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GENERAL ADDRESSES POST-IRAQ
HAMMOND – A number of questions
that may take years to fully answer will determine the success or failure
of the war in Iraq, a former military commander said Wednesday (April 30).
In an address at Southeastern Louisiana
University, retired four-star U.S. Army General Montgomery C. Meigs said
the Iraqi war carried with it a number of uncertainties that could take
from one to 10 years to resolve. Meigs, who served as a regular commentator
on the war on CNBC, is the former commander of NATO’s 39-member stabilization
force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He currently serves as the
Visiting Professor of World Peace at the LBJ School of Public Policy at
the University of Texas and holds the Younger-Carter Fellowship for Distinguished
Policy-Maker in Residence at Texas A&M University.
Meigs outlined four major uncertainties
associated with the war, some of which he said will turn out positive while
others may be negative for the United States.
“Are we setting up the conditions for
a successful effort to reconstruct Iraq as a stable democratic government?”
he asked. One of the tests, he explained, will be to help the Iraqis develop
a sense of separation of church and state in a Muslim society where this
is not the preferred approach.
He noted that another concern will be
the patience of the American people. “There will be situations where our
troops are periodically attacked and must use lethal force in response,”
he said. “They will face suicide bombers, snipers and others interested
in thwarting U.S. efforts. Will the folks at home be understanding about
An international issue that must be
resolved, Meigs said, is whether traditional alliances have been significantly
damaged. The anti-war positions assumed by Germany and France were based
in large part because significant coalitions that make up the governing
parties in those nations were opposed to military intervention. The question
now is what happens to NATO and the United Nations and are these institutions
now less important factors, Meigs said.
A final hurdle the nation faces is paying
the bills associated with military intervention. Meigs said initial estimates
indicate the nation’s deficit this year will be more than $.5 trillion
with a similar deficit next year. The growth rate of the economy is significantly
lower than what had been projected, leaving most states to face major budget
cuts that impact new. “Can we conduct an aggressive foreign policy with
these kinds of costs?” he questioned.
Meigs predicted that the Iraqi people
will probably develop a loose federal system that “will hang together because
they have an interest in hanging together.” While the Shiite Muslims represent
60 percent of the Iraqi population, if minority rights of other groups
are not protected it will not be an effective government. “This is a major
bump in the road that will have to be resolved,” he said.
Meigs’ presentation was sponsored by
the Southeastern President and Provost’s Office, the Department of History
and Political Science and the University Honors Program.
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