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Postwar in Iraq: True to the mission ...

| Tuesday, April 22, 2003

A new chapter opened for Iraq Monday with the arrival of its postwar administrator. Among priorities facing retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jay Garner will be to restore vital basic services, such as electricity, and, over time, to achieve that which has not previously existed in this culture of confinement: basic human rights.

"We will help you, but it is going to take time," Garner told doctors at Baghdad's Yarmuk hospital.

The optimistic outlook is that it will take years to achieve Iraq's self-governance. For good reason, the transition from so many decades of darkness into light must be carefully orchestrated.

Indeed, a long, difficult journey awaits. But as with any journey, it begins with that all-important first step.

Meanwhile, the sophists of foreign policy -- the same folks who insisted that Saddam Hussein should be coddled, not confronted -- are yammering that there has been no recovery of weapons of mass destruction -- in effect, no smoking gun for war.

What's absent is their credibility. In a nation the size of California, it may take a year or longer to locate and fully assess Saddam's arsenal of death, experts say.

Oh, and there's this dispatch yesterday from none other than the anti-war New York Times: An Iraqi scientist who said he worked on Saddam's chemical weapons told investigators that Iraq buried and destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment in the days prior to war. He also reportedly led Americans to some of the suspect material.

Moreover, the scientist said Iraq was indeed cooperating with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, and that Saddam stockpiled deadly chemicals in Syria in the mid-1990s.

It will take time, but eventually all of Saddam's evil pursuits will be uncovered -- just as Iraq's self-government will emerge from the wreckage of his regime.

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