Recent world news reports would lead us to believe the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom is in sight -- at least the military fighting.
As with all operations, first there is preparation, followed by the surgery, with all its risks, and then there is the recovery. Often the recovery is the longest, most dangerous time. There are risks of infection and complications if proper treatment is not provided.
So it could very well be with Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The President and Britain's Prime Minister met in Northern Ireland this week to discuss post-op Iraq and its treatment. Apparently the British want the United Nations brought back into the discussion and given a role in mapping the future of Iraq.
The idea of having the U.N. playing a major role in the recovery is like letting the patient fend for itself, risking the infection of anti-American attitudes so apparent in the French, German and Russian opposition to the "surgery" in the first place. And where there is the infection of anti-Americanism, the "patient" becomes susceptible to the rise of another Saddam, Osama or worse.
Still, the Iraqis cannot really be left without guidance through this period of recovery. Complications from in-fighting for control could bury the patient before it ever returns to health.
So, what is the best post-operative plan to help Iraq?
Perhaps the U.S. and Britain should create a partnership between trustworthy exiles and inside supporters of Saddam's demise, with a strong cadre of outside advisors assigned to help them make the tough decisions. None of those advisors should have any link to oil companies or other industrial interests that might see the broken country as a place to plunder to fill their own pockets.
Once the infrastructure is firmly in place, real elections should be held to let the Iraqi people decide their own future. The soldiers risking their lives did so for Operation Iraqi Freedom. So let the country be free.