Mitchell says Iraq invasion half planned

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, March 17, 2004

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
BENTON HARBOR -- U.S. military action taken in Iraq a year ago to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein was well-planned and executed.
But the post-warfare operation "was poorly planned and poorly executed," former Senate majority leader George Mitchell said Tuesday night before The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan.
While the Bush administration made "the determination to go it alone and to spurn involvement by the United Nations," a reversal has occurred gradually to where "we are now practically begging the United Nations to become involved in any way it can. That's essential to achieving any form of stability there," Mitchell said.
ABC reported Monday night that a plurality in Iraq "believes they're better off, that the war was better than not. The fact is, stability depends on economic growth. Jobs creation is the single most important ingredient in achieving stability. Franklin Roosevelt said the best social program is a good job, and that remains true today."
In October 2000, Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, the European Union, Jordan and the United States convened a summit in Egypt. They agreed to form an international commission to look into violence involving Israelis and Palestinians. Mitchell chaired a five-member panel with the hope that a neutral report on the origins of violence might help the parties take steps together.
Mitchell said they were "heartened" by initial response to the report delivered to President George H.W. Bush. Israel and the Palestinian Authority both accepted the document.
That apparent broad support made "the failure to implement any of its recommendations profoundly disappointing. There have been several unsuccessful efforts to obtain a cease fire, which was our first recommendation, followed by prompt political actions and resumption of negotiations, "the only way to achieve a lasting resolution."
One hurdle in achieving Mideast peace is that "the circumstances and objectives of the two sides are different," Mitchell said. Israelis crave security. Palestinians desire an independent, geographically contiguous, economically viable state.
Terrorism is "politically counterproductive," he said. "Rather than achieve its objectives, it accomplishes the opposite. With each suicide bombing, the prospect of a Palestinian state is delayed. These tactics are destructive … the culture of peace so carefully nurtured over previous decades has been totally shattered. In its place there is a sense of futility and despair of the inevitably of conflict. Yet public opinion on both sides continues to show majorities in support of the two-state solution and the process needed to bring it about."