December 3, 2005
My Outlook on the Iraq War
In response to your statements on Iraq, I offer the following bold retort: The Neoconservatives were right. American forces liberated 30 million people in Iraq, creating a wave of democratic fervor in Iraq, and across the Middle East. One only has to look at the elections in Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, the reaction of Iranian students calling for Bush to speak more loudly about the evil of their government, the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, and the subsequent statement by a Lebanese leader that, "George Bush has knocked down the Berlin Wall of the Arab world." I just watched a Nightline reporter interview a broad sample of Iraqis, including men and women, Shia and Sunnis, and professionals as well as students. Almost all of them said that they are better off without Saddam Hussein in power, and that they look forward to their bright future of liberty. One man said, "Our children will know of the sacrifices American families made to liberate us." I sense much more optimism and hope in these people than in our own elected officials, including both the liberal and conservative critics. To say that Arabs are not ready for democracy is to say that there is something unique to their culture that obstructs the inherent human desire for liberty. I do not buy that argument for one minute. The "insurgents" are the minority in Iraq, and the majority of Iraqis gave them the proverbial "purple finger" by voting for a Constitution. Their turnout rate was higher than that of our own Presidential election. Furthermore, only four provinces in Iraq face constant violence and terrorism. The rest of Iraq is relatively secure, and is probably safer than Prince George's county in Maryland, where people kill each other every day. In twelve days Iraqis will elect their own parliamentary government, and American troops will provide most of the security. Over the next year or so, Iraqis will have to take more of the security responsibility from the American troops. It will be their country again, and our troops will move to the rear as the Iraqis move to the forefront. Rightly so. This will be the beginning of the return of true sovereignty in Iraq. Why do I disagree that Iraq is a "failure"? Because I have talked to Iraqis and American troops who have been there and say that there are many good things going on there, despite increasing violence in some areas. As one Kurdish fellow asked an anti-war activist in D.C. a couple of weeks ago, "Why don't you support the liberation of my people." This young man obviously felt betrayed by those who would rather see Saddam continue to rule Iraq with an iron fist then take a chance with the Iraqi people. Iraqis need leaders who will at least try to build a more representative government, one that protects women from theocratic and bigoted fanatics who would oppress them in the name of Islam. These leaders will inevitably come from the citizenry, building their communities on the local level. These common people are the strength of the Iraqi people, just as in most other societies. Despite what kind of government is elected, it cannot be worse than that of a brutal dictator who fed people into shredders, threatened his neighbors and vowed revenge against these United States. No, Iraq will not be a completely free market nation with the same enumerated rights as the US Constitution, but the society will be much better than any other Arab country, and much better than Iraq was under the Baathists. In time, if we can be so patient, Iraqi industry will flourish and foreign investments in the country will provide the capital and infrastructure to sustain lasting economic growth. Seeing that their lives are better off in this system, young Arab males will have less of a reason to join and fight a jihad against an "enemy" that they should be trading with instead. This current generation of Iraqis may not be prepared for that relationship ( although many are ), but surely their children will grow up in a better environment than their parents, and will realize the benefits of building things instead of destroying them. Although my outlook might prove to be wrong as time goes on, I firmly believe that we must at least try to inject some semblance of representative government in that part of the world. To do otherwise, to continue to support corrupt regimes, or turn the other way and pretend they do not exist, is a disservice to the world. More importantly, it is a disservice to our own ideals, the idea of American exceptionalism and what Ronald Reagan called "the last, best hope for mankind." That being said, in the end, history will be the final arbiter of our different views on the war. I for one would like to tell my children that I always believed in the prospect of liberty, not only for my own countrymen, but for all of humanity.