Recently, in a speech at U.S. Army War
College, President George W. Bush addressed the country in an
effort to clarify his plans for the June 30 transfer of sovereignty
to the interim Iraqi Governing Council. Yet, his
“details” were remarkably nonspecific; his speech was
filled instead with broad rhetoric about democracy, liberty and
freedom. While it is encouraging that Bush feels it necessary to
engage the public on the issue of Iraq, it is imperative that he
stop using the worn-out phrases that have characterized the vast
majority of his foreign policy pronouncements. A clear and honest
assessment of the challenges on the ground, as well as a realistic
plan for the future must be presented to the American public.

Mira Levitan

Bush claims that after June 30, Iraqis will have full control
over their state and that the Iraqi people will be allowed to
govern their own affairs. As a sign of goodwill, Bush has
guaranteed that the Coalition Provisional Authority will be
stripped of power and replaced by the Iraqi Governing Council.
However, Bush does not emphasize either that 138,000 American
troops will have a continuing presence in Iraq, that the United
States and coalition partners will retain final say in matters of
security or that the Iraqi Governing Council will have no power to
pass new laws. When Bush points out June 30 as a crucial landmark
in putting Iraqis in charge of their own destiny, he conveniently
disregards many caveats he should rightfully mention.

The core of Bush’s plan, the Iraqi Governing Council, will
itself not even be truly representative of the Iraqi people —
a United Nations taskforce will nominate it. While this is less
controversial than a council chosen by American interim
administrators, it is nonetheless still not true Iraqi
self-determination. When Bush repeatedly claims that Iraq will have
sovereignty on June 30, he means to say that an appointed council
will have limited power to plan future elections. Like his speech,
the upcoming “transfer of power” will be merely
superficial. It constitutes an attempt at assuaging concerns and
dressing windows while actual substantive change remains obscured
by the shadow of the future.

The President has been placed into a position where many
citizens are demanding that he elucidate a course of action in
Iraq. Theoretically, then, Bush’s speech was an attempt at
providing this vision of the future to the American people.
Unfortunately, instead of painting a realistic strategic picture of
Iraq, Bush flooded the airwaves with half-truths. While honesty and
straightforwardness may be lofty expectations for politicians,
politics and electoral maneuvering should not influence
Bush’s wartime decision-making. While it may be politically
expedient to convince Americans that Iraqis will be running their
own country in less than a month, to say so is a blatant
misrepresentation of reality. On the grand scale, Bush has an
obligation not only to Americans and Iraqis, but also citizens of
the world to present a plan for the future of Iraq. If Bush plans
to overcome the international and domestic tensions he created by
taking unilateral and polarizing action in Iraq, he must employ
honesty, not political doublespeak.

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