Published January 13, 2015
Iraqis gave largely negative reviews Wednesday to President Bush's speech to the United Nations (search) in which he said Washington would not be forced into a hasty return of power to local authorities.
Some longed for the return of a different kind of power — electricity — so that they can lead normal lives, and perhaps see such news on television.
"I did not see Bush's speech," said Kamal Taha, a university student in Baghdad. "The electricity was off because of damage done by the United States during the war. Bush should fix the damage so that we would be able to listen and see his speeches."
A member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (search), however, said he agreed with Bush's policy of holding power in American hands until Iraqis can elect their own government. Washington is under heavy pressure from France to speed the process.
"I don't know what Mr. Bush declared ... authority can be transferred to the Iraqi people in an easy, transitional way. There's no autonomy. There's only independence, full independence. This is what we are looking for and we are trying to achieve," said Iyad Allawi (search), who will become council president Oct. 1.
"Our fear is that they (the French) are using Iraq as a scapegoat to settle differences with the United States. ... Apparently the French are trying to settle some scores. I wish they had consulted us," Allawi said, speaking English.
Five months after Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq, much of the country is still frustrated by the lack of basic services.
Iraqis also complained about security. Crime has increased dramatically since the fall of Saddam Hussein, and U.S. forces continue to come under attack, with civilians sometimes caught in the crossfire.
"Bush's speech was bad. He talked about liberating Iraqi people while the reality is that the Americans liberated only the criminals and bad people who are looting the country," said Anmar Mohammed, a former military officer who is now unemployed.
"He talked about Iraq being the front line for combating terrorism, while it was Bush's war that brought terrorists to our country. He talked about better life for the Iraqis, while now most of them are jobless," he said.
Hani Jacob, a 40-year-old optician, agreed.
"What is the benefit of having a democratic system in the middle of this chaos?" he asked.
In the first gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly (search) since the United States toppled Saddam, Bush was unapologetic about the war and its chaotic aftermath and unyielding on U.S. terms for creating a democratic government.
"This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis — neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties," Bush said in a clear reference to French, Russian and German objections to a long-term U.S. occupation in Iraq.
Abdel-Razq Mohammed, a newspaper vendor, said Bush ignored the United Nations before the war but now wants the world body to bail him out.
"Bush said many nice words about freedom, security and prosperity, but the Iraqi people need to see action. Saddam would have done better with less words," he said.