President Bush's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq said yesterday that the administration is "not doing very well" in convincing Iraqis and others in the region that it does not have designs on Iraq's oil or other underhanded motives.
Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan American who is now the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, made his remarks at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His comments contrasted with other administration officials' often glowing rhetoric of progress in Iraq.
Khalilzad offered a seven-point plan for stabilizing the troubled country, but experts questioned whether chaotic conditions there would allow him to set it in motion. Khalilzad pledged to work with Iraqis to help them defeat the insurgency, rebuild key institutions and forge a unified political vision for the future.
During his 21-month tenure in Kabul, Khalilzad is credited by development experts with succeeding in many of the same kinds of post-invasion nation-building challenges that he would face in Iraq.
Noting the chaotic security conditions in Iraq, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said it would be "close to a miracle" if Iraq's new government met its current deadline of Aug. 15 for completing a draft constitution.
"If you're able to go in and accommodate this timetable in success, I'm going to nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize," Biden told Khalilzad.