Speaking at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, President George W. Bush this evening outlined five steps to Iraqi sovereignty and Iraq’s free future.
According to Bush, the first step is the official transfer of authority to a sovereign Iraqi government on June 30. This will be followed by establishment of security, rebuilding infrastructure, encouraging international support, and finally moving toward national elections and establishment of permanent government in Iraq.
“History is moving, and it will tend toward hope or tend toward tragedy. Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. Our actions, too, are guided by a vision. We believe that freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East.”
“These two visions have now met in Iraq, and are contending for the future of that country. We will persevere and defeat this enemy, and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty.”
Part of Bush’s outline for Iraqi sovereignty involves a United Nations authorized international peace-keeping force under U.S. control. American officials presented a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council earlier today which would establish such a force and recognize the planned change in sovereignty on June 30.
Bush also announced that a new maximum security prison would be built in Iraq, and after its completion the Abu Ghraib complex would be demolished (if the Iraqi government approves). Some Abu Ghraib prisoners were subjected to abuses at the hands of American troops, sparking an ongoing abuse scandal and congressional investigation.
“Under Saddam Hussein, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison as a fitting symbol of Iraq’s new beginning.”
[Compare that to this paragraph from my last opinion piece, written 11 days earlier: “Finally, we must close Abu Ghraib. Not only must we close it, we must bulldoze or bomb it to the ground. Some of the worst atrocities of the Saddam Hussein regime were committed at that prison, and—sadly—some of the worst atrocities of the American occupation occurred there too. It is a place that represents evil. If only for symbolic reasons, Abu Ghraib must go.”]