Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A John Edwards sighting:

WASHINGTON-Senator John Edwards on Tuesday called United States policy in postwar Iraq "confused and chaotic," and outlined steps America and our allies should take to make Iraq a stable democracy that is a model for the Arab world.

"Since that statue of Saddam Hussein came crashing down, America's postwar policy has been confused and chaotic," Senator Edwards said. "The American-led civil administration is under-staffed, under-equipped and unprepared."

Before the Bush administration "undermines all that we have accomplished," Senator Edwards said the United States should:

Involve our allies, the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in establishing a free Iraqi government with legitimacy in the region and around the world.

Create a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force to ensure that the Iraqi people live in a place that is safe and secure.

Ensure that the Iraqi people - not some puppet government - shape the nation's future under a government that reflects the nation's diversity.

Help develop a prosperous economy by making clear that Iraq's vast oil reserves will not be exploited by the United States or others.

Unless the United States takes those steps to meet its ongoing responsibilities in Iraq, Senator Edwards cautioned, the victory that our military achieved could be squandered as radical clerics take advantage of a power vacuum in the postwar chaos.

A cosponsor of the resolution that gave President Bush authority to wage war in Iraq, Senator Edwards and others stressed during the run up to the war last fall that the administration needed to focus on what would happen in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was driven from power.

The senator first laid out his four-step proposal for postwar Iraq in a Senate statement on April 10, one day after the fall of Baghdad.

"It is in America's national interest to help build an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors because a democratic, tolerant and accountable Iraq will be a peaceful regional partner," Senator Edwards said.