May 062003
 
Authors: Jason Kosena

Soldiers who have been halfway around the world are coming home now.

Although many soldiers who fought in the Iraq war are returning, many other soldiers, diplomats and politicians are in Iraq trying to piece together a new interim government and designing blueprints for a new democracy.

“The real need is to avoid the perception that the U.S. is an occupying power. On the other hand, if you want to build a stable democracy in Iraq, you have stay awhile to make sure it happens; to oversee the process,” said Roland Paris, assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado.

Paris said the goal of the United States right now is to get an interim government established as quickly as possible and then turn to a drafting of the new Iraqi government.

“My impression from administration officials is that their short-term plan is to comprise a short-term interim government by late May (of this year),” Paris said.

The United States has taken control of the restructuring process in Iraq and that could lead to a different outcome than if the United Nations had control of the rebuilding, Paris said.

When considering reconstruction of Iraq, “the key difference between the U.S. and the U.N. is that the U.N. would spend a longer time in Iraq. The U.S. wants to do it faster. The U.S. wants to hand over authority to the Iraqi’s as fast as they can and get troops out,” Paris said.

Other people feel that the U.S. stay in Iraq could be longer, in terms of stationed troops. Robert Lawrence, a political science professor at CSU, believes that the United States may keep troops and an American presence in the region if any further terrorist attacks happen against the United States.

“If terrorism continues to be a threat in the Muslim world, that may be a reason for the U.S. to stay in Iraq. But as long as there isn’t another terrorist attack, it will be hard to keep troops there,” Lawrence said.

According to Paris’ Web site at http://socsci.edu/~parisr/Iraq.htm, the record of the United States and the Bush administration concerning the reconstruction of Afghanistan, thus far is not favorable. When the United States launched its campaign in Afghanistan, it set out to give the people “representative government” and “peace and stability” to the country.

“There has been little progress toward these goals. Despotic warlords remain in control of nearly the entire country, including local police and security forces,” Paris stated on his Web site.

Paris, who is also the author of an upcoming book “At War’s End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict,” believes that the United States and the Bush administration may have the same problem in Iraq as in Afghanistan

“My concern is the U.S. will cut and run after the first elections in Iraq, which will probably happen in the next year or two, and that just isn’t enough time,” Paris said.

However, Lawrence believes that another aspect of the post-war Iraq is beginning to occur. Other countries in the region have been given a demonstration of the military power of the United States.

“A shock wave from Gulf War 1, Kosovo and this (Iraq war) has gone over the world saying if you are going to tango with the U.S., you better think it over carefully,” Lawrence said.

He also believes feelings in the United States have changed.

“Another different shock wave hit the U.S., and that is (that) we believe we are becoming omnipotent. Easy victories over relatively incompetent armies can lead to the U.S. becoming overextended,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the United States feels democracy is the answer to many of the world’s problems.

“We are a missionary people. We feel that we are the last best hope for mankind. The Bush administration believes that democracy in Iraq will domino effect throughout the region,” Lawrence said.

John Krattenmaker, a junior restaurant and resort management major, believes that the United States is doing good things.

“I think that we are accomplishing a lot right now in Iraq after the war has ended. I just hope that all of our troops come home safely,” he said.

Lawrence reminds us though that the United States has always been prominent in the same issues throughout history.

“The missionary zeal runs deep in U.S. history. It used to be called Manifest Destiny in the 1800’s,” Lawrence said. In addition, Lawrence says that there can be areas of trouble ahead.

“The U.S. is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. After such an impressive victory we could believe that we are more powerful that we really are,” he said

Outbox:

For more information on the reconstruction of Iraq, Paris suggests visting:

www.slate.com

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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