A Message For Iraqis

AP Photo
Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

This week marks the third anniversary of America's invasion of Iraq and tomorrow the President will deliver the first in a new series of speeches on why we must persevere.

We need to hear his reasons. We're in a situation now where none of us-- those who believed we had to invade and disarm Saddam and those who opposed it--can say with any real certainty what action will guarantee success.

But it's the Iraqis who need an explanation more than we do. What needs to be explained to them is this: if you can't stop killing each other and form a government, we can't help you.

On this broadcast last week, Senator Richard Lugar, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said it comes down to whether Iraqis want to be Sunnis and Shiites, or if they really want to come together and be Iraqis.

In a sardonic column, my friend Tom Friedman, of the New York Times picked Vice President Cheney to deliver just that message because he said Cheney can deliver it in the toughest way.

What must stop is the ongoing government effort to sugar coat it--trying to blame it on the media or saying it's going "very, very well," as our top general Peter Pace did last week.

The Iraqis take that to mean we believe their excuses, and continue to dawdle.

At this table last week, Congressman John Murtha said it's not a "we problem, it's a them problem."

The Iraqis need to be told that. Sure, threatening to leave is a risk, but when people realize they HAVE to do something to survive and they are the only ones to do it, they generally give it their best effort.

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By Bob Schieffer