Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Alt on CNN Tuesday Morning

Robert Alt will appear on CNN’s Daybreak program Tuesday at 5:45 am ET.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Mr. Alt-

You should know that this represents the first time I’ve ever TiVo’d CNN.


Transcript of Alt on CNN:

NGUYEN: All right, thank you, Chad. Looks like a good day in many parts.

Now that the transfer of power is complete and Iraq is a sovereign nation, what’s next? Many political and security issues still need to be resolved.

And joining us from Baghdad to talk about it is Pamela Falk, an International Law Scholar. In fact, I understand she is from New York. And now from Baghdad, Robert Alt, who is a Legal and International Affairs Scholar.

We want to thank both of you for getting up so early to be with us.

Let’s talk with you first, Robert, since we have you up and running. There’s a lot of pomp and circumstance over the handover, yet a lot of the crucial elements in this government still have to be put in place. Was this handover premature?

ROBERT ALT, LEGAL & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS SCHOLAR, ASHLAND UNIVERSITY: Well I think when you look at that question, the first thing you have to understand is that the timing was largely dictated by the requests of the Iraqis themselves. They, for a long time, had --actually many had been pushing to move the date back. They wanted to get control of their own government as soon as possible.

And I think if you look at the -- many of the political structures, which is what we’re really talking about, we’re talking less about the security structures, more about the political structures, many of them had actually been transferred beginning over two months ago with the last of those particular institutions transferred a full week ago. So in fact the transition -- the transition was not as hasty, I think, as some are suggesting.

NGUYEN: Pamela, was security a huge issue, infrastructure an issue? Was this premature in your view?

PAMELA FALK, INTERNATIONAL LAW SCHOLAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: No, the handover is well timed, and the idea of moving it up avoided any issue of security questions. Obviously it was a big bull’s eye to have all of the Iraqi government, U.S. government officials and even the press all in one place at one time. But the handover itself is good news. That’s the end of an occupation. And it takes off the American face on the U.S. occupation or the coalition occupation of Iraq. The other side of it is though that the multinational force now kicks in and becomes this U.N. stamp of approval force that is -- that stays in Iraq and the mandate doesn’t end for 18 months. That means American troops are still there. And in some ways that is the biggest problem for the United States in Iraq that there may be not enough troops for the violence that may continue.

NGUYEN: Now despite how this looks on paper, realistically U.S. troops are their -- is their role really going to change that much -- Pamela?

FALK: No, their role will not change really at all because the way the U.N. resolution worked was that U.S. commanders still command U.S. troops and Iraqi commanders -- Iraq command Iraqi troops and every government commands its own.

The biggest problem that the French and the Russians and the -- and the Chinese pointed out when the U.N. -- with the U.N. resolution was that there was not a discussion or resolution about the fact that the -- if there is a conflict between the new Iraqi government and American commanders, particularly on offensive military maneuvers, entering Fallujah or something along those lines, or ethnic conflicts between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq, that will not be -- that has not been resolved. And so it may end up within short order with a showdown between American forces and Iraqi forces. That’s one of the biggest problems.

There is a second one that was a failed resolution at the U.N. a week ago and that was that the U.S. troops would be given immunity. That has lapsed and that means that U.S. troops in any situation, such as civilian casualties or prisoner abuse, such as there have been in Abu Ghraib, there could be war crimes charges in the international criminal court against U.S. troops.

And finally, the detainees, there is no resolution about when detainees will be turned over to Iraq.

NGUYEN: Right, there’s a lot of issues here -- Pamela.

FALK: Obviously Saddam Hussein will be turned over to Iraq.

NGUYEN: We want to go back to Robert to get his opinion because he is -- he is in Baghdad, been dealing with these troops, speaking with them. Obviously they are excited about the handover, but realistically they know they are going to have to stay for some time. But how long do they think is a safe amount of time in which they can leave?

ALT: Well I think -- I think actually I have spent quite a bit of time with the troops. And I think most of them realize that this is not a short-term endeavor, that the U.S. is going to have a significant presence in Iraq for a long time yet to come. Obviously there’s a need to assure stability and security, at the very least through the elections in 2005, and we can anticipate that there’s probably going to be a greater need for U.S. presence and U.S. security at that time. But it’s doubtful that the U.S. presence will even necessarily end then.

As President Bush made clear, the U.S. is obligating itself in this region as long as the Iraqi people request our presence here to guarantee the safety and security of the locals and to provide the Iraqi government with the time necessary to develop security forces which will be capable of carrying out the mission for themselves.

NGUYEN: So it could be a long-term commitment.

All right, Robert Alt in Baghdad and Pamela Falk in New York, we thank you both this morning.

FALK: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Iraq’s national security adviser will be a guest on "AMERICAN MORNING." That begins at 7:00 Eastern.

Stay with us, we have much more to come.

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