Next step in Iraq critical |

Next step in Iraq critical


Everyone who walked past the newsstands or into the grocery store saw it. The headline of the day, marking a major development in U.S.-Middle East policy, and maybe indicating for the first time in many months progress toward troop withdrawal from Iraq.

With Saddam Hussein in U.S. custody, the time has come for the Bush administration to act swiftly in bringing him to justice in a forum that will withstand international scrutiny. If successful, this effort will move our military toward the goal of a free Iraq and improve our relationships internationally.

While it is not America’s job to appease the demands of the world community, especially at the risk of our citizens’ safety, stability in Iraq will help start the process of restoring American international credibility. Even as the dominant economic and military superpower in the world theater, we need other countries, especially our allies in Europe, in order to pursue American interests. As “globalization” continues to evolve from ethereal theory to geopolitical reality, our relationship with these countries becomes critical – look at NAFTA or the World Trade Organization.

While American and international opinion remains divided about our decision to enter war, there should be little doubt about how we should treat someone like Saddam Hussein. As a dictator and tyrant, Hussein’s record speaks for itself, and continues to speak volumes as mass burial sites are uncovered during coalition occupation.

In Monday’s White House press conference, Bush indicated the administration’s intentions to consult with Iraqis in developing a judicial process for trying and punishing Hussein. Such a process is a necessary alternative to a world court-type trial because it gives further ownership of Iraq’s sovereignty to the Iraqis who deserve it. It would also be unwise to rely on the U.N. or the world court because of its failings in diplomatic solutions to the Iraq situation over the last decade.

With Saddam in custody, and his reign officially relegated to the history books, Iraq can now look ahead to a brighter future, one in which its citizens choose the type of government they want to live by.

And while it remains debatable whether or not bringing down Saddam has increased American security, we have no choice but to do the right thing by the Iraqi people, and allow them to deal with their deposed leader the way they see fit.

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