- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) — As the world watches and waits to see whether the United States will declare war on Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Friday skipped ahead to outline his vision for Iraq after the war is won.

"If the United States were to lead an international coalition in Iraq, we would be guided by two commitments: to stay as long as necessary; and to leave as soon as possible," he said during a speech on the USS Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier permanently docked as a museum in Manhattan.

Offering Afghanistan as a model for U.S. behavior after hostilities, Rumsfeld described U.S. intentions to be peaceful and constructive, attempting to liberate Iraqis from President Saddam Hussein and put them in control of their government.

"The goal would not be to impose an American-style template on Iraq, but rather to create conditions where Iraqis can form a government in their own unique way," he said.

"From the outset of the war (in Afghanistan), our guiding principle has been that Afghanistan belongs to the Afghans. The United States does not aspire to own it. Or run it."

The Pentagon plans to install a U.S. general to administer Iraq during what is expected to be a two-year occupation, senior government officials told Congress this week. During that time, Iraqis would be called upon to help draft a new constitution, revise the country's laws and help administer the government.

"We will demonstrate to the Iraqi people and the world that the United States wants to liberate, not occupy or control their economic resources," Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said Tuesday in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rumsfeld did not mention the military occupation, focusing instead on the establishment of a new government in Baghdad free of weapons of mass destruction, one that does not threaten its neighbors and does respect the rights of minorities in the country.

Rumsfeld has selected retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner to head the Post-War Planning Office in the Pentagon, he said last month.

He contrasted the U.S. approach to Iraq and Afghanistan with harsh criticism for the United Nation's "nation-building" approach to Kosovo, "where a driver shuttling international workers around the capital earns 10 times the salary of a university professor."

"This is what has happened in a number of places with a large foreign presence. Economies remain unreformed, distorted and dependent. Educated young people make more money as drivers for foreign worker than as doctors or civil servants," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld also renewed U.S. vows not to abandon Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan remains an important ally, not just in the war against terrorism, but in the larger struggle for freedom and moderation in the Muslim world," Rumsfeld said.

The United States has already given $850 million to Afghan reconstruction and has promised another $3.3 billion over the next four years. Rumsfeld said the United States would be leading a new international effort to "bolster the new Afghan government" so it "can provide for security and stability across the country."

"If we succeed Afghans will take hold of their country, develop the institutions of self-government, and reclaim their place as responsible members of the international community. And the world will have a model for a successful transition from devastation to self-reliance," he said, according to an advance copy of his speech.

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