WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are an impatient lot. We require movies on demand, fast food from drive thru windows, express oil changes, rapid air travel and high speed Internet service. "Just-in-time" deliveries have eliminated the need for expensive warehousing and inventories. When we want it -- we want it now!
Our eagerness for instant results has served as a stimulus to the U.S. economy, inspired scientific progress and promoted advances in technology. We now build homes and commercial structures in days and weeks that used to take months and years.
But when it comes to constructing institutions of democracy, the desire for immediate outcomes is a vice rather than a virtue. That was the case with our own radical experiment in representative government; and that's the situation today in Iraq.
On June 30, the United States will hand over sovereignty in Iraq to an interim government. This temporary authority -- an entity comprised of people selected by Iraqis, not Americans or the United Nations -- will in turn arrange for nationwide elections in January 2005. Last week, the Interim Iraqi president, Ghazi al-Yawar, visited the United States, thanked the American people for the sacrifices we have made in liberating his country and offered assurances that, despite the difficulties, things are on track for a real democratic government in Baghdad. There is of course one pre-condition -- the transition to democracy will only work as long as the U.S.-led coalition continues to stay the course.
Therein lies the rub -- staying the course. According to recent public opinion surveys, a majority of both the American people and the population of Iraq have lost patience with our efforts to bring democracy to Baghdad. Fifteen months after the fall of Saddam's statue in Firdus Square, and six months after the cowering despot was dragged from a rat hole, most Iraqis and most Americans want U.S. troops out -- now.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.