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Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan Security and Reconstruction Act, 2004

Location: Washington, DC

PAGE S12643
Oct. 16, 2003

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan Security and Reconstruction Act, 2004

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, 6 months ago, President Bush took the country to war with Iraq, without the support of key allies other than Britain, without the support of the international community at large. We didn't need international support to win the war. We all knew that our brave fighting men and women would defeat Saddam Hussein's forces easily. But we did—and we do—need the international community to help us win the peace—a painfully obvious truth that this administration has steadfastly refused to accept.

As long as Iraqis see us as occupiers rather than liberators, our troops will remain at increased risk and our efforts to rebuild Iraq's economy and political system will be suspect. The process of reconstructing Iraq and creating a new Iraqi government must be an international process—not an American process. Only then will it gain full legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi
people and the world.

The Bush administration's brazen go-it-alone policy has placed the burden and the bill for rebuilding Iraq almost solely on the shoulders of the American people. They don't deserve it, and they don't want it. We need an immediate change of course.

For months I have been urging the administration to bring the United Nations and the international community into the process of rebuilding Iraq's economy and political system. The United Nations must be given a clearly defined, central role in the reconstruction of Iraq and in the process of establishing a new Iraqi government. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been very clear: he will not send U.N. personnel back to Iraq—and risk their lives—without improvements in the security situation and an unambiguous U.N. role with clear lines of authority. In my view, the best way to achieve this is to transfer the authority over reconstruction and governance to the United Nations. The United Nations is not perfect but it has far more experience and capacity in these areas than the Pentagon and the Coalition Provisional Authority. Finally, the Iraqi people must be assured that political power and responsibility for reconstruction will be transferred to them quickly.

The administration's resolution, which the Security Council passed today, is long overdue. It will provide a modicum of international legitimacy which is essential to our success in Iraq. And it does require that the Iraqi Governing Council lay out by December 15 of this year a timetable and program for the drafting of a constitution and national elections. But this resolution does not fundamentally change the lines of authority and responsibility for the reconstruction and governance of Iraq. It is really more show than substance. The resolution will not gain meaningful international support for our efforts in Iraq. After months of dismissing and ridiculing the international community, the Bush administration will not gain tangible support for our efforts in Iraq—that is, boots on the ground and money in the coffers at this month's donor conference—as a result of this resolution.

In simply terms, the Security Council resolution adopted today is not the triumph of diplomacy, but rather the beginning of a much-needed process to bring real international support to our effort.

We in the Congress have a responsibility to push the administration to advance the diplomatic effort and not rest content with a fig leaf resolution that hides what remains an American occupation in Iraq. The amendment that Senator BYRD is offering, which I am pleased to cosponsor, seeks to do just that. It requires the President to certify that the U.N. resolution provides tangible international contributions, including substantial troop and financial contributions from other countries. In addition, it requires the administration to certify that reconstruction activities are being implemented in accordance with a new detailed plan to be submitted to the Congress no later than March 1 of next year.

This is a good amendment. It sends a clear message to the administration: You need a real, detailed plan for reconstruction Iraq and you need to do the hard work of diplomacy to internationalize the military and civilian sides of the operation to reduce the risks to our soldiers on the ground and take some of the financial burden off the American taxpayer.

I urge my colleagues to support it.

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