- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday set out 13 U.S. principles for turning Iraq from a Ba’athist tyranny into a free-market democracy.

With the American occupation in a bumpy second month, the defense secretary also sent a clear warning to Iran’s Islamist regime, saying the military coalition will stamp out any sign of a Tehran-style theocracy taking hold in Baghdad.

“Iran should be on notice that efforts to try to remake Iraq in Iran’s image will be aggressively put down,” Mr. Rumsfeld said in a major policy speech before members of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Iran, one of President Bush’s “axis of evil” states, has sent agents into Iraq to stir up Iraqi Shi’ite resentment in the south against the American occupiers. Tehran is also a U.S.-designated sponsor of terrorism and is suspected of supporting al Qaeda’s deadly May 12 bombings in Riyadh.

Mr. Rumsfeld seemed to be preparing the American public for a long military stay in Iraq. Instead of playing down lawlessness and looting, as he did after Baghdad fell April 9, he acknowledged that the disorder is problematic but not unexpected.

“The transition to democracy will take time,” he told the influential group of government and business leaders. “It will not be a smooth road.”

He said one of the Bush administration’s 13 principles is that “the coalition will maintain as many security forces in Iraq as is necessary and will keep them there for as long as is necessary.”

There are about 150,000 American ground forces in Iraq, with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, the 4th Infantry Division in northern Iraq and 40,000 Marines in the south. The Marines are leaving in stages and should be out of the Persian Gulf region by August. Meanwhile, the 1st Armored Division in Germany is moving units into Iraq as extra military police arrive.

Mr. Rumsfeld said some Iraqi soldiers who quit the battlefield rather than fight are engaged in guerrilla attacks on American soldiers. “Many of the regime’s enforcers are still at large,” he said.

Among the key components of the principles for Iraqi home rule:

• For now, U.S. diplomat L. Paul Bremer and his provisional authority will run Iraq.

• U.S. forces will impose security and restore water, electricity and other basic services. Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged that an errant allied bomb or bombs might have damaged Baghdad’s electrical grid. Military and Bechtel Corp. engineers are “having trouble getting back to a circumstance that would be considered better than prior to this most recent conflict,” he said.

cGovernment ministries will be staffed by Iraqis, excluding senior officials from Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party. Of the 55 wanted Iraqis, 26 are in allied custody and being interrogated by the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and other authorities. About 200 senior members of Saddam’s regime have been captured.

cMr. Bremer will nurture a market economy by rebuilding Iraq’s lucrative oil industry and shifting state-owned businesses to the private sector.

cRebuilding contracts will go mostly to companies that employ Iraqi workers and come from countries that supported the U.S.-led military action. This principle seems to rule out such nations as France and Russia from winning major contracts.

Senior Bush administration aides are questioned daily on why inspectors have yet to turn up weapons of mass destruction, President Bush’s principal reason for going to war to oust Saddam.

Mr. Rumsfeld fielded the question yesterday from a former newspaper foreign correspondent. Mr. Rumsfeld gave his standard answer: The United States needs time to have recently arriving teams check hundreds of hiding places.

“We do know that they bury things,” he said. “They bury things all over the country. They have buried airplanes. They have buried tanks. They have buried weapons.”

He said the CIA has assessed two seized trailers as being mobile biological laboratories, a finding that supports Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s prewar presentation to the Security Council at the United Nations.

“They’re still doing investigations and checking them out, but at the moment, that’s the current evaluation of the investigators,” he said.

Asked why Iraqi Republican Guard units never unleashed chemical weapons on Americans advancing on Baghdad, the defense secretary said it is “possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict.”

Mr. Rumsfeld likened Baghdad’s chaos to the United States’ struggle to gain democracy more than 200 years ago.

“Just as it took time and patience, trial and error and years of hard work before the founders got it right, so, too, it will take time and patience and trial and error and hard work for the Iraqi people to try to overcome the challenges that they face,” he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s flight from Andrews Air Force Base to New York was delayed by a minor traffic accident in his motorcade.

A car that appeared to have spun out of control bumped Mr. Rumsfeld’s sedan.

No one was injured, and the defense chief went on to Andrews in another vehicle, Reuters news agency reported.

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