Negroponte talks Iraq

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte addressed the state of U.S. involvement in Iraq in an event hosted by The Middle East Policy Forum at the Elliott School of International Affairs on Thursday.

During his lecture Negroponte discussed U.S. progress in stabilizing Iraq and the Iraqi government’s progress in establishing a multi-ethnic government. He praised the current Iraqi administration for their “moderate course” and noted that violence fell 80 percent since 2006.

“Security is the foundation for broader progress,” Negroponte said.

He added that while the U.S. wishes to help Iraq rebuild its infrastructure, it has no intention of creating a permanent presence there.

“We’ll only stay as long as we’re welcome to do so,” he said. “Our goal is an Iraq that is federal, democratic and unified.”

Negroponte pointed to numerous signs of Iraqi progress in this venture, but he said all such progress was “fragile and reversible.”

Discussion on postwar Iraq arose during the question-and-answer session as well, and Negroponte stressed the need for Congress to approve more Foreign Service positions.

As a career diplomat, Negroponte served in numerous high-profile posts. He rose to prominence during the current presidential administration and was the first to serve as director of national intelligence.

During the question-and-answer session, his answers touched on a broader range of issues including U.S. expenditures in Iraq and Iranian weapons that were smuggled into Iraq. Negroponte pointed out that a strong and healthy Iraq would be a great advantage in dealing with Iran.

Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm Jr., a GW professor and former ambassador to Kuwait, moderated the event. Gnehm said Iraq plays an important role in American life.

“My children and grandchildren will deal with the ramifications of this cataclysm,” Gnehm said, adding, “I have great confidence that it will turn out right.”

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