SOVEREIGNTY: 1. supreme power or authority. 2. the authority of a state to govern itself. 3. a self-governing state. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition.)
THERE are three words I am becoming very tired of just now: Freedom, Democracy, Sovereignty. They are, of course, words expressing noble concepts and one should never tire of them. But currently they are being abused and over-worked by politicians talking about the future of Iraq; by US President George W Bush in particular. In the course of the past week, while closely following events in Texas and Washington, I have heard him make countless references to Iraq regaining or assuming its sovereignty on 30 June when the authority of the occupying Coalition will end. Although it is not yet known what form of interim government will assume power on that date, it is crystal clear that none of the definitions of Sovereignty I have provided will describe the new state of affairs.

THE interim government will not hold “supreme power” nor will it have “the authority to govern itself”. The extent of its independence has yet to be determined and, hopefully, it will be greater with United Nations guidance than if it had simply been an enlarged version of the American-appointed Iraq Governing Council, as had once seemed likely. But in the essential matter of security the power will still remain with the United States whose army of 135'000 men and women will be the only guarantor of stability for the forseeable future. This may not matter so much in the short term but the elected government and assembly, due to be in place early in 2005, will surely not accept such a diminished concept of Sovereignty?


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