Gibbons: Blast shows bringing democracy to Iraq will take a long time
RENO — The deadly bombing in Iraq will only strengthen the United States’ commitment to the long and difficult task of bringing peace and democracy to that country, Rep. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday.
It also should serve as a “wake up call” to the United Nations that humanitarian efforts are in danger there and that the U.N. coalition of 39 countries must be broadened to include neighboring Muslim countries, the Nevada Republican said.
“The influence those bordering Muslim countries could have on both public opinion and our ability to bring stability to Iraq would be very effective,” he said.
Gibbons is a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee and the only member of Congress to have served in both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. The former combat pilot was briefed on the attack during a teleconference with other members of the committee within minutes of the explosion.
“It was a massive attack. I think the numbers (of dead) are going to grow continually throughout the day,” Gibbons told The Associated Press at midday.
Initial reports indicated at least 20 U.N. workers and Iraqis were killed, including the chief U.N. official in Iraq. Some 100 were injured.
Gibbons said the attack will cause U.S. officials to re-examine whether existing military resources in Iraq “are adequate to do the job.
“We have to see if we could have changed anything in our intelligence capabilities to warn us of this type of attack. But these are guerrilla tactics that take on a terrorist aura,” he said.
“The resolve to establish a free and democratic Iraq is strong and not going to wane or disappear because of these guerrilla-style attacks. It takes a long time to re-establish a country once you have changed its traditional style of government,” he said.
“That can be seen in Kosovo, in Serbia, in Afghanistan. You are going to see it in Liberia,” he said.
Gibbons said U.S. officials were surprised that al-Qaida was trying to take credit for the attack.
“We think this is a problem with the internal guerrilla-style warfare going on with the Baath Party trying to undermine the efforts of the United States and the United Nations to rebuild the country,” he said.
“They are reverting to innocent civilians as targets in order to change the world’s opinions,” he said.
“They chose a soft target like the United Nations because they know American resources over there are better protected,” he said.
Gibbons said Baath Party loyalists are determined to keep the U.S. and its allies from restoring stability to Iraq.
“If they can interrupt the oil supplies, the electrical supplies and water supplies, they can literally keep the turmoil brewing and probably hope to drive out the United States and other countries, giving the Baath Party loyalists an opportunity to re-establish a foothold in Iraq,” he said.
“But that is something we are not going to do.”
“We are committed at this point to re-establishing the infrastructure, including the oil and gas and water supplies, and bringing democracy to this country.”
“It just takes time and dedication and commitment. You can’t just walk away or the worst things will happen, which means a return to the ways of old,” he said.