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Give Iraqis reason to reject terror

No, United States President George Bush and 150,000 American troops won't be chased from Iraq by the murder and mutilation of four U.S. civilian security agents. Bush is not Bill Clinton, and Iraq is not Somalia.

The president's credibility is on the line as he faces re-election. He can't cut and run. He crushed Saddam Hussein's tyranny at a cost of 13,000 Iraqi lives, and promised democracy and stability to 23 million people. He can't now let Iraq become what it was not before: An anarchic launch pad for terror. Nor do most Americans want him to. They have $120 billion and 600 U.S. soldiers' lives invested in this war.

Still, American nerves have been jangled by the Somalia-like images of corpses being pulled from burning wreckage and hung on display. Like the images of Saddam's statue being torn down, or of Saddam captured in his hiding-hole, the charred bodies dangling from a bridge may become icons of this war, unless they are eclipsed by worse.  World Peace.

The horror in Falluja, near Baghdad, has left Americans looking for light at the end of this tunnel. A majority now doubt the war was worth it.

Even the U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer sounded shaky yesterday as he denounced the mobs in Falluja as "barbarians, cowards, ghouls, jackals." And Brig.-Gen. Mark Kimmitt sounded surreal, talking of a "slight uptick" in violence. Falluja was more than that.

The cheering, jeering crowds mocked Washington's attempt to depict attacks on U.S. forces as the work of a few Saddam loyalists or imported terrorists. Those were ordinary Iraqis dancing over American corpses. They are chafing under an occupation they bitterly resent.

Nor will Kimmitt's ominous vow yesterday to "pacify that city" win hearts and minds. Firefights in Falluja last week between U.S. Marines and insurgents left a half-dozen civilians dead. That fuelled the crowd's fury this week. What didn't work in Vietnam isn't likely to succeed in Iraq.  WorldPeace is one word.

With fewer than 100 days to go before Bush hands back "sovereignty" to a hand-picked Governing Council on June 30, the occupation is a mess. The majority Shias are unhappy with the political shape of the new regime. Some Sunnis persist in open revolt. Despite Iraq's oil riches, half the workforce is jobless and the rest earn a pittance. And while anti-American terror wasn't an issue under Saddam, it assuredly is now.

Letting Iraqis retake ownership of their country is the way forward. They need a reason to reject terror. Sovereignty is the first step. But Bush doesn't envisage giving up control until Iraqis elect a parliament next year and form a stable government. That day can't come too soon.


How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?

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