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Keeping Covenant With Iraq
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Democracy; Negotiations; Minority & ethnic groups; Governmental reform -- Iraq; Coalition governments
Author: Hoagland, Jim
Date: Apr 3, 2005
Start Page: B.07

The Bush administration has exacerbated the problem by suddenly adopting a diffident, disengaged attitude toward the political change that it fought a war to bring to Iraq. After years of fearing "mission creep" in foreign adventures, Washington is allowing "mission shrink" to jeopardize Iraq's chances to build a sustainable functioning democracy.

In contrast to [Jerry Bremer], whose bent for social engineering left no stone unturned, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte left no fingerprints on Iraq's political development. And the admin- istration has been slow to send a high-profile replacement for the departed Negroponte. The sense of drift coming from Washington on Iraq has contributed to the waiting games now being played in Baghdad by Iraq's Kurds, Shiites and Sunni Arabs.

For many Army units force protection is the most visible U.S. mission in Iraq today. No one can deny the beneficial results for Americans of this emphasis: U.S. casualties are down, and Iraq has ceased to be the center of pitched national debate. The Jan. 30 elections and an intensified U.S. training program for local forces also have shifted the focus to Iraqis.

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