A Democratic Iraq, But At What Cost?

GENERIC President Bush, Congress, and Iraq
If tomorrow the war was over and there's no more Saddam, you might be amazed at what the U.S. plans next.

As CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, it's nothing less than the full military occupation of Iraq, lasting years, until it is a democracy. The U.S. would govern Iraq, not unlike the way Gen. Douglas MacArthur once governed Japan.

Loren Thompson is one of a handful of analysts and retired officers recently briefed on the occupation plan.

After victory day, the U.S. will install a military commander of Iraq - either war Gen. Tommy Franks, or as some sources believe, his deputy, Gen. John Abizaid, an officer fluent in Arabic.

"There is going to be a U.S. military commander in Iraq after hostilities cease for two reasons: They don't want the weapons of mass destruction to get in the way, and they don't want anyone making grabs for power."

Stability is just the beginning. The plan is to rebuild whatever was destroyed, including any damage to Iraq's oil fields, then to purge Iraq of Saddam's Ba'ath party leadership, just like Germany was de-Nazified. Only then will the U.S. turn over the government - oil ministry included - back to the Iraqis.

"The goal of the U.S. is to put Iraqis in charge of their own affairs as quickly as possible," says Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.

Next, Feith says, Iraq will be pushed toward elections and a representative democracy. The Iraqis will write the next constitution, but they will use an American outline.

In place, Feith says, will be "institutions like multiple power centers, so there are checks and balances and independent judiciary so people can have fair justice.

Congressional leaders have praised the plan's ambition but also bashed the fact there is no price tag. The administration says it can't even guess at the cost - and so - despite estimates in the tens of billions, not one penny is in the budget.

Still, no question, President Bush has moved the goalpost, from regime change to a democratic Iraq. The same President who promised not to nation build now plans the most ambitious foreign restructuring since World War 2.