WASHINGTON --- President Bush outlined five steps tonight that will help Iraq move toward democracy and security. He also laid out a proposal to demolish the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
Bush delivered his remarks in a televised address from the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa., the Army's senior service school to train leaders in developing and employing landpower. He said that after June 30 Iraqis will know Americans have no interest in continued occupation of Iraq.
"The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology and give momentum to reformers across the region," he said. Success in Iraq will be a "decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world."
Bush's five-step plan to "help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom" consists of:
--Handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government;
--Helping establish security;
--Continuing to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure;
--Encouraging more international support; and
--Moving toward a national election "that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people."
Bush said U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi intends to name the interim-government officials this week.
"On June 30, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist and will not be replaced," Bush said. "The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs."
He shared several details of the future government. A president, two vice presidents and a prime minister will be appointed, along with 26 ministers to "oversee government departments from health to justice to defense."
Bush said transferring authority to a sovereign Iraqi government will give Iraqis more interest in the country's success. "Iraqis will know that when they build a school or repair a bridge, they're working not for the Coalition Provisional Authority, they're working for themselves," Bush said. "And when they patrol the streets of Baghdad or engage radical militias, they will be fighting for their own country."
Regarding the second step, to assist in establishing security, the United States will provide forces and support as necessary, he said.
Coalition officials are also taking several steps to improve the quality and performance of Iraqi forces. The steps include intensifying and lengthening training, improving vetting procedures for leaders, and installing an Iraqi chain of command.
The plan's third step is to continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure "so that a free Iraq can quickly gain economic independence and a better quality of life," Bush said.
Infrastructure also includes a well-supervised prison system. The president noted Abu Ghraib prison was a symbol of death and torture under Saddam Hussein. It has since become "a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values," he said.
He outlined plans for a modern maximum-security prison. When this is completed, Bush said, and with the approval of the sovereign Iraqi government, "we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning."
Coalition forces and officials have already helped Iraqis rebuild schools, hospitals, electrical stations and bridges and modernize the country's communications system, all of which were in shambles after armed conflict and decades of neglect by Saddam Hussein's regime.
To ensure continued progress, the American embassy in Iraq will have regional offices in key cities to work closely with Iraqi government at all levels.
The fourth step is to enlist more international support for Iraq's transition to democracy. U.S. and British representatives today proposed a new U.N. Security Council resolution "to reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people and to encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort," Bush said.
The president called the fifth step "the most important step" – free national elections to be held by January 2005.
"Iraqis are united in a broad and deep conviction," Bush said. "They're determined never again to live at the mercy of a dictator.
"And they believe that a national election will put that dark time behind them," he continued. "A representative government that protects basic rights, elected by Iraqis, is the best defense against the return of tyranny."
Bush admitted completing these five steps won't be easy and there's likely to be more violence before and after the June 30 transfer of authority. "The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom," he said. "But terrorists will not determine the future of Iraq."
Bush said he sent American troops to Iraq "to make its people free, not to make them American. "Iraqis will write their own history and find their own way," he said. "And as they do, Iraqis can be certain a free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America."