June 28, 2004 | Wall Street Journal

Jack Kemp Statement on Early Transfer of Power to Iraq

Today, Jack Kemp issued the following statement on the early transfer of power to Iraq:

“The transfer of power in Iraq came only two days early but it was a brilliant tactical stroke by the Bush Administration that puts us two light years ahead of the insurgents in the race to consolidate democracy between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. On June 28, 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq ceased to exist, and Iraq became a sovereign nation once again. The early transfer of power caught the insurgents by surprise and eliminated any possibility of their targeting June 30 as a day of violence and mayhem against the so-called “American infidel.”

“Henceforth, it will be unambiguously clear to Iraqis and to the world that any continued violence in Iraq is aimed not at the “foreign occupation” but at Iraqis themselves. The occupation is over so the only excuse for the insurgents to continue the violence is to bring down a sovereign Iraqi government and thwart the birth of democracy.

“The Iraqi interim government now exercises full sovereignty, and foreign military forces remain in the country at its request. The interim government's primary purposes will be to combat the insurgents and prepare for democratic elections in January. NATO also has agreed, at the request of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, to provide military training for the Iraqi armed forces, which should give an international imprimatur to the continued foreign military presence in Iraq.

“This transfer of sovereignty belies the arguments of the Left that America entered Iraq on some kind of imperial quest to control the country's oil. And, Bush's diplomatic coup in convincing NATO to step up to the plate and help train Iraq's military forces contradicts the image the Left has been trying to peddle that America's diplomatic strength has been diminished. As National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice remarked, 'We have been getting a very favorable reaction from European nations, all saying that, with the U.N. Security Council resolution, it's time for everybody to pull together and support this new Iraqi government, as it tries to build a stable and secure Iraq.'

“Whatever our feelings might be about our invasion and liberation of Iraq, every American must feel a great deal of gratitude and pride in the President and in former Coalition Administrator Paul Bremer and his CPA for persevering under such difficult and trying circumstances to give the Iraqi people a chance at freedom, democracy and prosperity. I believe Jerry Bremer had it right when he said before leaving the country, 'I welcome Iraq's steps to take its rightful place of equality and honor among the free nations of the world. You are ready now for sovereignty and we think it's an important part of our obligation as temporary custodian to return the sovereignty to you. I have confidence that the Iraqi government is ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.'

“Well done, Mr. Bremer, and Godspeed to our new ambassador John Negroponte.”