Iowa Congressman Jim Leach says there’s a long road ahead for the United States in helping rebuild postwar Iraq. Leach, a republican who’s a member of the House foreign relations committee, says while there’s good news about the war’s anticipated conclusion, he’s also heard the anger from other countries that see U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf as intrusive.He says the “hot war” is in some ways the most manageable task, he says and “winning the peace” may be the hardest part and might take years. Leach says the president clearly thinks the U.S. should lead the ongoing recovery effort in the Persian Gulf. For a period of time Leach says it’s the only practical way to handle it, though he says the question is how long that period will turn out to be. Leach says it’s clear that as U.S. troops move in Iraq, some residents there are hostile to our soldiers while others welcome their arrival. Ironically, he hears through the House International Relations committee that there’s more support in Iraq for U.S. intervention there than there is in the rest of the Muslim world — Leach estimates while our support may be about 75-percent in the region, in Iraq it’s about 50-50. Leach says there’s obviously risk in doing nothing, just as there is in intervening in the region, and it’ll be “quite a while” whether it’s clear that our engagement produced longterm benefits that outweigh the downside. Iowa’s second-district congressman says if the long term proves that this war reduced terrorism and brought peace, the United States will be seen in a good light, but will take blame if terrorism continues or increases. Leach says in both Europe and the Middle East there are countries whose criticism of the U.S. is really based on issues other than the war.
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