Restoration: 'Let Freedom Reign'

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'Let Freedom Reign'

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On June 28 at 10:26 a.m. local time in Baghdad, American proconsul Paul Bremer turned control of Iraq over to a new Iraqi government headed for now by Iyad Allawi. News was flashed to U.S. President George W. Bush who was attending a NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey. With a grin, a glance at his watch and a scrawl of words, "Let Freedom Reign," the American leader leaned over to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to inform him of the historic handover, done two days ahead of the announced schedule.

And so Iraq gets a new birth of freedom and the world waits and holds its breath. Fifteen months after Coalition troops invaded and ousted the murderous dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, a new interim government takes over with the hope of steering the country on a path to take its rightful place among the nations.

It will not be an easy job. The week before the handover was the bloodiest period since the occupation. Hundreds of Iraqis died in bombings perpetrated by terrorists intent on undermining any government connected with the United States. Iraq is a failed state composed of a matrix of peoples who fear one another. The next 60 to 90 days will be crucial.

Mr. Allawi has a large task. He once headed an unsuccessful coup against the Hussein regime, and since the Americans support him, he has two strikes against him in the eyes of many Iraqis. Supporters of the former Baathist government still hold out hope that they may find a way to return to power as they did in 1968 after five years of exile. To them this is just another setback in a long history of regional power plays. It is the one left standing who wins the fight.

America's will to remain in the region and guarantee the security of this new government will now be put to the test. American leaders have said they will remain as long as needed. There is little doubt American troops are needed to support the interim government.

However, a number of unknowns could change the equation. Should John Kerry replace George W. Bush in the White House, a new doctrine could emerge, one quite different from the highly interventionist policy of the current administration. Further terror attacks and loss of American soldiers could turn the mood of the American public to one of wanting its troops home and the country uninvolved with international quarrels. There is also the chance of unforeseen events, like 9/11, that transform the international scene.

When America's founding brothers completed their constitutional convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman bystander what kind of country now existed. "A republic, madam," he replied, "if you can keep it." Sadly, Iraq does not seem to have a Franklin, Jefferson or Washington among its current crop of leaders. The country and its people cry out for justice, security and peace. The majority of the common people, like most people everywhere, wish only to live, love and work with a hope for a future. Neither their religion nor their faith has produced this peace in recent decades.

We can pray for their peace and prosperity. We can pray that their new leaders can give them a new government that frees them from tyranny and oppression. God knows they need a period to heal. For decades fear tactics have governed them. Like all other nations they await the time of restoration under the government of the supreme Creator of life. God speed the day when freedom reigns upon the whole world. WNP