Cornyn Addresses AEI On "Progress And Peril In Postwar Iraq"

In: All News   Posted 06/10/2003

WASHINGTON — A constitution, the rule of law and an independent judiciary are prerequisites to establishing freedom and democracy in Iraq, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute Tuesday. "It is not up to us to determine the precise form of Iraq’s new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet we must ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another, or that Iraq becomes a theocracy where freedom of religion and equal rights for women are outlawed,” Cornyn said. "Working with the civilized world, we must insist in the establishment of what UN resolution 1483, unanimously adopted by the Security Council on May 22, calls ‘a representative government based on the rule of law that affords equal rights and justice to all Iraqi citizens, without regard to ethnicity, religion, or gender.’ The Iraqi people must be recognized as sovereign, and all citizens must enjoy basic human rights.” Cornyn also announced that he will hold joint hearings on post-war Iraq in the subcommittee on the Constitution in conjunction with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later in June. Following Cornyn’s speech, a panel of experts discussed post-Saddam Iraq, including security arrangements and the economy, rule of law and reconstruction efforts. The experts included Feisal Istrabadi, trial lawyer and Iraqi activist; Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service; Hassan Mneimneh, Iraq Research and Documentation Project; and Danielle Pletka, AEI.-- Following is the text of Senator Cornyn’s speech as prepared --THE RULE OF LAW AND THE FOUNDATION OF IRAQI FREEDOM U.S. SENATOR JOHN CORNYN AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE JUNE 10, 2003Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to thank the American Enterprise Institute for organizing this event, and for playing such a critical role in fostering intelligent discussion and debate concerning Iraq and the war against terror. I’m also glad to deliver my maiden AEI speech today. I’m thankful for this first invitation, and I hope I don’t say anything that will make it my last. While I’ve only been in Washington for a short time, I am already learning how this town works. I’ve learned why politicians sometimes avoid visiting think-tanks – lest they be confronted with the uncomfortable job of actually thinking, which is always hard work. and I’ve learned what hell may feel like for a former judge – to stand on the floor of the Senate and realize you are in a room filled with lawyers, with no way to get them to be quiet. I come before you today not as a scholar of international relations, but as a student of the rule of law, to say a few words about how the lessons of history and human nature can help America from being mugged by the reality of a post-war Iraq. I wish that I could say it is a pleasant reality, but that would be false. The truth is not as grim as the picture painted daily by The New York Times – few things are – but it is still chaotic. Today, Iraq is rife with ethnic conflict, looting, and roving bands of armed street thugs. Yet even this temporary disorder is preferable to the brutal and bloody rule of Saddam Hussein. I was struck by a comment I heard recently at a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague, where a representative from Estonia recalled Spinoza’s admonition that peace is not merely the absence of war, and reminded us that: “Peace, for those living under repressive regimes, has been far more bloody than war.” to understand the full measure of Saddam Hussein’s cruel and inhumane regime, you need look no further than the mass graves, the torture chambers, and the packed prisons of Baghdad. In his hellish gulag of stone and iron, Saddam’s political opponents and their families – old and young alike – were unjustly imprisoned, viciously abused, and murdered. I join with all freedom loving people in gratitude that the military conflict in Iraq reached a swift end, with relatively few coalition lives lost. And because of the efforts of our brave men and women on the ground and the leaders of the coalition forces, the Iraqi people today are free from Saddam. But they are not yet free from fear. While some are fixated on the short-term gratification of an immediate discovery of weapons of mass destruction, I believe rebuilding a democratic Iraq presents the greater challenge. And we must take the long view. the current unstable situation is, at least in part, an unintended by-product of the speed and efficiency of our military forces. Never before has the world witnessed such a marvel of technology, training, dedication, and leadership in war. And unlike other countries that we have successfully nurtured to democracy following a war, there was relatively little time to plan for the all-important aftermath. Hindsight is 20-20. But we must now look forward to a reconstruction of Iraq, one in which we can demonstrate that the victories won, the lives risked and lost, and the heartache of proud but grieving families – will not be in vain. Freedom from fear continues to be our challenge in Iraq. The world is watching, and the risks we face are enormous. Unless the United States and our coalition partners act forcefully and decisively, the idea of Iraqi self-government may be recalled, years from now, as nothing more than a fleeting dream. That aspiration of the Iraqi people may seem far off today, but as John Adams aptly noted, “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.” SECURITY First, we must ensure the basic security of the Iraqi people. Iraqis must be able to go to the market without fearing armed robbers or kidnapping. They must be able to worship without fearing snipers or skirmishes. Their children must be able to go to school without hearing the sounds of gunfire. we must eliminate the remnants of the Baathist party, the armed gangs of militants, and the common criminals who control the streets and highways. We must end the looting, and restore the property rights of the Iraqi people. We cannot construct the foundation of a peaceful and just society when lawlessness still reins in Iraq. Dr. Karim Hassan, director general of Iraq's electricity commission, recently put it this way: “Give me security, and I'll give you electricity.” Currently, the only thing preventing the outbreak of conflict between Iraq’s rival ethnic and religious groups is coalition military forces. But this stopgap is no substitute for a long-term solution. The Iraqi people must learn to govern themselves. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the police were merely shock troops doing the dictator’s bidding. A new police force must earn the complete confidence of those who were formerly dominated and abused. Iraq looks like the Old West right now, and we need lawmen to restore the peace and protect the populace. The Texas Rangers have a saying: “One riot, one Ranger.” But Iraq will need more than one Texas Ranger – it will need a substantial, professional, civilian police force. we shouldn’t underestimate the sheer scope of this need. In Kosovo, there are more than 4,400 UN police officers assigned to a population of two million people. That same ratio for Iraq’s 24 million people would require a police force of nearly 53,000 – and probably more, considering that Iraq is the size of California. we can harbor no illusions: the current occupation will not, and should not, be brief. While the Administration understandably wants to return Iraq to the Iraqi people as soon as possible, this well-intentioned desire will likely backfire. Iraqis still remember what happened after the Gulf War in 1991, when UN troops pulled out after encouraging a civilian uprising, only to have thousands of rebels crushed and slaughtered by Saddam. Enemies of democracy in Iraq, both inside and outside of the country, will exploit any short-lived commitment. As we seek to make Iraq secure, we must also be on guard in a dangerous neighbor