WASHINGTON April 6 —
Setting up a new Iraqi government likely will take more than six
months once coalition forces take full control of the country, a
Bush administration official said Sunday.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the interim
government the United States will run with coalition partners and
Iraqi opposition leaders is designed to be a bridge to whatever
government the Iraqi people choose and is not designed to dictate
the country's future leadership.
"The goal is not to install some particular group as the new
leaders of Iraq. That absolutely contradicts the whole notion of
democracy," Wolfowitz said as focused attention on postwar Iraq
while making the rounds on the Sunday talk shows.
As for a timetable, Wolfowitz note it took six months for a
government to form in northern Iraq after the first Gulf War.
"This is a more complicated situation," he told "Fox News
Sunday." "It probably will take more time than that."
Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
no decision has been made on the size of the force that will be in
Iraq during the transition. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki
has suggested hundreds of thousands might be needed, but Pace noted
only 10,000 are being used in Afghanistan, which is larger and more
"What you need to determine is what missions need to be
accomplished, and then how many forces you need to do that, to give
the Iraqi people a chance to rebuild their own army, get their own
police force up, get their own government working, so we can in fact
leave as quickly as possible," Pace said on NBC's "Meet the
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon indicated the vast majority
of the 40,000 British troops in Iraq could be home by the end of the
year. When asked how many British troops should be in Iraq in six to
nine months, Hoon said: "I would hope that it would be a very small
Wolfowitz said the U.S.-led coalition will spearhead the effort
to set up an interim government, but he stressed the Bush
administration is eager to see Iraqis rule themselves.
"You can't talk about democracy and then turn around and say
we're going to pick the leaders of this democratic country," he said
on CBS's "Face the Nation."
And he was adamant that while the United Nations should have a
role in helping with the new government, the administration does not
want to see the U.N. supervise and run the country.
"I think the right goal is to move as quickly as we can ... to a
government that is if I could paraphrase Abraham Lincoln of the
Iraqis, by the Iraqis, for the Iraqis," Wolfowitz said. "Not to make
them a colonial administration or a U.N. administration, or run in
any way by foreigners."
Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., echoed that
sentiment on ABC's "This Week."
"We learned a lot in the Balkan situation, where the U.N.
suddenly moved in," he said. "And here we are 12 years later, still
struggling to try and put those pieces back together. We've learned
from those experiences, and we're not going to repeat them in the
aftermath of this conflict."
Wolfowitz and Warner agreed that any interim Iraqi government
should be made up of both Iraqis who left the country because of
Saddam Hussein and those who stayed and suffered under his
"We're trying to put together a meld of the two to perform a
transition government until the Iraqi people, exercising the
fundamentals of democracy, can elect their own government," Warner
Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Foreign
Relations Committee, said the transition to a new government must be
"If it looks like it's imposed by us, if it looks like we sat
down, hand-picked the leaders, put them in place, it will not have
any legitimacy with the Iraqi people," he said.
Biden also said the U.S.-led coalition should stay in Iraq until
it's clear the basic needs of the Iraqis for water, food and
medicine can be met.
|British troopers, shown in a
image from video, talk with a detained Iraqi while sitting in
an armored personnel carrier during a routine patrol to gather
information about missing soldiers Thursday, April 4, 2003, in
Zubayr, Iraq. (AP Photo/UK Pool via
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