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Operation enduring presence

"Operation enduring presence" Continued...

Issue: "George W. Bush: Gut check," April 24, 2004

The United States and a new Iraqi government, he said, "have a common interest to make troop deployment as short as possible, but not to the point we give terrorists and extremists the opportunity to think they have enough power to push Americans out of Iraq."

Overall control is another matter. For Iraqis, even pro-democracy activists who favored the war, a June 30 return to Iraqi control is not soon enough. "In my own opinion the president should have given sovereignty over on the eve of liberation," said Mr. Salih, "because for 55 years Saddam Hussein has hijacked our country and terrorized us." U.S. occupation, he said, "is an awful label. It has generated resentment and played into the hands of opponents of democracy in this part of the world."

While the United States plans to relinquish civil control to the Iraqi interim government, it will continue to manage about $5 billion in development contracts and other assistance through a new U.S. embassy. That will keep Iraq's civil authority-like its nascent military-closely tied to U.S. counterparts. "Saddam's legacy is essentially a political and administrative vacuum and Iraqis have to feel their way towards a modern political system under extraordinarily difficult circumstances," concluded the CSIS report. As U.S. political and military leaders increasingly relinquish control, the success of nation-building will depend more and more on the Iraqis.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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