(FinalCall.com) – Regime change; eliminate weapons of mass destruction; liberation of the people; establish democracy. These are the key reasons that President Bush gave for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Of those reasons, only one apparently has been accomplished. The government of President Saddam Hussein is gone, and the U.S. military is pursuing members of his administration. Still, Saddam Hussein, like Osama bin Laden, remains elusive.

Despite the frantic search by the military, weapons of mass destruction have not been uncovered. That search will intensify over the next few weeks as teams of U.S. scientists and weapons experts arrive in the country. Needless to say, weapons will be found, one way or another.


But the most daunting task lies ahead for the country. In a land torn by years of ethnic, political and religious strife and persecution–much of it sparked by acts of its colonial past and the harsh hand of the government of Mr. Hussein–keeping a lid on the kettle as the pain of the years emerge from the people will be a challenge for the Bush administration.

“The Iraqi people have been liberated” is the catch phrase emanating from the White House. “Democracy” can now usher forth. The people are free.

Are they?

Liberation, according to the Bush administration, has been defined as the toppling of Mr. Hussein, which they did. What is the Bush administration’s definition of freedom?

Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jay Garner has been brought in as civil administrator for post-war Iraq, and Ahmad Chalabi, the exiled leader of the Iraqi National Congress, one of several prominent exile groups, has been touted potentially as Iraq’s next leader.

Speaking of a democratic process, how much say has the Iraqi masses had into these decisions? Do they agree that Mr. Garner, who has a strong leaning toward Israel, should be the civil administrator? Why would Pres. Bush choose such a person? Would Mr. Chalabi be the Iraqis’ choice as leader of the interim government?

Meanwhile, there is concern that a new government dominated by the Shi’a majority population could evolve into a “theocracy” instead of a “democracy,” somewhat similar to what exists in Iran. And we know what the United States thinks about Iran. How free are Iraqis now, through a democratic process, to evolve into a theocracy?

There were recent protests in Iraq where Sunni and Shi’a Muslims demonstrated to say, “Thanks, Mr. Bush, but now, get out!” Obviously, the U.S. military plans to stay for a while to establish a government and set up systems by which the oil and other humanitarian supplies can flow into Iraq. They will be there for a while to watch U.S. corporations cash in on the Iraqi Marshall Plan. But there will come a time when the U.S. forces and administrators will be asked to leave. There may even come a time when a future Iraqi government, free of Saddam Hussein, may decide they want to reclaim control of their oil and other resources.

How free will they be then?

The road ahead for Iraq is long and difficult. Her true “friends” will want to see a peaceful transition of power in the country and see the resources of the country benefit all of its people.

The Iraqi people will have to settle their differences for the good of the country. Their “friends” will have to help the new government–whatever kind it is–to realize that its people yearn to see the country emerge as a leader of civilization and cultural expression that it once was. The people want to contribute their talents to make it so.

President Bush says he’s a “friend” of the Iraqi people. Time will tell how much of a “friend” he really is.