A year ago, America invaded Iraq, taking aim at Saddam Hussein and the banned weapons the White House thought he had, with the goal of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
ABCNEWS This Week's George Stephanopoulos and George Will spoke with the man who made the administration's case for war, Secretary of State Colin Powell, to examine where things stand with Iraq.
Following are excerpts of the conversation.
George Stephanopoulos, ABCNEWS' This Week anchor: The Iraqis [ABCNEWS] is talking to, including members of the Iraqi Governing Council, aren't quite sure whether they're ready for the handover of power on June 30.
Secretary of State Colin Powell: We are creating a democracy where one has not existed before. But the Iraqi people seem to want a democracy. They want to live in freedom. They enjoy the ability to speak out the way Peter Jennings just described [in a preceeding segment]. There is this vibrant debate and discussion taking place now in Iraq. And so we are going to shoot for returning sovereignty, and I think we can make it on the first of July. But it doesn't mean we're abandoning Iraq on the first of July. We will continue to have 100,000 troops there helping them with their security as their own security forces show greater ability to protect the population. We'll also have a very large embassy. So we're not walking out on Iraq on the first of July. We will be with them. And what they have to do over the next several months is determine what kind of government they want to have during this interim period. And then there's a lot more to come — the writing of the full constitution, real, full national elections for an assembly and for a new government. Well, let's not discount how much we have accomplished in the last year. Schools are being rebuilt, hospitals are being rebuilt, the infrastructure's coming back up, the oil is starting to flow. We're going to jump-start the economy as fast as we can with the money that Congress has provided. And most importantly, an administrative law has been written — which is the forerunner of the constitution that will be written — that is quite astonishing with respect to basic rights and liberties and how all these different ethnicities can come together. There's a majority — the Shias are the majority. But this basic law also shows how the rights of the Kurds and the rights of the Sunnis will be protected in a representative form of government. It's hard, it's difficult. But they want to move in this direction. They want to end the occupation, sure. They also know that they have friends and partners in the United States that will help them during this difficult period.
George Will, ABCNEWS' This Week: It's been an American position from the start that Iraq shall remain a political unit. You say they want to live in freedom. Do they want to live together? Do the Kurds really want to be part of this? And are we producing a constitution that might be the beginning of slow-motion secession?