Envoy Says Goals Unchanged as Iraq Strategy Shifts

Zalmay Khalilzad i i

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 13, 2006. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Zalmay Khalilzad

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 13, 2006.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As President Bush pushes forward with his revised strategy for Iraq, including a boost in U.S. forces, his ambassador to Iraq acknowledges that patience is wearing thin among Americans.

Zalmay Khalilzad says the Bush administration's short-term goal is to secure Baghdad. That alone won't solve that country's problems, but the envoy says it will be "an important achievement."

In an interview, Khalilzad tells Steve Inskeep that the long-term goal is a democracy "in which all Iraqis resolve their differences on fundamental issues; an Iraq that is united; and an Iraq that is making progress with the rule of law and is doing well economically and is not a source of insecurity in the region, but a source of security."

Khalilzad says that although President Bush's strategy has changed, the long-term goal has not. "But I think there is greater appreciation of the amount of time that it will take and the amount of effort that it will require."

According to Khalilzad, the new strategy calls upon some of the same tools that already are being used: diplomacy, military force and the training of Iraqi forces. What is different, he says, is that the Iraqis have agreed to take on more of the responsibility and commitments needed to secure Iraq.

Khalilzad, who is being nominated as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, acknowledges that a prolonged conflict will be increasingly difficult to sell to the American people.

"We can be very patient, and we demonstrated that during the Cold War," he says. "But for patience to be sustained domestically, the American people have to believe that we have a strategy for success. I believe the American people know that Iraq is important. They have serious doubts with regard to our strategy."

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