Thursday, April 24, 2003

War Won… Easily – Now the Difficult Part

So much has happened since my last entry. The war is effectively won. Baghdad, instead of turning into a Saddamite Stalingrad, fell like a house of cards. Our military has had a brilliant, incredible victory at an amazingly low cost in lives lost – American and Iraqi. The statues of Saddam have been torn down. The Iraqi people are freer, even under American occupation than they have been in at any time in their history.

And, as a result of this newfound freedom, a great many of the majority Shiite population are demonstrating for (well… demanding really) a fundamentalist Islamic state a la Iran. Government offices and non-government sites (like hospitals) in Baghdad have been looted. Antiquities have been stolen (not looted… it looks more and more like an inside job) from the Iraqi Museum

Meanwhile, our old “allies” the French and Germans as well as our old enemy Russia are pushing for United Nations control in the reconstruction of Iraq. The weasels are once again contorting themselves like the slinky, elongated, carnivorous rats they are. Before the liberation of Iraq, they claimed that sanctions were killing the Iraqi people. Now that the U.S. is in country, they are using the “Oil for Food” program as a lever to pry open the door and let the UN bureaucrats in. Hans Blix wants to resume arms inspections… to test a regime that no longer exists.

This has nothing to do, of course with the juicy oil contracts that the weasels had with the Saddam regime.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media take on this “Chaos!” How could the US let this happen? We’re such Philistines… we care nothing for culture (Hand meh mah gun, wilya Cletus, I gotta shoot me somethin’.). Oh shit, the French were right about us.

All of this is simply noise and we must keep our head in the game. There is much work to do in Iraq. The distractions will be many and for a long time the rewards will be thin.

There was a photograph of the Shiite anti-US demonstration that showed a boy holding a sign that said “BUSH = SADDAM”. We must show the Iraqi people that this is patently false. In fact, the demonstration and sign themselves prove the statement an untruth. If Saddam and his Baathist thugs were still in power, there would have been no protest and no sign. The boy would have been killed or hauled off to a children’s prison.

This new (and temporary) boss is not the same as the old boss. We must show the Iraqi people by our actions and attitude that this is true. We must, whenever possible allow the free expression of the Iraqi people.

However, the United States and its coalition cannot allow an Islamic theocracy based on the Iranian model to take hold in Iraq. The mullahs in Iran would like nothing better than to have a carbon copy of itself on their western border. There is evidence that Iranian clerics and agents have infiltrated the impoverished Shiite communities in southern Iraq and are manipulating public opinion there.

Note to Iran and Shiite extremists in Iraq: We did not spend American blood to play midwife another post-Shah Iran… period… full stop. Back off.

This will not be allowed to happen. Post-Saddam Iraq will be guided into a pluralistic, liberal, constitutional democracy. It must be a place in which Shiites can follow the tenants of their religion in their own way. They must be allowed to dress as they choose, worship as they choose, abstain from alcohol as they choose. However, they (nor any other religious faction) can be allowed to limit the religious or personal freedoms of other Iraqis, group or individual.

I’m sorry, but in this endeavor, cultural sensitivity for the Shiite fundamentalists be dammed. I’m willing to show Islamists as much cultural sensitivity as they show to mine… namely none. Extremist Islam is a threat to Western Civilization that must be eliminated root and branch. This must be done for one reason only. Not because they dress differently than us. Not because their belief system objectifies individual human life (especially female humans) as only being valuable in service to a very demanding and picky deity. Islam in this form is a totalitarian theocratic state. Once in power, they will tolerate nothing outside of the mullah’s view of Islamic law and tradition.

We need to be patient (unfortunately not a prime American virtue…) with the reconstruction process. We need to be sensitive to Iraqi and Islamic culture and as accommodating as possible. We need to be strong, sensitive and even ruthless when the need arises. And we need to insure that when we leave Iraq, a tolerant, constitutional government guaranteeing the freedoms that we Americans take for granted is our gift to the Iraqi people.

I plan to be a watchdog on this issue in this forum and to be critical of our government if we try to slink out of Iraq when the going gets tough. We’ve spent American blood on this thing and there can be no excuse for leaving this cake half-baked. It will take years… probably decades (think of how long we’ve had those military bases in Germany and Japan) to get this job done. We owe it to our young men and women who died (not to mention all of the Iraqi civilians and helpless army conscripts who were sacrificed) to do this.

I’m Back

I ‘m not sure how many faithful readers I have out there. But, for those of you who do not know me or my family, I was compelled to take a hiatus during the last couple of weeks. My wife had a brain tumor (a benign meningioma) removed at the University of Iowa on April 10th. Yep… it was a biggie. You don’t get life events much bigger than this.

The good news is that she’s doing quite nicely. Her surgeons did a tremendous job and it looks as if she will fully recover.

Needless to say, I did not have a great deal of time for blogging during her hospital stay. She’s at home now. Things are getting back to relative normal. And it’s time to get back to it.