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Iraq needs a statesman, not a strongman

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In a rare speech to a joint session of Congress and in interviews with U.S. and British news media, Dr. [Ayad Allawi] insisted that the insurgency is dissipating and national elections will proceed as planned in late January. "Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time," Dr. Allawi told Congress. Is this how to build a new, democratic Iraq? Is Dr. Allawi creating another authoritarian Iraq? An Iraqi politician bluntly told Western journalists that Dr. Allawi "appeared to be reverting to his roots as a former member of [Saddam Hussein]'s Baath Party, where political dissent was often silenced with the gun." Iraq does not need another autocrat. It already had more than its share of dictators who promised heaven but delivered hell. Dr. Allawi's American benefactors must impress on him the urgent need to build bridges to all Iraqi communities and honor the rule of law. Paying lip service to reconstruction and democracy won't do. A policy of reconciliation must be fully embraced, and all Iraqis must be given a stake in their country's future in order to defeat the brutal insurgency that has caused too many deaths and too much pain and destruction.

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