- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

DEARBORN, Mich. (Agence France-Presse) Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz assured Iraqis here yesterday that if the United States goes to war in Iraq, it will not be to hand over the country to a "junior Saddam Hussein."
Mr. Wolfowitz was greeted by chants of "Down, Down Saddam" from an Iraqi-American audience in this Detroit suburb that appeared eager for U.S. action in Iraq but dubious about American intentions after a war.
The secretary heard pointed questions about reported plans to install either a U.S. general or a former Iraqi general after the war.
"It's absolutely clear I think to the president … if we're not going to invest the kind of resources, the investment in American lives to liberate Iraq, it's not going to be to hand it over to some junior Saddam Hussein," he said.
He said the job of securing the country after the war repairing critical infrastructure or putting out oil fires if wells are set alight by the regime probably would fall to the U.S. military.
But he insisted the United States has no desire to stay any longer than necessary, and urged Iraqis to think about how to build conditions for representative democracy after the war.
"The key to getting us out quickly is for the Iraqis to come together in the spirit of unity, and harmony and understanding," he said.
An American general would run the country in the immediate aftermath of the war, U.S. officials have said.
But reports this week said a prominent U.S. civilian likely would be put in charge to lead a transition to some form of representative government.
Several members of the audience warned there would be little support for that here.
Emad Dhia, the outgoing president of the Iraqi-American Forum for Democracy, which hosted the event, likened it to "Saddam without a mustache."
Another member of the audience called for creating a body of Iraqi technocrats with no political ambitions to establish conditions for democratic rule in Baghdad.
"This is something that we as Iraqis need to put together not an American general," the man said.
In a question-and-answer session at a conference facility here belonging to Ford Motor Co., members of the audience came forward with stories about massacres and executed members of their extended families.
"We are willing to work for democracy," said one. "So please, please, take it seriously as we want it fast, as fast as you can."
Mr. Wolfowitz said there was still a small chance that war could be averted, but said time was running out quickly.
"In my view there is a very, very small chance that Saddam will actually comply with the resolutions of the United Nations," he said, adding that there was a "slightly greater chance" that the Iraqi president would leave the country.


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