US DOS: Lugar stresses importance of Iraqi reconstruction

News and Press Release
Originally published
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned the Bush administration March 11 not to underestimate the importance of reconstructing Iraq in the event of a conflict with that country.

Noting that the Bush administration has labored to build a war coalition, Senator Dick Lugar (Republican from Indiana) said that it "will be vital that [President Bush] duplicate this effort in seeking a post-conflict reconstruction coalition."

Leaving Iraq prematurely, Lugar warned, "could lead to regional instability, ethnic warfare, failure to eliminate all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and the establishment of terrorist bases on Iraqi territory."

Calling reconstruction "potentially complex and expensive," Lugar added that years of public investment and guidance would be required to remake Iraq as a "secure and responsible member of the world community."

Lugar also said that military action in Iraq should not be made without understanding the humanitarian repercussions.

"The United States must begin humanitarian relief activities immediately upon securing territory in Iraq," he said.

Following is the text of Lugar's opening statement at a March 11 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq humanitarian assistance and reconstruction:

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Dick Lugar
U.S. Senator for Indiana
Date: 3/11/03

Opening statement on Iraq humanitarian assistance and reconstruction

Today the Foreign Relations Committee continues its review of U.S. humanitarian and reconstruction policy concerning Iraq.

At our hearing on Iraq exactly one month ago today, Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith were unable to provide many details about U.S. planning in this area. A short time after that hearing, General Jay Garner was named Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance - a new position at the Pentagon. We invited General Garner to appear before the Committee today. Unfortunately, we have been notified that neither General Garner, nor his deputy, are available to the Committee. This is a missed opportunity for the Administration to communicate its views on Iraqi reconstruction, not only to Senators who want to help in meeting potentially complex and expensive requirements, but also to the American people, whose long-term support will be a necessity.

Nevertheless, the Committee will continue to concentrate on this vital issue. In addition to our hearing today, Assistant Secretary of State Bill Burns will testify on policy towards Iraq in a closed hearing on Thursday. If General Garner is not available to testify, we should hear promptly from responsible officials in DOD who are available on that day.

President Bush has repeatedly stressed the hope of all Americans that Saddam Hussein will disarm peacefully. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein has not complied with U.N. Resolutions. He has not opened his weapons programs to U.N. inspection teams or accounted for the weapons and materials of mass destruction that were known to be in his possession.

Fully twelve years after Operation Desert Storm, the world continues to face the threats posed by Iraq and its ruler.

Baghdad is in material breach of Resolution 1441, even though the U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 that such a monumental defiance of the United Nations would result in grave consequences. Later this week the Security Council will consider a resolution proposed by the United States, Great Britain, and Spain that would find Iraq in noncompliance with Resolution 1441. The last major hope for disarmament without military action is a united front by the members of the Security Council in underlining again the requirements imposed on Iraq by the world community.

Military actions always have humanitarian consequences. Decisions to go to war always should be made with the sober realization of the human costs. But an Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction and the possibility of their transfer to terrorist organizations is unacceptable. Our decision is guided by the knowledge that failing to act is more dangerous to the future of the American and Iraqi people than taking action now to disarm Iraq.

President Bush has made it clear that if we are compelled to resort to military force, there will be a new government in Baghdad. It is vital that the United States joins with allies and the Iraqi people to reconstruct Iraq once Saddam is gone. Our humanitarian and reconstruction efforts must reflect the considerable interests we have in the health and welfare of the Iraqi people. The United States must begin humanitarian relief activities immediately upon securing territory in Iraq, and preparations for reconstruction must move forward with the same vigor as military preparations.

The Foreign Relations Committee already has heard testimony from a number of Administration officials and private sector experts on the challenges that the United States will face in rebuilding Iraq. Our first goal must be to ensure security by preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq while simultaneously finding and destroying the weapons and materials of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Security is crucial to the provision of emergency relief, safe water, sanitation, food, electricity, and basic public health services.

The Administration must be aggressive in encouraging other governments and international organizations to be active participants in this process. President Bush and his advisers have spent much energy trying to assemble the most potent military coalition possible. It will be vital that they duplicate this effort in seeking a post-conflict reconstruction coalition that expands the talents and resources available for Iraqi reconstruction. Furthermore, we must reach out and consult with our colleagues in the non-governmental organization community. NGOs have a critical role to play in Iraq, and we must ensure that our efforts are fully coordinated.

The Iraqi people have suffered for decades at the hands of their leaders. We want to contribute to the creation of fundamental structures for the people of Iraq to enjoy democracy and economic growth. The American people must understand that U.S. military and civilian personnel will be in Iraq for an extended period of time. Most experts believe that years of public investment and expert guidance will be required to establish Iraq as a secure and responsible member of the world community. Failure to stay the course in Iraq would risk great damage to U.S. credibility - particularly after the last several months of fractious diplomacy over the propriety of military force. Leaving Iraq prematurely also could lead to regional instability, ethnic warfare, failure to eliminate all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and the establishment of terrorist bases on Iraqi territory.

I understand that the Administration has assembled a talented inter-agency team to implement reconstruction plans. This preparation must be matched by the commitment of the American government. We have an opportunity to secure a path to peace and prosperity in Iraq, but we must make a commitment to finish the journey. This Committee intends to follow the Administration's progress in this area very closely.

We are pleased to welcome a distinguished panel of witnesses. We will hear from Eric Schwartz, Senior Fellow and Director of the Independent Task Force on Post-Conflict Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations; Pheobe Marr, formerly of the National Defense University; Professor Gordon Adams, Director of the Security Policy Studies Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, and Sandra Mitchell, Vice President of Governmental Relations at the International Rescue Committee.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: