On November 6th, President George W. Bush signed an eighty-seven billion dollar supplemental aid package that includes more than eighteen-billion dollars for the reconstruction of Iraq. And in October, at the Madrid donors’ conference, many other countries made pledges totaling at least thirteen-billion dollars for Iraqi reconstruction.
Iraq now has a largely free press with one-hundred-seventy newspapers. Courts have been reconstituted, and a new currency is in circulation. As Salim Kasim, a Baghdad auto mechanic, told the Los Angeles Times, “Freedom is much sweeter.”
But terrorist activities continue in Iraq. The challenge,” says U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, “is to help the Iraqis see the job through –- to help them set up a viable, democratic government, with reliable security forces”:
“Approximately one-hundred-thousand Iraqis now serve in the various branches of the Iraqi security forces, and there are five –- the Iraqi police force, the facilities protection service, the new Iraqi army, the border guards, and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. I have to say approximately because the numbers are growing so fast that it’s hard for me to have an accurate, precise count.... And another tragic number that testifies to their commitment: More than eighty of them have died in the line of duty since June 1st.”
Mr. Wolfowitz says that the U.S. is committed to staying in Iraq for however long it takes:
“As we talk about the challenges ahead of us in Iraq, it is very important to remember that this is part of a much bigger war on terrorism, a war that is not going to be over with, with one victory in Afghanistan or another victory in Baghdad, or a larger victory in all of Iraq. Nor will it be over as we arrest, kill, or capture thousands of members of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.”
Winning in Iraq is a significant part of the war on terrorism, said Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, but it is “not the only part.”