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Rebuilding Iraq 'A Mammoth Task' Says Former US Diplomat - 2003-05-28


As the United States struggles to bring democracy to Iraq, a former senior State Department official says it is not a job the Bush administration can tackle alone.

Ambassador Edward Walker told the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington Tuesday the Bush administration should bring the United Nations and non-governmental organizations into the nation-building process in Iraq.

"There are others who are capable of doing this kind of thing and we ought to be asking them to pitch in now and to take up the slack rather than trying to pretend to do it on our own," he said.

He stressed that it is a mammoth task to rebuild Iraq after 30 years of Saddam Hussein's mismanagement and brutal dictatorship.

Mr. Walker, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs under the Clinton and Bush administrations, helped formulate U.S. policy in the region.

He emphasized that rebuilding Iraq should be a collective venture. "We need to move towards greater international engagement and stop trying to pretend that we can answer all the problems of the world," he said.

According to Ambassador Walker says the United States will eventually have no choice but to involve others in helping move Iraq to democracy. He said because of the enormous cost, the rebuilding of Iraq may well become an issue in next year's U.S. presidential race.

"I don't know how long the American people will agree to sustain the current level of effort in Iraq once the reserve forces have been there another year and the expenditures continue to mount," he said.

The White House has changed the management of the rebuilding team, and says Iraqi civilian control over Baghdad and other cities is increasing and normal life is starting to return.

But Ambassador Walker says it would be a lot easier to manage post-war Iraq if the White House had international support from the very beginning.