Alexander advocates Iraq rebuilding proposal

Photo by Thomas Wilson
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., took in a performance of "The Wataugans" at Sycamore Shoals State Park Friday night.

By Thomas Wilson

Sen. Lamar Alexander compares rebuilding Iraq with the post-World War II Marshall Plan when the U.S. and its allies franchised democracy across Europe.
He believes the same is possible with a concerted effort by the United States starting with the controversial $87 billion supplement appropriation package proposed by President Bush.
"I think most Americans, when we think about it, will see that we must do this," said Alexander, who took in a performance of "The Wataugans" at Sycamore Shoals State Park on Friday night.
President Bush proposed an $87 billion supplemental package to fund the U.S. military effort in Iraq and fund government infrastructure development in the country. The $87 billion appropriates $60 billion to support the 150,000 member U.S. military force stationed in Iraq. "There is no question we have to do that," he said. The remaining $27 billion is to help rebuild the nation's infrastructure including rebuilding an army, police force, and postal system.
Alexander said the lessons of World Wars I and II demonstrated the establishment of democracy and economic prosperity was the best salve to a nation defeated in war.
"After World War I, we left Germany in ruins, we sent them a bill for the war and created a breeding ground for Hitler," he said. "In World War II, we instituted the Marshall Plan, invested $13 billion over four years and built democracies in 21 European countries that became our allies.
"We don't want to leave Iraq a breeding ground for terrorism."
President Bush, in a Sept. 23 speech at the opening of this year's U.N. General Assembly session, condemned all terrorist acts and said the wars the past two years in Afghanistan and Iraq were part of the struggle against the terrorist threat. He said the United Nations "can contribute greatly" to rebuilding Iraq, suggesting U.N. assistance in developing a constitution, training civil servants, and conducting elections.
In a speech to the U.N. on Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Iraq could form a government to take over from the Coalition Provisional Authority in approximately one year. U.S. officials have begun mending fences with many European countries -- notably France and Germany -- to marshal support for U.N. and international involvement in rebuilding Iraq.
Several western European countries including France and Germany opposed the U.S.-led coalition to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. Their opposition forged a bitterness between the U.S. and many long-time allies.
"It would make it a lot easier to win the peace if we had some help," Alexander said. He said several countries including France and Germany could start by forgiving the $200 billion national debt accumulated during the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Alexander has championed a greater emphasis on the subjects of civics and history in public schools. "We're losing our national memory," he said. "Our children are remembering growing up knowing what it means to be an American," he said, "and a place like this helps remind us what it means to be an American."
Alexander said the steel of national identity was particularly important given the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The junior senator made a day of it in the Tri-Cities region appearing at the opening day of the Centennial Celebration of the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Johnson City on Friday morning. The former governor said his 7th generation grandfather, John Alexander, was one of the pioneers at the Battle of Kings Mountain and a member of the first Washington County Court of lawmakers.