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Old 10-03-2003, 11:44 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool "A Marine's Letter From Iraq Serves as a Scathing Indictment of the Media"

Editors Note: This letter is written by a Marine in Iraq. It is submiited by Carl Sundstrom, San Diego, California, Retired Captain U.S. Naval Intelligence).

Hey Guys,

Things have been pretty hectic since the end of hostilities and the start of the real war. Despite what the reporters in the press like to say over and over:

1) We did expect some armed resistance from the Ba'ath Party and Feydaheen;
2) It isn't any worse than expected;
3) Things are getting better each day, and
4) The morale of the troops is A-1, except for the normal *****ing and griping.

My brief love affair with the press guys who had the courage to be embedded with the troops during the fighting is probably over, especially since we are back being criticized by the same Roland Headly types that used to hang around the Palestine Hotel drinking Baghdad Bob's whiskey and parroting his ridiculous B.S.

I'm in Baghdad now since SpOpComm 5 relocated here from Qatar. We came up in mid-June to help set up operation Scorpion and Sidewinder. It represents a major shift in tactics. Instead of being sitting ducks for the snipers, we now are going after them.

I'm no longer baby-sitting the pukes from CNN and the canned hams from the networks, but have a combat mission coordinating a bunch of A teams seeking, finding and rooting out the mostly non-Iraqis that are well-armed, well-paid (in U.S. dollars) and always waiting to wail for the press and then shoot some GI in the back in the midst of a crowd.

The only reason the GIs are upset (not demoralized) is that they cannot touch those taunting bags of gas that scream in their faces and riot on cue when they spot a camera man from ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN or NBC. Then they know the next nightly news will be about how chaotic things are and how much the Iraqi people hate us.

Some do hate us. But the vast majority don't, and more and more see that the GIs don't start anything, are by-and-large friendly and very compassionate, especially to kids and old people. I saw a bunch of 19-year-olds from the 82nd Airborne not return fire coming from a mosque until they got a group of elderly civilians out of harm's way. The Iraqis saw it, too.

A bunch of bad guys used a group of women and children as human shields. The GIs surrounded them and negotiated their surrender fifteen hours later and when they discovered a three year-old girl had been injured by the big tough guys throwing her down a flight of stairs, the GIs called in a MedVac helicopter to take her and her mother to the nearest field hospital. The Iraqis watched it all, and there hasn't been a problem in that neighborhood since. How many such stories, and there are hundreds of them, ever get reported in the fair and balanced press?

The civilians who have figured it out faster than anyone are the local teenagers. They watch the GIs and try to talk to them and ask questions about America and now wear wrap-around sunglasses, GAP T-shirts, Dockers (or even better Levis with the red tags) and Nikes (or Egyptian knock-offs, but with the ''swoosh'') and love to listen to AFN when the GIs play it on their radios. They participate less and less in the demonstrations and help keep us informed when a wannabe bad-guy shows up in the neighborhood.

The younger kids are going back to school again, don't have to listen to some mullah rant about the Koran ten hours a day, and they get a hot meal. They see the same GIs who man the corner checkpoint also help clear the playground, install new swingsets and create soccer fields. I watched a bunch of kids playing baseball in one playground, under the supervision of a couple of GIs from Oklahoma. They weren't very good but were having fun, probably more than most Little Leaguers.

The place is still a mess, but most of it has been for years. But the hospitals are open and are in the process of being brought into the 21st Century. The MOs and visiting surgeons from home are teaching their docs new techniques and one American pharmaceutical company (you know, the kind that all the hippies like to scream about as greedy) donated enough medicine to stock 45 hospital pharmacies for a year.

Safe water is more available. Electricity has been restored to pre-war levels but saboteurs keep cutting the lines. And the old Ba'ath big shots are upset because they can't get fuel for their private generators. One actually complained to General McKeirnan, who told him it was a rough world.

The MPs are screening the 80,000 Iraqi police force and rehabbing the ones that weren't goons, shake-down artists or torturers like they did in East Berlin, Kosovo and Afghanistan. There are dual patrols of Iraqi cops and U.S./U.K./Polish MPs now in most of the larger cities. Basra has 3.5 million inhabitants. Mosul is a city of 2 million. Kirkuk has 1 million. Most of hundreds of other small towns have not had riots or shootings.

The six U.K. cops were killed in a small Shiite town by the ex-cops they were re-habbing. According to a Royal Marine colonel I talked to, the town now has about twenty permanent vacancies in its police force. He's a big potato eater from Belfast named Huggins and knows how to handle terrorists after twenty years fighting with the IRA.

The MSNBC reported on the air that ''dozens of GIs'' were badly burned when two RPGs hit a truck belonging to an Engineer Battalion that was parked by a construction site. The truck was hit and burned, three GIs received minor injuries (including the driver who burnt his hand) and three warriors of Allah were promptly sent to enjoy their 72 slave girls in Paradise.

A mosque in Fallujah blew up this morning while the local imam, a creep named Fahlil (who was one of the biggest local loudmouths that frequently appeared on CNN) was helping a Syrian Hamas member teach eight teenagers how to make belt bombs. Right away the local Feyhadeen propaganda group started wailing that the Americans hit it with a TOW missile (If they had there wouldn't have been any mosque left!) and the usual suspects took to the streets for CNN and BBC. One fool was dragging around a bloody piece of tin, claiming it was part of the missile.

The cameras rolled and the idiot started repeating his story, then one of my guys asked him in Arabic where he had left the rag he usually wore around his face that made him look like a girl. He was a local leader of the Feyhadeen. We took the clown in custody and were asked rather indignantly by the twit from BBC if we were trying to shut up ''the poor man who had seen his mosque and friends blown up.''

I told the airy-fairy who the raghead was and if he knew Arabic (which he obviously didn't) he'd know he was a Palestinian. I suggested we take him down to the local jail and we'd lock him and his cameraman in a cell with the ''poor man'' and they could interview him until we took him to headquarters. They declined the invitation. Guess what played on the British Broadcasting System that evening? Did the Americans blow up a mosque? See the poor man who is still in a state of shock over losing his mosque and relatives? Yep. The Palestinian.

Our search and destroy missions are largely at night, free of reporters and generally terrifying to those brave warriors of Allah. The only thing that frightens them more is hearing the word ''Gitmo.'' The word is out that a trip to Guantanimo Bay is not a Caribbean vacation and they usually start squealing like little mice when an interrogator mentions ''Gitmo.'' No wonder the International Red Cross, the National Council of Churches and the French keep protesting about the place. They know it has proven to be very effective in keeping several hundred real fanatical psychopaths in check and very frankly would rather see them cut loose to go kill some more GIs or innocent Americans just to make W. look bad.

We have about 200 really bad guys in custody now and probably will park them in the desert behind a triple roll of razor wire, backed up by a couple of Bradleys pointed their way if they decide to riot. The more we go after them and not vice-versa, I think we will see the sniper attacks go down. Yeah, they'll get lucky now and then, but it's showtime.

Our first objective is to get the die-hards off the street (or make them too scared to come out in them) and destroy their caches of weapons (we have collected more than 227,000 AK-47s and that is only the tip of the iceberg.

We must continue to get public services up and running so the local families can get water, sewage and garbage service, electricity, public transportation, oil fields and refineries working and a dinar that won't halve in value every month.

It's going to be a long haul (remember it took 10-15 years in Japan and West Germany) but if we don't stick with it, nobody else will, and we'll have some other loony running the place again. This place has greater potential than Saudi Arabia or Iran.


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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Old 10-03-2003, 11:45 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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How Media Deceive You About Iraq
Posted Oct. 2, 2003

By J. Michael Waller

Remember the "quagmire" about to consume U.S. and coalition forces in the first days of the invasion of Iraq? Some home-based journalists and talking heads all but warned that Saddam Hussein's formidable military and a hostile Iraqi desert were sure to bog down U.S. troops in another Vietnam [see "Out of the 'Quagmire,'" April 29-May 12]. Nonsense, the Pentagon said, with civilian and military leaders alike confidently describing the remarkable progress being made despite the sandstorms and stretched supply lines. The front-line reporting by embedded journalists supported the Pentagon's prediction of the imminent fall of Baghdad.

Half a year after the liberation of Iraq, it is quagmire time again. To judge from much of the reporting and commentary during the last few months, the United States is headed for an even bigger Vietnam in Iraq with little to show for its efforts. Critics point to continued scarcity of electricity, potable water and sanitation, a decrepit oil infrastructure, anti-American protesters, divided political forces, street crime, U.S. insensitivity to local culture, assassinations of moderate Iraqi leaders, friendly-fire incidents against supportive Iraqis and the almost-daily shootings and bombings that on average have taken the lives of one U.S. or allied soldier a day. And, oh yes, the United States hasn't yet produced enough evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, so the whole invasion was based on a lie.

The sky is falling. Again.

But the emerging facts tell a different story, one of remarkable successes against tremendous odds and despite major screwups in the occupation of Iraq. During the few weeks of combat operations last spring, more than 700 embedded Western journalists provided the world with a window on the victorious U.S.-led coalition forces and the realities of Saddam's Iraq. Today, however, only about 27 Western journalists are on the ground in Iraq, and the reduced quality of reporting shows. A bipartisan group of congressmen visited Iraq in September to see the situation firsthand. One of their conclusions: The big media generally have it wrong.

"The media stress the wounds, the injuries and the deaths, as they should, but for instance in northern Iraq [the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division] has 3,100 projects, from soccer fields to schools to refineries. All good stuff that isn't being reported," said Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee who organized the seven-member bipartisan delegation.

Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), a Vietnam combat veteran, came back convinced that "we have a reasonable chance of success." But, he added in a hard-hitting op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded." The press and television, Marshall alleged, are "not balancing this bad news with 'the rest of the story' - the progress made daily, the good news. This falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy."

Emboldening the enemy? "We have a narrow window to get this right and things could still go very badly," Skelton told reporters.

"In fairness, the war is neither going as well as the administration says it's going or as badly as the media say," added Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.).

One of the returning lawmakers, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), noted the differences in news coverage of an attack in which three U.S. servicemen were killed. "It was a classic differential. I saw the Fox News presentation on the three troops who had been killed. The next segment was the report on the Florida National Guard opening a school [in Iraq]. That's reporting the bad and the good." Wilson tells Insight that while driving in his car he heard a different story. "On the radio, I heard the CBS report on the three deaths, and it had an analyst come on and, in a virtually hysterical analysis, announce that this was a new stage in the conflict and that the remnants of Saddam's forces had clearly re-established themselves. I almost went off the road. Our three troops had stumbled across Saddam's remnants in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. That's not a surprise. That's not a regrouping of the forces."

U.S. military leaders agree. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq, told reporters, "When you look across this country there is no practical threat. There is no tactical threat. There is no strategic threat or operational threat that exists to the coalition or to America." Sanchez added with a shake of his head, "It is very disturbing to me to sit here every day and watch the news back home that focuses on the bad things that are happening in Iraq."

Some see the bias as symptomatic of pack journalism, in which reporters based in foreign capitals hang out with each other at the same hotel and develop the same story. An occasional soldier getting blown up makes more exciting headlines than good news and is easier to report.

Wilson sees another problem: politicization as the 2004 presidential campaign heats up. "There are some people in the press, not all, who are emphasizing the negative. It's very short-sighted. It has a short political agenda as opposition to George W. Bush," Wilson tells Insight.

Based on Saddam's emergency plans captured at the end of the war, his Ba'athist loyalists were depending upon Western correspondents to continue hyping the militarily insignificant but emotionally charged daily attacks on coalition forces, as in Vietnam. "Indeed, I think the media are putting our soldiers at risk by giving false encouragement to remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime," Wilson says, "by emphasizing the perceived dissolution of resolve in America, a perceived Vietnamization in America where the public grows tired of supporting the troops."

The Bush administration is on the offensive, emphasizing real accomplishments in Iraq in what it acknowledges will remain a tough and costly challenge. For all the inevitable mistakes and difficulties, the coalition is making extraordinary progress in helping Iraqis get back on their feet, administration officials say. "If one looks back at Germany or Japan or Bosnia or Kosovo and measures the progress that has taken place in this country [Iraq] in four or five months, it dwarfs any other experience that I'm aware of," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters while visiting Iraq in early September. The facts show substantial progress - and tend to vindicate President Bush's policy.

Forty-five of the 52 Iraqi figures on the deck of "Wanted" playing cards either have turned themselves in or have been captured or killed. Saddam Hussein's defense minister, Sultan Hashim Ahmad, surrendered peacefully to the 101st Airborne in Mosul on Sept. 19. The feared enforcers of Saddam's rule, and the only ones capable of resurrecting his regime, are dead. A senior Pentagon official tells Insight, "The order is capture or kill the high-value targets. I stand by that order. I have no preference, particularly."

More than 45 countries have offered military forces to the peacekeeping effort in Iraq, with more than 13,000 forces from 19 nations in-country at last count. Even Russia is considering the dispatch of troops to Iraq under U.S. command. The United Kingdom and Poland are preparing to lead multinational divisions. Fourteen countries are committed to deploy another 12,000 troops, Defense Department documents say.

Iraqis are starting to assume security roles in their country. The United States and its coalition partners already have trained and armed more than 50,000 Iraqis for new police and civil-defense forces, and for a new Iraqi army, Pentagon and congressional sources say. "A relatively new concept is a civil-defense force, roughly a cross between a police and paramilitary force," says a senior Pentagon official. "They will take over fixed sites where we don't need our troops, like hospitals," and are intended to establish security nationwide.

The coalition is raising a new Iraqi Militia Force to help root out Saddam loyalists, death squads and foreign terrorists. The United States now is training 4,000 Iraqi militiamen, the first of whom are expected to graduate soon and will work under U.S. command. Some Iraqi security forces, such as the 500-man Basra River Police, have been on patrol since June. Already 58 of Iraq's 89 cities have their own police forces, with 34,000 police already hired and trained, the official said, "with uniforms, with guns, in place and more coming online all the time. It's not without hazard because they're being intimidated and they're paying a price."

The United States is sending nearly 30,000 more Iraqis to Hungary for police and military training. "In less than a year they'll have a division, and in less than three years they'll have two divisions," a senior administration official tells Insight. "They will free up U.S. forces to do what we need to do." Gen. Sanchez rejects calls from politicians calling for deployment of more U.S. troops, insisting, "I don't need any more forces here."

While international teams quietly continue their search for weapons of mass destruction, evidence is mounting of a connection between the former Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda. Gilbert Merritt, a federal judge helping Iraqis rebuild their judicial system, wrote an article in July describing "strong proof" of a connection between an Iraqi official in Pakistan who was "responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group." Merritt, a Democrat and family friend of former vice president Al Gore, said, "Until this time, I have been skeptical about these claims. Now I have changed my mind." Vice President Dick Cheney described the al-Qaeda-Baghdad connection to NBC's Tim Russert on Sept. 14, including Iraqi involvement in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The United States and the coalition are making headway on the soft hearts-and-minds side, too. The internationally funded programs are being implemented seemingly without end. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded projects in Iraq span the social spectrum in the hearts-and-minds campaign. Through them U.S. taxpayers will refurbish the Aqrah Sports Stadium in Arbil (to "foster interethnic friendship in Aqrah and the surrounding villages," USAID says); equip soccer teams in Fallujah, from field refurbishment to soccer balls, cleats and uniforms; and provide education programs for lactating women. Emergency USAID grants have strengthened new Iraqi human-rights groups to help them document the crimes of the Saddam Hussein regime. One of the projects was to assist Iraqis "to continue collecting and researching information on missing persons and mass graves."

More and more Iraqis are collaborating with U.S. forces, yielding big results. Iraqis are coming forward to provide intelligence to the United States. "Increased Iraqi-civilian help to U.S. forces has resulted in many of the great accomplishments of late, especially identifying wanted figures and arms caches," a senior Pentagon official tells Insight. A U.S. official working in Iraq tells this magazine, "We couldn't have made the weapons discoveries we've been making without a lot of help from the local people." CIA adviser David Kay, a weapons inspector, agrees, saying more Iraqis are "collaborating and cooperating" with the United States.

U.S. troops report that most Iraqis like them in place. Rep. Wilson met in Iraq with servicemen of all ranks from his home state of South Carolina who told him that between 70 and 90 percent of Iraqis support the U.S. troop presence. "That's an astounding number," Wilson says. "For politicians we're looking for that 50 percent plus one."

Such support is necessary if the coalition is to ensure an orderly transfer of power to the Iraqi people. The transfer process began on July 13 when Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) who technically has dictatorial powers in Iraq, formally established a transitional national political leadership called the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC).

Meanwhile, "Iraq has no constitution, no laws, no civil or criminal code. It has no functioning judicial system. Almost everything remains as under the Saddam Hussein regime," a senior administration official tells Insight. "We just can't leave Iraq without putting in place the necessary structures to ensure a stable civil society." So the 25-person IGC that Bremer assembled after consultations with Iraqi tribal and regional leaders is organizing itself and forming commissions and committees to serve as Iraqi-led task forces to identify problems and devise solutions. It is empowered to name interim government ministers, oversee their performance and require testimony from them about how they plan to run their respective ministries, according to a senior U.S. official in Baghdad. It prepares policy initiatives for Bremer and proposes policies on reform of police, the judicial system, the armed forces and national security in general.

The IGC increasingly is taking on responsibility for a national government budget. "The council will be able to consider amendments to the 2003 emergency budget," according to a Pentagon fact sheet. Iraq's 2004 budget will be subject to IGC approval.

The United States intends for the IGC to assemble a Preparatory Constitutional Commission to recommend guidelines for writing and ratifying a new constitution. Already the IGC is considering a process for regional assemblies to elect their own delegates to a national constitutional convention. Once ratified, the constitution would provide a legal basis for an independent and sovereign government through national presidential and legislative elections.

In a series of diplomatic breakthroughs that have legitimized U.S. policy, the IGC has been gaining greater acceptance and legitimacy in the Arab world. The Arab League recognizes the IGC as the legitimate representative of Iraq. The IGC represents Iraq at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The United Nations has yet to recognize a new Iraqi government, but the IGC has sent envoys to the world body and some of its members met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan in late September - a meeting that IGC officials say is the first tacit recognition that the United Nations recognizes and accepts new realities about U.S. strategy against terrorism.

Realities in Iraq, and recognition that the situation is still very fluid, appear to have cemented bipartisan support for a continued and costly U.S. commitment. "I was very pleasantly surprised," Rep. Wilson says of his mission with his Democratic colleagues. "I didn't want to be argumentative when I was on the trip. I was very surprised to see that Congressman Skelton said we were in 99 percent agreement. I agree with him."

These lawmakers see the constant carping about continued attacks on U.S. personnel to be damaging in the long term. "Congressman Marshall was very pointed in his view that the negative reporting from the media was very injurious to our troops," Rep. Wilson says. "If I said that as a Republican, it wouldn't mean anything. For a Democrat to say it, that's startling."

J. Michael Waller is a senior writer for Insight magazine.


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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Old 10-03-2003, 11:46 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Help Iraq to Help Itself

We're not there to stay. We are there to get the job done.


If you are like most Americans, the news you see on television and read in the press from Iraq seems grim--stories of firefights, car bombs, battles with terrorists. It is true that Coalition troops are serving in difficult and dangerous circumstances. But what is also true, and seems to be much less often reported, is that the Coalition has--in less than five months--racked up a series of achievements in both security and civil reconstruction that may be without precedent.

I recently visited our forces in Tikrit, Mosul, Baghdad and Babylon. Their spirits are good, because they know their mission is important and they know they are making progress. Many recently got access to satellite television from the U.S.--and their first glimpse of the news coverage back home. Some expressed amazement at how few of their accomplishments are reflected in the news on Iraq. As one solider we met in Baghdad put it, "We rebuild a lot of bridges and it's not news--but one bridge gets blown up and it's a front-page story."
Their successes deserve to be told. Consider just a few of their accomplishments:

? Today, in Iraq, virtually all major hospitals and universities have been re-opened, and hundreds of secondary schools--until a few months ago used as weapons caches--have been rebuilt and were ready for the start of the fall semester.

? 56,000 Iraqis have been armed and trained in just a few months, and are contributing to the security and defense of their country. Today, a new Iraqi Army is being trained and more than 40,000 Iraqi police are conducting joint patrols with Coalition forces. By contrast, it took 14 months to establish a police force in post-war Germany--and 10 years to begin training a new German Army.

? As security improves, so does commerce: 5,000 small businesses have opened since liberation on May 1. An independent Iraqi Central Bank was established and a new currency announced in just two months--accomplishments that took three years in postwar Germany.

? The Iraqi Governing Council has been formed and has appointed a cabinet of ministers--something that took 14 months in Germany.

? In major cities and most towns and villages, municipal councils have been formed and are making decisions about local matters--something that took eight months in Germany.

? The Coalition has completed 6,000 civil affairs projects--with many more under way.

All this, and more, has taken place in less than five months. The speed and breadth of what Ambassador Paul Bremer (and his predecessor Gen. Jay Garner), Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. Rick Sanchez, and the Coalition team, both military and civilian, have accomplished is more than impressive--it may be without historical parallel. Yet much of the world does not know about this progress, because the focus remains on the security situation--which is difficult, but improving. Baath remnants and foreign terrorists are opposing the Coalition, to be sure. But the Coalition is dealing with them.

This does not mean dangers don't exist. The road ahead will not be smooth. There will be setbacks. Regime loyalists and foreign terrorists are working against the Coalition. Increasingly they do so by targeting Coalition successes. Yet the Iraqi people are providing intelligence for our forces every day. Division commanders consistently report an increase in the number of Iraqis coming forward with actionable intelligence. With Iraqi help, the Coalition has now captured or killed 43 of Iraq's 55 most wanted, as well as thousands of other Baath loyalists and terrorists, and seized large caches of weapons. As Iraqis see Coalition forces act, their confidence grows--and they are providing more information.

In Baghdad, a reporter asked why we don't just "flood the zone"--double or treble the number of American troops in the country? We could do that, but it would be a mistake.

First, as Gens. Abizaid and Sanchez have stated, they do not believe they need more American troops--if they did, they would ask and they would get them. The division commanders in Iraq have said that, far from needing more forces, additional troops could complicate their mission--because it would require more force protection, more combat support, and create pressure to adopt a defensive posture (guarding buildings, power lines, etc.), when their intention is to remain on the offense against the terrorists and Baath party remnants.

That is why, at the end of May, Gen. Jim Mattis, the Marine division commander in the south central area, decided to send home 15,000 of his 23,000 troops. As he recently explained: "If at any point I had needed more troops, I could have asked for them. But I have not needed them. The enemy over there, once we get the intelligence on them, [is] remarkably easy to destroy. My way of thinking: If we needed more people on our side, enlist more Iraqis."

That is precisely what Coalition forces are doing--training tens of thousands of Iraqis to serve as police, border guards, a new facilities protection service, a new Iraqi National Army, and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. Iraqis are eager to participate in their own security. The commanders in Iraq report that they are exceeding recruitment goals for these forces.

The Coalition is not in Iraq to stay. Our goal is to help Iraqis so they can take responsibility for the governance and security of their country, and foreign forces can leave. That is why the president has asked for $20 billion to help the Iraqis get on a path to self-government and self-reliance. He's requested $15 billion to speed repairs to Iraq's dilapidated infrastructure so Iraq can begin generating income through oil production and foreign investments. And he's requested another $5 billion to help the Iraqis assume the responsibility for the security of their own country. The goal is not for the U.S. to rebuild Iraq. Rather, it is to help the Iraqis get on a path where they can pay to rebuild their own country. The money the president is requesting is a critical element in the Coalition's exit strategy. Because the sooner we help Iraqis to defend their own people the faster Coalition forces can leave and they can get about the task of fashioning truly Iraqi solutions to their future.

In Baghdad, I met with members of the Governing Council. One message came through loud and clear: They are grateful for what Coalition forces are doing for their country. But they do not want more American troops--they want to take on more responsibility for security and governance of the country. The goal is to help them do so. Those advocating sending more Americans forces--against the expressed wishes of both our military commanders and Iraq's interim leaders--need to consider whether doing so would truly advance our objective of transferring governing responsibility to the Iraqi people.

Iraqis will have to overcome the physical and psychological effects of living three decades under a Stalinist system. But the ingredients for success are there. Iraq has oil, water and vast wheat and barley fields. It has biblical sites, and great potential for tourism. It has an educated, intelligent and industrious population. We should resist the urge to do for the Iraqis what would be better done by the Iraqis. We can help--but only if we balance the size of our presence to meet the military challenge, while putting increasing responsibility in Iraqi hands.
Mr. Rumsfeld is secretary of defense.

Copyright ? 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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