- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2009


Just as Americans are losing patience with the 8-year-old war in Afghanistan, two former U.S. ambassadors to Iraq are predicting that conflict still has a long way to go before the Washington can really declare “mission accomplished.”

“The Iraq story post-2003. This is still chapter one,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker told an audience at the James A. Baker III Institute at Houston’s Rice University.

“We probably have 37 chapters ahead of us. This is a very long book,” the Houston Chronicle quoted him as saying.

Mr. Crocker, a retired career ambassador, served as the U.S. envoy in Iraq from 2007 to February 2009.

One of his predecessors, John Negroponte, who shared the stage with him, said that any U.S. president should expect that rebuilding a nation will always take longer than expected. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who was long suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction in violation of U.N. resolutions.

“If we, as a nation, decide to get involved in these types of conflicts, we’ve got to understand that they take more time and involve more resources than we ever anticipate to begin with,” said Mr. Negroponte, ambassador in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.

Mr. Crocker agreed.

“These processes take a long time, and no amount of good ideas generated from Washington can be dispatched by FedEx and laid down in a template and made to work,” he said.

Mr. Crocker also noted that terrorists in Iraq appear to be changing their tactics from attacking civilians to targeting government installations.

“They’re directed against the government to show the government as being week, ineffective, unable to govern,” he said.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams, leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, a grass-roots movement of 60,000 Zimbabweans who advocate political rights and legal reform. They hold a 2 p.m. news conference in the National Press Club’s Zenga Room.

Torsten Herbst, a member of the state legislature of Saxony, Germany, and secretary-general of the Saxon Free Democratic Party. He discusses Germany 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in a briefing with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who addresses the General Assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America. Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and member of the Israeli parliament and now chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, also addresses the assembly.

Vice President Francisco Santos of Colombia, who discusses political challenges facing the South American nation in a briefing at the Council of the Americas.

Maria Corina Machado, president of Sumate, a leading civil rights group in Venezuela who spearheaded a petition drive to recall President Hugo Chavez in 2003. She addresses the Cato Institute on the erosion of democratic rights under Mr. Chavez.

Ali Allawi, former Iraqi minister of trade and defense, Sami al Faraj of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies and Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. They participate in a conference sponsored by the Middle East Institute.


Rafael Pardo, the Liberal Party candidate for president of Colombia in the May election and a former defense minister. He addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.


Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick of Liechtenstein.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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