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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Can Bush's Iraq plan work?
George Bush
President Bush has said the US remains committed to creating a democratic Iraq.

In a keynote speech, he said he was taking five "specific steps" to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom.

These include the creation of a sovereign Iraqi government, stabilising security, rebuilding infrastructure, encouraging international support and moving towards free elections. The notorious prison Abu Ghraib will be demolished.
You put your questions to Defence Select Committee member Mike Gapes in an interactive forum

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that "final political control" of coalition forces will rest with the new Iraqi government.

Can Bush's plan for Iraq work? How should Iraq be governed after 30 June? Who should have jurisdiction over the troops?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

This topic was suggested by: Harry Kotzbue from Denmark
Is it meaningful to speak of an "independent" Iraqi government which does not have legal jurisdiction over its troops?

Iraq was a nation built just 70 years ago by the UK, the superpower nation at that time. One look at their map says someone used a ruler while drawing those borders. I don't see why it can't be rebuilt again by the current superpower nation, the US. Bush's plan is the next step. You can't expect a fast solution and that is why things should be done gradually.
Gursoy Akguc, Ankara, Turkey

Bush and Blair will try to maintain the status quo and keep their troops in Iraq, and as long as they keep them there, there will be no peace!
Srinivasan Toft, Humlebæk, Denmark

If the UN Charter can be torn up by the US President, what good is all the talk in this column about the US bringing the "gift of democracy" to Iraq?
Edmund Burke, Kingston upon Thames, UK

I trusted this administration at the beginning but now regret my stupidity and naivety. Those who fed us the lies, deceptions, and hypes, and then planned and executed the invasion, occupation, subjugation, humiliation, torture, and murder of the citizens of an impoverished and defenceless nation on some bogus pretexts are NOT going to leave Iraq on their own. Only the will of the American people and the voice of the international community can help expel Bush and his "advisors" and "partners" from Iraq.
John Harris, Chicago

Perhaps this might work if France, Russia and China stop hijacking the proceedings for their personal agendas.
Graeme Phillips, Berlin, Germany (normally UK)

Bush & Blair have a clear vision for Iraq. They can and will make it work for the betterment of all people in the world.
P. Newt, Payson, AZ USA

There is no two ways about Bush's Iraq Plan: It has to work. The hand-over and the next years have to be stable and if that means the Iraqi Government having a say in what the Coalition Troops do then so be it.
Thomas, Yorkshire, England

The Bush plan is a muddled compromise
William, London, UK
No. The coalition is split between liberal imperialists (do-gooders who want democracy, women's rights, etc) and conservative imperialists (hard cases who want a client state, flow of oil and military bases). The Bush plan is a muddled compromise between these two camps. The result is 'You can have democracy so long as we like what you do'. Both types of imperialist get something out of this, but the Iraqi people are trapped inside an American oxymoron.
William, London, UK

Name any policy dreamed up by this administration that has worked. Some of us were saying two years ago that this ludicrous intervention would backfire badly - what makes people think things will suddenly improve?
Dan, London, UK

The average Iraqi is not prepared for the style of government we wish for them
James, Los Angeles, CA
No, I don't think the plan is a recipe for success. It's not that the plan is wrong is that America's idea that our style of democracy will work all other nations is flawed. The average Iraqi is not prepared for the style of government we wish for them.
James, Los Angeles, CA

Can it work for who?
Hassan, Egypt

Sending in Military forces to Japan & Germany worked in 1945 so why shouldn't it work in Iraq today? Of course Bush's plan can and hopefully will work.
John Legrove, London, UK

Iraq must have sovereignty over itself, over its land and resources before any more countries private companies start flowing in to claim Iraqis oil and energy deposits as its own. Any thing less than full sovereignty is not sovereignty at all.
Liu Chi, China

Auschwitz was not demolished, and I don't think Abu Ghraib should be demolished either. It is important to remember the atrocities and wrongdoings of men, whether it was done by Saddam or the US troops.
Luis, Santiago, Spain

Luis from Spain: Get a grip my friend! Making a comparison between Auschwitz and Abu Ghraib under US control is ridiculous! Although the photographs may not do much to make people proud...it is a far, far cry from what occurred at Auschwitz. By making such a comparison you dishonour the people who suffered in the concentration camps and the untold numbers who never left.
Craig, Chicago, IL

The terrorists want the power for themselves
Tony H, Bristol, UK
The terrorists aren't interested in Iraq being ruled by a "puppet" government. The terrorists want the power for themselves, regardless of what the Iraqi in the street wants.
Tony H, Bristol, UK

The liberation of Iraq is a "process" that we are trying to work through. No-one has all of the answers all of the time. Seems like the biggest complainers are all experts after the fact.
Penny, USA

The US has to hand over Iraq to a 'sovereign' government because the iron law of contracts states that only a sovereign government can sign binding contracts. Simple really. The first act of the new Iraqi administration will be the signing of contracts handing millions of petro dollars over to US corporations. This is what the war was/is exclusively about.
Derek Amory, London, UK

Rhetoric is all we received
Jim Thomas, Poughkeepsie, NY
Plan? What plan? Rhetoric is all we received along with a few vague notions of what is to come. A plan needs specific, clearly defined goals with end dates attached. Nothing of the sort was conveyed in Bush's "plan".
Jim Thomas, Poughkeepsie, NY

No mention that they will clear up all the scatter bombs and depleted uranium left everywhere which are injuring and killing thousands of children.
Wyn, UK

The coalition should give a three month concrete time-table to withdraw their forces COMPLETELY with no ifs and buts. While the withdrawal is occurring, non-Arab Muslim nations exclusively (acceptable to Iraqis) should be invited to contribute to a transitional peacekeeping force for a period of one year under the UN banner. During that period, a UN political administration and an interim Iraqi government should cooperate in creating an environment for free and fair elections in exactly one year's time (or less if possible). Everybody should then accept the election outcome.
Fawad Hussain, Lahore, Pakistan

What is the purpose of demolishing the prison? Where are the prisoners going to be held? The building did not violate the Geneva Convention, US soldiers did. They should be held accountable.
Tony, USA

Democracy cannot be imposed, forcing it only provokes hatred and violence.
Bilal, Canada

The country belongs to the people of Iraq
Faizal, Chennai, India
As the resistance towards the US coalition forces is increasing and the Iraqi groups uniting, and working on the same goal. US should wake up and realise that the country belongs to the people of Iraq.
Faizal, Chennai, India

I don't think Bush's plan for Iraq will work. There is too much violence in Iraq especially going after Iraqis. The insurgents are just rallying more support. The Abu Ghraib prison was really bad. I think that if the US stays it will be really bad with attacks continuing but if the US leaves, there will be civil war between the Kurds, Sunni and Shiite. I think that after June 30, Bush will still be in control of the US troops and the interim government can't force them to leave.
Pierre Tong, Arlington, MA

The British plan is the best as it has no conflict of interests and returns not only their country to the Iraqi people, but also their dignity. There is huge conflict when one knows that in the year 2000 Vice President Cheney was the CEO of the company Halliburton which is now reaping billions in contracts. George Bush's plan is, you can have a democratic Iraq as long as I let you.
Robert H. Biddle, Rotorua, New Zealand

The question is wrongly phrased: Can Bush make potential US voters believe that the plan will work? That seems to be his main concern.
Lars Backstrom, Fairbanks, USA

It seems to me the U.S. makes a lousy door-to-door salesman. They have so little confidence in their product -democracy - that they find it necessary to try to flog it by holding a gun to their (Middle Eastern) clientele's head.
Roel, Leuven, Belgium

Mr Bush's theory about Iraq can never work!
Chernor Jalloh, Almeria, Spain

Doesn't anybody see the Iraqi pull-out for what it really is: a way to disengage US troops a safe length of time before the November elections? Iraq is going to fall into ruin. Anyone who thinks otherwise of the "5 points" needs to see a doctor.
Eric, Cleveland, USA

Never mind "can it work?" it's got to work. There is no nation that will benefit if it doesn't.
Sebastian, Oxford, England

No one can get it right every step of the way
Annie, Andover

How many times have you tried to help someone and later found out your help was either unwelcome or made things worse. No one can get it right every step of the way. Maybe these two men should be helped and not hindered. Isn't that the way true freedom will happen?
Annie, Andover, Hants

The Muslim masses will never be satisfied until the complete withdrawal by American/British troops from Iraq and thereafter, if possible, criminal prosecution of Bush and Blair for starting an unjust war.
Iqbaluddin Ahmad, London

If Bush was really a believer in democracy then he wouldn't prevent the new Iraqi administration setting up a war crimes tribunal to investigate atrocities committed by US and British troops during the occupation.
Jon Perkins, Worcs, England

The policing of cities should be left to Iraq forces. US troops need to control security and terrorism from within and also from Iran and Syria!
Kagure Wamami, Somerset, NJ

The Iraqi people would have no hope of freedom if Saddam was still in power. His sons would have continued his horrible legacy of mass murder and military aggression against Iraq's neighbours. The US and her allies are allowing the Iraqi people to realize their dream of a free Iraq, run by an elected government. It will soon come to pass. Believe it.
Jon R, Frisco, TX

Let's stop using the word sovereignty, since whatever the Iraqis are getting on June 30, it's clearly not that.
Julian, Brighton

The President is doing a good job and we support him 100%
Marshall Levin, Palm Beach

The President is doing a good job and we support him 100%. He said after 9/11 that this was going to take time. The problem is that we have become a society with the attention span of 10 minutes. Remember, we are still in Germany and Korea half a century after the conflicts there. We are still in Bosnia after Clinton said we would be out in a few months. These things take time. In the long run we will all be safer and the world will be a better place.
Marshall Levin, Palm Beach, Florida

I believe Bush and all the way. Because if USA weren't there to help the Iraqis and the whole world of Hussein's idiotic rule, there is no way we could have any change. Besides that Iraqis are happy with the change as well. There should be someone powerful to go after these dictators around the world and tell them "enough is enough".
D Ner, USA

The US government is using it's strength to overcome terrorism, don't let the actions of a few bad military people blur the good intentions of the American people.
R Bradley, Bedford, Nova Scotia

Absolutely right. What is the alternative?
Euan Lloyd, London, UK

This is just pure spin and hype for the media. There is nothing specific about it at all. The only specific fact is that the Americans are there and they are the occupiers.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

American and England stay the course until it is safe for the others to follow
Robert Moore, USA/Japan
Of course the plan will work. It worked in Afghanistan and it will work in Iraq. The American's and Brits spearheaded this thing along with a small number of determined volunteers. The UN and the rest of Europe showed up after the danger had been substantially reduced. The same will happen in Iraq, the rest will follow suit after the danger has subsided as it has always been. Who made the first move into Bosnia and took the brunt of it all then the rest showed up once it was safe. This war for oil certainly has taken on a different complexion hasn't it. I say American and England stay the course until it is safe for the others to follow.
Robert Moore, USA/Japan

Here's my 5-point plan.
1. Fix date for withdrawal of all occupying forces, say 30 June 2004.
2. Issue open apology to people of Iraq for invading their country.
3. Prosecute all those who tortured prisoners.
4. Apologise to the United Nations for your arrogance.
5. Go!
Terence Kelly, Leeds, United Kingdom

For a country to have a sovereign government, it is expected of that government to take control of whatever is in that country, be it police military or otherwise. The question then is who controls the US & UK occupation forces?
Ibrahim, Gusau, Nigeria.

It seems like most liberals in the world are more than willing to help make Iraq a failure for President Bush
Mike, Pekin, USA
It seems like most liberals in the world are more than willing to help make Iraq a failure for President Bush, even at the expense of the Iraqis themselves. I'm guessing most people's minds were made up long ago. It's a shame this battle has to be fought not just in Iraq, to quell it's warring factions, but in the world through the media and those who want to derail the process just because George Bush is a conservative.
Mike, Pekin, USA

Achievement of lasting peace and security in Iraq will require genuine political representation of the three key population groups...Shia, Sunnis & Kurds. The Americans don't yet seem to understand this.
Bryan Parker, Nyon, Switzerland

I think the 5 points he laid out are all based on a presumption similar to the ones they used before they invaded Iraq. They basically presume, all of the Iraqi people (3 major religious groups) will get along and be happy that we left.
Robert Fisher, Osaka, Japan

The demolition of Abu Ghraib after June 30 is a perfect analogy for the 'handover' plan as a whole. Knock down the bricks and mortar to build a new prison facade which retains all the same aspects of the existing underlying system of arbitrary detention, no access to lawyers and actions by the occupation being away from prying eyes. In other words, a mere whitewash. Abu Ghraib had long been abandoned and deserted already by Saddam before the Americans even arrived. The Americans should do the same with it (and Iraq as a whole). Just leave it and go away.
Big Tone, Sydney, Australia

If one is against this plan, then what is the alternative? Immediate US military and political withdrawal from Iraq? What would be the consequences of that? With a little luck Kerry will take over in Washington, then Europe can wholeheartedly join the US and clean up this mess.
Francis Ezeu, Uganda

How could Iraqis have a sovereign government with the presence of invading forces?
Mike Larian, Irvine, USA
Mr. Bush proposes a five points plan for Iraq. First point he says is the "establishment of a sovereign government in Iraq". How could Iraqis have a sovereign government with the presence of invading forces. The statement by Bush is a contradiction in its full meaning of the term. If Bush administration wants a sovereign Iraqi government they should totally pull out their forces by June 30th. However, Iraq oil resources will prevent that happening for many many years to come.
Mike Larian, Irvine, USA

Why is the handing over of power to the Iraqi people not able nullify the contracts already given out to US contractors? Let's end the charade!
Hilton, Trinidad, WI

The only thing new in President Bush's 5-point plan for Iraq, is his indirect admission that he was wrong in snubbing the UN in March, 2003.
Siddique Malik, Louisville, KY, USA

The only security problem in Iraq is the continued presence of US in that country. Maybe it(the US) has bitten off more than it can swallow, notwithstanding the oil revenue of course. Probably, the best way it can extricate itself from the situation is to use Nato cover as UN has proved itself to be completely ineffective so far.
Prith Sen, Victoria, Canada

The Iraqi people are clearly unable to govern themselves. If they want to be part of the International Community then they should get on with being good citizens. If they continue to be lawless and a threat to western values, we will continue to capture or kill the criminal elements until they submit. We must stay and build a better Iraqi nation by force if needed.
Stuart Norton, Sydney, Australia

The USA cannot engineer freedom nor establish peace by military might
Bud Smith, Denver, Colorado
Eventually every great civilisation encounters its own limitations and contradictions. The USA cannot engineer freedom nor establish peace by military might. We learned nothing from Vietnam, and now we are taking on the Islamic world! Stupid White Men!
Bud Smith, Denver, Colorado

We (the US) will install a puppet government with no real control over what's going to happen in Iraq. We'll keep 140,000 US soldiers in the country to make sure things go the way we want them to. We're supposedly building a huge US military base inside Iraq, as well as the biggest US embassy ever. The Iraqi people will hate all this and continue to fight for their freedom. We'll never admit defeat and will continue to show them who's 'in charge' - and the cycle of violence and death will continue.
Andre Kuehnemund, Berkeley, CA

I believe the date is too early for handing power to the Iraqis, because it is obvious it won't be a true handover... it is rather a cover-up to continue as a 'legitimate' occupier... as the Americans seem to have understood their illegal invasion.
Amir, Pretoria, South Africa

This resolution and the passing of power on June 30 are no more than political smokescreens created by the Bush/Cheney re-election committee. Neither will affect the reality of the military rule and occupation.
Jim C, Spokane, WA USA

At present it is clear that any further change will be viewed as submission probably escalating the levels of resentment and conflict. Simply put - no change must occur the message and strategies in place were not short term, they must be given significant time to work. We are talking about securing peace for the future generations of Iraq.
Nick, Wales

Hmm, so where have all the people who thought going into Iraq was a good idea, and the laughable notion that its problems could be fixed by military force?
J M, Chesterfield, UK

The only practical solution to this mess is to allow the UN to take control and hold elections
Wajid Ali, Birmingham
The quicker the US is taken out of the equation the better. The US have lost the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people with its heavy handedness. The only practical solution to this mess is to allow the UN to take control and hold elections. It is only with elections that Iraq can return to democracy and install a government with any credibility.
Wajid Ali, Birmingham

Iraq should be governed by a system that evolves organically from the people. Whether this (hypothetical) system is just or unjust would be up to the Iraqis and to chance. What Bush has accomplished with his "Nation Building" dream (a nightmare for the Iraqi people) is to eliminate Iraq's hope for stability. The US should do its best to clean up the mess it made, make a humble, apologetic exit and let Iraq begin a natural social evolutionary process.
John, Pittsburgh, USA

If the whole purpose of this fiasco was to set the Iraqi people free, then we should hand over full power to them and let them get on with governing their own country with a minimal UN presence initially to help with law and order
Rock Anderson, London, England

After June 30, the occupation is officially over, and Iraq will again be an independent country. There will be no legal basis for the coalition troops to remain outside the jurisdiction of the Iraqi legal system. If they remain outside the control of the Iraqi authorities, then it will just show that the new government is just a puppet regime, and that Iraq is not truly independent.
Stephen Gordon, Glasgow, UK

Iraq should be governed by Iraqis who have been chosen by and are fully accountable to other Iraqis. The Iraqis should have no US or UK troops on their soil, as they are now wholly discredited, nor any other troops who are not completely accountable under Iraqi legal processes.
Mogens Lumbye, Silkeborg, Denmark

The Americans are right the handover date will be a symbolic gesture and that's what it will remain. The Iraqis won't have any real power to govern their country, innocent civilians will continue to be killed and no one will be accountable, Iraqis won't have control over their resources. Only one force can bring change in Iraq and that's Bush's defeat at the elections.
Fuwaid Hussain, UK

Have your say: How should Iraq be governed? runs the BBC headline. A big part of the problem is that too many people other than Iraqis want to have their say.
Joe, London, UK

It is amazing how everyone still thinks that Iraq has been liberated. This is a new form of colonisation, that will all come out clear in the future.
Shazad Qadeer, Croydon

What are we doing deciding how Iraq should be governed? I thought that was going to be up to the Iraqi people. Even if the us and others do not like the outcome.
Katheen Galt, Athens Ohio USA

By Iraqis, without the involvement of any hidden hand
Ihtesham Kayani, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Simple, by Iraqis, without the involvement of any hidden hand. The West must respect the will of Iraqi people and this is the time to pay back for the follies US led coalition committed in Iraq.
Ihtesham Kayani, Rawalpindi/Pakistan

Iraq should be given back to Iraqis in absolute terms. The UN should be there to guide the handover process. Any existence of alien forces after handover means no handover has taken place at all. The alien soldiers to leave Iraq first should be the prisoner abuser Americans!
Peter Mtika, Lilongwe, Malawi

As long as the UN will not govern the country, anything else is better than that. Or have we forgotten the disaster of the UN forces in Bosnia? Let them sort it out themselves in Iraq, if that is what they want. It doesn't really matter what president Bush or anyone else will say in this matter, the public opinion is already made up. Everyone has already forgotten that Iraq has ignored UN resolutions since the end of the first Gulf War and the United States is to blame for everything going wrong in Iraq at the moment. And apparently everyone has forgotten about Saddam too. Suddenly he seems like a nice guy compared to George Bush. Do these people really know what they want?
Celina, The Netherlands

So the Iraqis get sovereignty, but there's 150,000 foreign troops running around their country operating outside of any legal accountability and who answer wholly to a foreign power? That'll empower them!
Barbara, Helatio, UK

We have completely screwed up their country and now we are running out on them. Give the control of armed forces to an all Arab peace force and the political control to Iraqi nationals. Maybe for a set time of one year and then see how they wish to go. Its up to them in the end.
Hadyn Lassiter, Phoenix, USA

Iraq should be governed by Iraqis - with anyone else in power they are a subject nation, and that's just not acceptable.
Patrick, London, UK

it just goes to show that it is more of an occupation then liberation
Andrew, London, UK
The handover is a formality and nothing more. No real power will be transferred. While the coalition should be in direct control over its troops, I do think that the Iraqi government should be able to exercise some kind of control and jurisdiction. If that is not the case, US troops can continue to abuse Iraqi prisoners without fear of repercussions. If coalition troops remain under total coalition jurisdiction, it just goes to show that it is more of an occupation then liberation.
Andrew, London, UK

Doesn't matter how it's handed back the country will probably spiral into Civil War anyway. Just let them get onto it and stop getting our guys killed.
Ian, Staines

UN to examine Iraq handover plan
24 May 04  |  Americas
Bush tries to get a grip on Iraq
24 May 04  |  Middle East


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