Now that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has been toppled, U.S. Congressional leaders predict it could take years to rebuild Iraq and establish a functioning democracy there.
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar said it is not known what it will cost to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and help put in place the reforms that will lead to a democratically elected government.
But he said Americans must be prepared for a long-term commitment in Iraq. "We have to be committed to that, and understand as a people in this country that this is a very substantial investment, but one that I believe that we should be committed to make. I would think, at least, we ought to be thinking of a period of five years of time, now that may be understate it," Mr. Lugar said.
Senator Lugar made his comments on the U.S. television program NBC's Meet the Press.
Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Forces Committee, said it will be necessary to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for an extended period. Senator Bayh appeared on the television program Fox News Sunday "We're going to have to be there for awhile, not permanently, but for awhile. Because we don't want to win the war and lose the peace," he said.
Senator Bayh thinks military forces will have to maintain a presence until some stability is established in Iraq.
Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi, who heads the Iraqi National Congress, told the ABC news program, This Week that the U.S. military should stay in Iraq until democratic elections, a process he says could take two years. Mr. Chalabi has arrived in Baghdad and says he is ready to help rebuild his country, but not to participate in any U.S.-led interim authority.