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Lugar: U.S. 'ill-prepared' for postwar Iraq


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democracy in Iraq is at least five years away, but the United States has not adequately prepared for postwar reconstruction, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.

Interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, did not back down from his comments in The Wall Street Journal calling the White House and its choice to administer the country, retired U.S. Army Gen. Jay Garner, "ill-prepared."

"They started very late," he told NBC. "The military strategy, tactics and execution have been brilliant. But we needed to be doing something similar with this [in the reconstruction phase]."

Lugar said it was not clear to Congress or the American people "what the costs are."

He also warned that holding elections in Iraq before the people and country are ready for them would be "disastrous."

Lugar said that U.S. nation-building efforts would benefit from training a new kind of civil servant, who would be "prepared to come and bring some hope, some cohesion."

The senator also said that former Soviet republics pose a greater nuclear threat than Iraq.

He said those countries have 6,000 warheads on missiles. The missiles are not aimed at the United States but that they could be, he said. He added that those countries have about 40,000 metric tons of chemical stocks that have not been accounted for.

"Working with the Russians in securing and destroying it should be a key objective," he said.

In the Middle East, Lugar said the U.S.-led war in Iraq gives the United States a chance to "really radiate our ideas and our influence."

"My guess is we're going to see a lot of changes backed by the fact that there always is a military option," he said.


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