The Washington Times
I devote my space this week to a statement I signed with 22 others just before the war started. I won’t claim that the list of signers is uniquely bipartisan in the annals of Washington, but it does show that common ground need not be obtained at the expense of clarity. The statement contains an unequivocal endorsement of military action and an equally unequivocal vision of what must happen afterward.
The critical point here is that military success is not enough; it must be followed by political success in the form of a modern, liberal Iraq, the nurturing of which is a long-term commitment the United States must not shrink from and one that requires and welcomes international support:
Statement on Post-War Iraq, March 17, 2003.
Although some of us have disagreed with the administration’s handling of Iraq policy and others of us have agreed with it, we all join in supporting the military intervention in Iraq. The aim of UNSC Resolution 1441 was to give the Iraqi government a “final opportunity” to comply with all U.N. resolutions going back 12 years. The Iraqi government has demonstrably not complied. It is now time to act to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.
The removal of the present Iraqi regime from power will lay the foundation for achieving three vital goals: disarming Iraq of all its weapons of mass destruction stocks and production capabilities; establishing a peaceful, stable, democratic government in Iraq; and contributing to the democratic development of the wider Middle East.
To enhance the prospects of success, American efforts in the weeks, months, and years ahead must be guided by the following principles:
* Regime change is not an end in itself but a means to an end the establishment of a peaceful, stable, united, prosperous, and democratic Iraq free of all weapons of mass destruction. We must help build an Iraq that is governed by a pluralistic system representative of all Iraqis and that is fully committed to upholding the rule of law, the rights of all its citizens, and the betterment of all its people. The Iraqi people committed to a democratic future must be integrally involved in this process in order for it to succeed. Such an Iraq will be a force for regional stability rather than conflict and participate in the democratic development of the region.
* The process of disarming, stabilizing, rebuilding, reforming, preserving the unity of, and ultimately democratizing Iraq will require a significant investment of American leadership, time, energy, and resources, as well as important assistance from American allies and the international community. Everyone those who have joined our coalition, those who have stood aside, those who opposed military action, and, most of all, the Iraqi people and their neighbors must understand that we are committed to the rebuilding of Iraq and will provide the necessary resources and will remain for as long as it takes. Any early fixation on exit strategies and departure deadlines will undercut American credibility and greatly diminish the prospects for success.
*The U.S. military will necessarily bear much of the initial burden of maintaining stability in Iraq, securing its territorial integrity, finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction, and supporting efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to those most in need. For the next year or more, U.S. and coalition troops will have to comprise the bulk of the total international military presence in Iraq. But, as the security situation permits, authority should transfer to civilian agencies, and to representatives of the Iraqi people themselves. Much of the long-term security presence, as well as the resources for reconstruction, will have to come from our allies in Europe and elsewhere suggesting the importance of involving the NATO Alliance and other international institutions early in any planning and implementation of the post-conflict stage.
* American leadership and the long-term commitment of American resources and energies is essential, therefore, but the extraordinary demands of the effort make international support, cooperation, and participation a requirement for success. And just as a stable, peaceful and democratic Iraq is in the region’s and the world’s interest, it is important that the American-led stabilization and rebuilding effort gain the support and full involvement of key international organizations in the work of rebuilding Iraq.
The successful disarming, rebuilding, and democratic reform of Iraq can contribute decisively to the democratization of the wider Middle East. This is an objective of overriding strategic importance to the United States, as it is to the rest of the international community and its achievement will require an investment and commitment commensurate with that. We offer our full support to the president and Congress to accomplish these vitally important goals.
[Signed,] Ronald Asmus, Max Boot, Frank Carlucci, Eliot Cohen, Ivo H. Daalder, Thomas Donnelly, Peter Galbraith, Robert S. Gelbard, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Martin S. Indyk, Bruce P. Jackson, Robert Kagan, Craig Kennedy, William Kristol, Tod Lindberg, Will Marshall, Danielle Pletka, Dennis Ross, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, Walter Slocombe, James B. Steinberg, R. James Woolsey.