Thank you Dr. Fukuyama for that generous
Im honored to be here at the School of Advanced International Studies.
Many of the most talented individuals in foreign policy have benefited from
your outstanding graduate program, and I welcome the opportunity to meet
with you on the issue of Iraq.
Forty years ago, America was in another war
in a distant land. At that time, in 1965, we had in Vietnam the same
number of troops and the same number of casualties as in
We thought in those early days in Vietnam
that we were winning. We thought the skill and courage of our troops
was enough. We thought that victory on the battlefield would lead
to victory in the war, and peace and democracy for the people of Vietnam.
We lost our national purpose in Vietnam.
We abandoned the truth. We failed our ideals. The words of our
leaders could no longer be trusted.
In the name of a misguided cause, we continued
the war too long. We failed to comprehend the events around us.
We did not understand that our very presence was creating new enemies and
defeating the very goals we set out to achieve. We cannot allow that
history to repeat itself in Iraq.
We must learn from our mistakes. We must
recognize what a large and growing number of Iraqis now believe. The
war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation.
We have reached the point that a prolonged
American military presence in Iraq is no longer productive for either Iraq
or the United States. The U.S. military presence has become
part of the problem, not part of the solution.
We need a serious course correction, and
we need it now. We must make it for the American soldiers who are
paying with their lives. We must make it for the American people who cannot
afford to spend our resources and national prestige protracting the war
in the wrong way. We must make it for the sake of the Iraqi people who yearn
for a country that is not a permanent battlefield and for a future free
from permanent occupation.
The elections in Iraq this weekend provide
an opportunity for a fresh and honest approach. We need a new plan
that sets fair and realistic goals for self-government in Iraq, and works
with the Iraqi government on a specific timetable for the honorable homecoming
of our forces.
The first step is to confront our own mistakes.
Americans are rightly concerned about why our 157,000 soldiers are there
-- when they will come home -- and how our policy could have gone so wrong.
No matter how many times the Administration
denies it, there is no question they misled the nation and led us into a
quagmire in Iraq. President Bush rushed to war on the basis of trumped
up intelligence and a reckless argument that Iraq was a critical arena in
the global war on terror, that somehow it was more important to start a
war with Iraq than to finish the war in Afghanistan and capture Osama bin
Laden, and that somehow the danger was so urgent that the U.N. weapons inspectors
could not be allowed time to complete their search for weapons of mass destruction.
As in Vietnam, truth was the first casualty
of this war. Nearly 1400 Americans have died. More than 10,000
have been wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children
have been killed. The weapons of mass destruction werent there, but
today 157,000 Americans are.
As a result of our actions in Iraq, our respect
and credibility around the world have reached all-time lows. The President
bungled the pre-war diplomacy on Iraq and wounded our alliances. The label
coalition of the willing cannot conceal the fact that American soldiers
make up 80% of the troops on the ground in Iraq and more than 90% of the
The Administration also failed to prepare
for the aftermath of victory and so the post-war period became a new
war, with more casualties, astronomical costs, and relentless insurgent
The Administration failed to establish a
basic level of law and order after Baghdad fell, and so massive looting
The Administration dissolved the Iraqi army
and dismissed its troops, but left their weapons intact and their ammunition
dumps unguarded, and they have become arsenals of the insurgency.
The Administration relied for advice on self-promoting
Iraqi exiles who were out of touch with the Iraqi people and resented by
them and the result is an America regarded as occupier, not as liberator.
The President recklessly declared Mission
Accomplished when in truth the mission had barely begun. He and his advisors
predicted and even bragged that the war would be a cakewalk, but the expected
welcoming garlands of roses became an endless bed of thorns.
The Administration told us the financial
costs would be paid with Iraqi oil dollars, but it is being paid with billions
of American tax dollars. Another $80 billion bill for the black hole
that Iraq has become has just been handed to the American people.
The cost is also being paid in shame and
stain on Americas good name as a beacon of human rights. Nothing is more
at odds with our values as Americans than the torture of another human being.
Do you think that any Americans tell their children with pride that America
tortures prisoners? Yet, high officials in the Administration in their
arrogance strayed so far from our heritage and our belief in fundamental
human decency that they approved the use of tortureand they were wrong,
deeply wrong, to do that.
The Administrations willful disregard of
the Geneva Conventions led to the torture and flagrant abuse of the prisoners
at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and that degradation has diminished America
in the eyes of the whole world. It has diminished our moral
voice on the planet.
Never in our history has there been a more
powerful, more painful example of the saying that those who do not learn
from history are condemned to repeat it.
The tide of history rises squarely against
military occupation. We ignore this truth at our peril in Iraq.
The nations in the Middle East are independent,
except for Iraq, which began the 20th century under Ottoman occupation and
is now beginning the 21st century under American occupation.
Iraq could very well be another Algeria,
where the French won the military battle for Algiers, but ultimately lost
the political battle for Algeria. Despite the clear lesson of history,
the President stubbornly clings to the false hope that the turning point
is just around the corner.
The ending of the rule of Saddam Hussein
was supposed to lessen violence and bring an irresistible wave of democracy
to the Middle East. It hasnt. Saddam Husseins capture was supposed to quell
the violence. It didnt. The transfer of sovereignty was supposed
to be the breakthrough. It wasnt. The military operation in
Fallujah was supposed to break the back of the insurgency. It didnt.
The 1400 Americans killed in Iraq and the
10,000 American casualties are the equivalent of a full division of our
Army and we only have ten active divisions.
The tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians
killed last year included nearly a thousand members of the new Iraqi security
forces, and a hundred more have been lost this year. The recent killing
of a senior Iraqi judge was the 170th assassination of an Iraqi official
since June of 2003.
We all hope for the best from Sundays election.
The Iraqis have a right to determine their own future. But Sundays
election is not a cure for the violence and instability. Unless
the Sunni and all the other communities in
Iraq believe they have a stake in the outcome and a genuine role in drafting
the new Iraqi constitution, the election could lead to greater alienation,
greater escalation, and greater death for us and for the Iraqis.
In fact, the Central Intelligence Agencys
top official in Baghdad warned recently that the security situation is deteriorating
and is likely to worsen, with escalating violence and more sectarian clashes.
How could any President have let this happen?
General Brent Scowcroft, who until recently
served as Chairman of President Bushs National Intelligence Advisory Board
and who also served as the first President Bushs National Security Adviser,
recently warned of an incipient civil war in Iraq. He said, the
[Iraqi] elections are turning out to be less about a promising transformation,
and it has great potential for deepening the conflict.
President Bushs Iraq policy is not, as he
said during last falls campaign, a catastrophic success. It is
a catastrophic failure. The men and women of our armed forces are serving
honorably and with great courage under extreme conditions, but their indefinite
presence is fanning the flames of conflict.
The American people are concerned.
They recognize that the war with Iraq is not worth the cost in American
lives, prestige, and credibility. They understand that this
misbegotten war has made America more hated in the world, created new breeding
grounds and support for terrorists, and made it harder to win the real war
against terrorism the war against Al Qaeda and radical jihadist terrorists.
Conservative voices are alarmed as well.
As Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation, said last November,
we are stuck in a guerrilla war with no end in sight.
As former Coalition Provisional Authority
adviser Larry Diamond recently said, There is a fine line between Churchillian
resolve and self-defeating obstinacy. We must recognize that line and end
the obstinate policy of the Administration.
A new Iraq policy must begin with acceptance
of hard truths. Most of the violence in Iraq is not being perpetrated
as President Bush has claimed by a handful of folks that fear freedom
and people who want to try to impose their will on people
just like Osama
The war has made Iraq a magnet for terrorism
that wasnt there before. President Bush has opened an unnecessary
new front in the war on terror, and we are losing ground because of it.
The CIAs own National Intelligence Council confirmed this assessment in
its report two weeks ago.
The insurgency is not primarily driven by
foreign terrorists. General Abizaid, head of our Central Command,
said last September, I think the number of foreign fighters in Iraq is
probably below 1,000
. According to the Department of Defense, less than
two percent of all the detainees in Iraq are foreign nationals.
The insurgency is largely home-grown.
By our own governments own count, its ranks are large and growing larger.
Its strength has quadrupled since the transfer of sovereignty six months
ago from 5,000 in mid-2004, to 16,000 last October, to more than 20,000
now. The Iraqi intelligence service estimates that the insurgency
may have 30,000 fighters and up to 200,000 supporters. Its clear
that we dont know how large the insurgency is. All we can say with
certainty is that the insurgency is growing.
It is also becoming more intense and adaptable.
The bombs are bigger and more powerful. The attacks have greater sophistication.
Anthony Cordesman, the national security
analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently
wrote: There is no evidence that the number of insurgents is declining
as a result of Coalition and Iraqi attacks to date.
An Army Reservist wrote the stark truth:
The guerillas are filling their losses faster than we can create them
For every guerilla we kill with a smart bomb, we kill many more innocent
civilians and create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage
and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support
for us. Our troops understand that. The American people understand
it. And its time the Administration understand it.
Beyond the insurgencys numbers, it has popular
and tacit support from thousands of ordinary Iraqis who are aiding and abetting
the attacks as a rejection of the American occupation. It is fueled
by the anger of ever-larger numbers of Iraqis not just Saddam loyalists
- who have concluded that the United States is either unable or
unwilling to provide basic security, jobs, water, electricity and
Anti-American sentiment is steadily rising.
CDs that picture the insurrection have spread across the country.
Songs glorify combatants. Poems written decades ago during the British
occupation after World War I are popular again.
The International Crisis Group, a widely
respected conflict prevention organization, recently reported, These
post-war failings gradually were perceived by many Iraqis as purposeful,
designed to serve Washingtons interests to remain for a prolonged period
in a debilitated Iraq.
We have the finest military in the world.
But we cannot rely primarily on military action to end politically inspired
violence. We cant defeat the insurgents militarily if we dont effectively
address the political context in which the insurgency flourishes.
Our military and the insurgents are fighting for the same thing the hearts
and minds of the people and that is a battle we are not winning.
The beginning of wisdom in this crisis is
to define honest and realistic goals.
First, the goal of our military presence
should be to allow the creation of a legitimate, functioning Iraqi government,
not to dictate it.
Creating a full-fledged democracy wont happen
overnight. We can and must make progress, but it may take many years
for the Iraqis to finish the job. We have to adjust our time horizon.
The process cannot begin in earnest until Iraqis have full ownership of
that transition. Our continued, overwhelming presence only delays
If we want Iraq to develop a stable, democratic
government, America must assist -- not control -- the newly established
Unless Iraqis have a genuine sense that their
leaders are not our puppets, the election cannot be the turning point the
To enhance its legitimacy in the eyes of
the Iraqi people, the new Iraqi Government should begin to disengage politically
from America, and we from them.
The reality is that the Bush Administration
is continuing to pull the strings in Iraq, and the Iraqi people know it.
We picked the date for the transfer of sovereignty. We supported
former CIA operative Iyad Allawi to lead the Interim Government. We
wrote the administrative law and the interim constitution that now governs
Iraq. We set the date for the election, and President Bush insisted that
it take place, even when many Iraqis sought delay.
It is time to recognize that there is only
one choice. America must give Iraq back to the Iraqi people.
We need to let the Iraqi people make their
own decisions, reach their own consensus, and govern their own country.
We need to rethink the Pottery Barn rule.
America cannot forever be the potter that sculpts Iraqs future. President
Bush broke Iraq, but if we want Iraq to be fixed, the Iraqis must feel that
they, not we, own it.
The Iraqi people are facing historic issuesthe
establishment of a government, the role of Islam, and the protection of
The United States and the international community
have a clear interest in a strong, tolerant and pluralistic Iraq, free from
chaos and civil war.
The United Nations, not the United States,
should provide assistance and advice on establishing a system of government
and drafting a constitution. An international meeting led
by the United Nations and the new Iraqi Government -- should be convened
immediately in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East to begin that process.
For our part, America must accept that the
Shiites will be the majority in whatever government emerges. Sixty
percent of the population in Iraq is Shiite, and a Shiite majority is the
logical outcome of a democratic process in Iraq.
But the Shiites must understand that Iraqs
stability and security will be achieved only by safeguarding minority rights.
The door to drafting the Constitution and to serving in government must
be left open -- even to those who were unwilling or unable or too terrified
to participate in the elections.
The Shiites must also understand that Americas
support is not open-ended and that Americas role is not to defend an Iraqi
government that excludes or marginalizes important sectors of Iraqi society.
It is far too dangerous for the American military to take sides in a civil
America must adjust to the reality that not
all former Baathists will be excluded from Iraqi political life in the new
Iraq. After the Iron Curtain fell in the Soviet Union and Eastern
Europe, many former communists went on to participate in the political process.
The current Polish President a strong ally of President Bush in Iraq
is a former active member of the Communist Party who served under
Polands martial law government during the 1980s. If communists can change
in this way, there is no reason why some former members of the Baath party
cannot do so.
If Iraqis wish to negotiate with insurgents
who are willing to renounce their violence and join the political process,
we should let them do so. Persuading Sunni insurgents to use
the ballot, not the bullet, serves the interests of the Shiites too.
Second, for democracy to take root, the Iraqis
need a clear signal that America has a genuine exit strategy.
The Iraqi people do not believe that America
intends no long-term military presence in their country. Our reluctance
to make that clear has fueled suspicions among Iraqis that our motives are
not pure, that we want their oil, and that we will never leave. As
long as our presence seems ongoing, Americas commitment to their democracy
The President should do more to make it clear
that America intends no long-term presence. He should disavow the
permanence of our so-called enduring military bases in Iraq.
He should announce that America will dramatically reduce the size of the
American Embassy -- the largest in the world.
Once the elections are behind us and the
democratic transition is under way, President Bush should immediately announce
his intention to negotiate a timetable for a drawdown of American combat
forces with the new Iraqi Government.
At least 12,000 American troops and probably
more should leave at once, to send a stronger signal about our intentions
and to ease the pervasive sense of occupation.
As Major General William Nash, who commanded
the multinational force in Bosnia, said in November, a substantial reduction
in our forces following the Iraqi election would be a wise and judicious
move to demonstrate that we are leaving and the absence of targets will
go a long way in decreasing the violence."
Americas goal should be to complete our
military withdrawal as early as possible in 2006.
President Bush cannot avoid this issue. The
Security Council Resolution authorizing our military presence in Iraq can
be reviewed at any time at the request of the Iraqi Government, and it calls
for a review in June. The U.N. authorization for our military
presence ends with the election of a permanent Iraqi government at the end
of this year. The world will be our judge. We must have
an exit plan in force by then.
While American troops are drawing down, we
must clearly be prepared to oppose any external intervention in Iraq or
the large-scale revenge killing of any group. We should begin now to conduct
serious regional diplomacy with the Arab League and Iraqs neighbors to
underscore this point, and we will need to maintain troops on bases outside
Iraq but in the region.
The United Nations could send a stabilization
force to Iraq if it is necessary and requested by the Iraqi government.
But any stabilization force must be sought by the Iraqis and approved by
the United Nations, with a clear and achievable mission and clear rules
of engagement. Unlike the current force, it should not consist mostly
of Americans or be led by Americans. All nations of the world
have an interest in Iraqs stability and territorial integrity.
Finally, we need to train and equip an effective
Iraqi security force. We have a year to do so before the election
of the permanent Iraqi government.
The current training program is in deep trouble,
and Iraqi forces are far from being capable, committed, and effective.
In too many cases, they cannot even defend themselves, and have fled at
the first sign of battle.
It is not enough to tell usas the Administration
hashow many Iraqis go through training. The problem is not
merely the numbers. The essential question is how many are prepared
to give their lives if necessary, for a future of freedom for their country.
The insurgents have been skilled at recruiting
Iraqis to participate in suicide attacks. But too often, the trained
Iraqi forces do not have a comparable commitment to the Iraqi government.
Recruits are ambivalent about America, unsure of the political transition,
and skeptical about the credibility of their military and political institutions.
The way to strengthen their allegiance is to give them a worthy cause to
defend as soon as possible a truly free, independent and sovereign Iraq.
We now have no choice but to make the best
we can of the disaster we have created in Iraq. The current course is only
making the crisis worse. We need to define our objective realistically
and redefine both our political and our military presence.