity and upholds human rights and that can inspire change and hope throughout the Middle East.”

In the words of President George W. Bush, “A secure and sovereign Iraq will be. . .an inspiration to all who dream of freedom in the Middle East. And the world can be certain: this essential mission in the war on terror will be completed.”