PERHAPS THE MOST STUNNING REVELATION OF THURSDAY’S IRAQI ELECTION IS THIS: SUNNI “INSURGENTS” ARE MORE COMMITTED TO A PEACEFUL, STABLE, DEMOCRATIC IRAQ THAN THE AMERICAN LEFT. As an unprecedented 11 million Iraqis risked their lives yesterday to vote in that nation’s third free election since January, leftists in this country continued to undermine the military operation that permitted those elections to be held and renewed their call for the only measure that could assure their newfound freedom dissolves into an abyss of hopeless violence: immediate U.S. withdrawal.
Sunnis Participate in Democracy
If any event could vindicate the president’s policy and demand Americans stay the course, Iraq’s parliamentary election was that event. Since the nation’s first free election in a generation this January, every segment of society has staked its future on the political process – including the “insurgents.” In one year, the most disaffected segments of Iraqi society have become politicized and decided – through charity or resignation – that only becoming part of a pluralistic, tolerant, democratic Iraq will give them any hope for the future.
How radically has Sunni opinion changed toward participating in Iraqi democracy? The Iraqi Islamic Army, an anti-American milita group, safeguarded the polls in Ramadi. Last January, there was a widespread Sunni boycott; yesterday, militants went into local neighborhoods to encourage Sunnis to vote. As a result, Sunni turnout in that city increased 4,000 percent over the October referendum.
The New York Times captured the mood in Sunni Iraq, where reporters found, “A new willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, a yearning for Sunnis to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq.”
Polls had to stay open an extra hour due to long lines. Some 80 percent of Saddam’s home province voted. Anbar province ran out of ballots as children danced in its peaceful streets. Four times as many people turned out in Tall Afar this time over last. Even in the former terrorist stronghold of Fallujah – where 70 percent of the populace cast ballots this week – Mayor Dari Abdul Hadi Zubaie said, “Right now, the city is experiencing a democratic celebration.” He compared the municipal euphoria to the Arab world’s most joyful celebration, a wedding. (In fact, a Kurdish couple got married at a polling center.)
Steadily increasing Sunni participation accounts for higher voting rates in each of Iraq’s successive national elections: 58 percent in January, 63 percent in October, and an estimated 71 percent on Thursday.
The higher numbers are fueled by soaring hopes. A 25-year-old Sunni told Western reporters although he felt he lost everything under Saddam, “I'll have all my rights restored through this government.”
Even those who were ineligible to vote wanted to take part in the great national liberation. Former Iraqi General Mustafa Abdul Aziz, who had no right to vote, asked if he could dip his finger in purple ink, in solidarity with his fellow countrymen. “[A]s I dipped my finger in the inkpot, my eyes watered and tears started coming down. That's what we always wanted, a chance to live a free democratic life. I and my family had suffered just to have such a day, and now it has become a reality.”
All this occurred with a minimum of violence, despite jihadist denunciations of voting as “Satanic.” More heartening yet, Iraqi troops “took the lead” in keeping the peace Thursday.
In Washington, President Bush called the election a “major milestone in the march to democracy.” Across the Atlantic, Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed the vote “shows very clearly that, given the choice, the Iraqi people want the same as the rest of us, which is the chance to live under a democratic form of government.”
Blair is right: all segments of Iraqi society have finally decided they want to live in freedom. And that is what the American Left, out of a mix of partisan and ideological reasons, is trying so desperately to deny them.
The Left Committed to Retreat, Defeat, and Surrender
If the leftists had had their way, there would have been no Operation Iraqi Freedom, no toppling of Saddam, no liberation of Baghdad. Iraqis would not be choosing between thousands of candidate to fill the 275 seats of parliament (25 percent of which are reserved for women); Saddam would be the only candidate on the ballot, and he would cap off his inaugural ball by peeping in on his rape rooms and watching his opponents’ children get pushed through plastic shredders.
Now, after the sacrifice of more than 2,000 American soldiers and an estimated 30,000 Iraqi civilians, the American Left wants to cut-and-run as democratic pluralism has captured the hearts of the Iraqi people.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi greeted news of Thursday’s massive democratic triumph by – stepping up calls for an immediate withdrawal. At a press conference, she euphemistically purred, “I think the Iraqi people are ready and willing now to take matters into their own hands.” Sen. Ted Kennedy chimed in, “If America wants a new Iraqi government to succeed, we need to let Iraqis take responsibility for their own future.”
MoveOn.org – the Soros-funded tail currently wagging the Democratic Party dog – plans to respond to this week’s electoral victory by producing a new TV spot calling for complete U.S. withdrawal ASAP, no later than the end of 2006. Like MoveOn, Feingold supports U.S. retreat by the end of ‘06, a position that has won him considerable support from Nation magazine and will likely make him a credible threat to Hillary Clinton’s left-flank in 2008. And ’08 hopeful John Kerry also has big plans, stating, “If we win back the house, I think we have a pretty solid case to bring articles of impeachment against this president” for “misleading” the country into Thursday’s blessed celebration.
All this builds on Rep. John Murtha’s insane resolution for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq – a “redeployment” – which he voted against when the idea was brought before the House just before Thanksgiving.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY, in a floor speech recycled as an official press release for all House Democrats, claimed Murtha “spoke for the majority of our country.” Further:
Our forces are drawing fire, not suppressing it. Their presence on foreign soil is serving as a catalyst for all those who wish to do us, and Iraq, harm. Insurgent attacks are on the rise.
She also decried U.S. GI’s “shameful acts of torture” and called all those who dare question the wisdom of unilateral surrender “name-calling, sand throwing bullies.”
Hers was but one of a host of official pronouncements supporting Murtha white flag resolution.
Murtha was led to call for surrender, because he thinks this war “unwinnable,” averring, “We cannot prevail in this war.”
Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean soon joined in the defeatist chorus, telling San Antonio’s WOAI radio the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which, unfortunately, is just plain wrong.”
Murtha, Dean, Pelosi, Slaughter, Kennedy, and Kerry do not speak for “the majority of our country.” However, ominously, they do speak for the majority of the Democratic Party. A full 59 percent of Democrats agree with Dean’s statement that the Iraq war cannot be won. Although 46 percent of Democrats agreed Iraq would be “worse off if U.S. troops left Iraq now” – and 69 percent of Democrats don’t believe Iraqis can defeat terrorists without U.S. help – a majority of grassroots leftists want us to withdraw, anyway. (View the poll in PDF format; scroll down to pp. 5-6.)
This suicidal tactic would plunge the stabilizing Iraq government into chaos; sign the death warrants of Iraq’s democratically elected officials; give the terrorists invaluable recruiting propaganda by claiming victory over the Great Satan; and, in Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s phrase, leave 7 million Iraqis at the mercy of 10,000 foreign terrorists hell-bent to make Baghdad its new caliphate. Allah’s avenging angels would be sure to visit his deadly wrath upon all the “infidels” who participated in an “anti-Islamic” election they clearly proscribed.
And this is the fate John Murtha claims the Iraqis want. For more than a month, he has selectively cited poll data that “over 80 percent of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of Coalition forces.” True, those same polls indicate the Iraqis want us to leave as soon as possible – after the democratically elected government is firmly established, its security forces are adequately trained, and its police are capable of defending themselves from jihadists. As recently as Thursday, Sunnis – the “occupation’s” most implacable foes – said they wanted a phased withdrawal. “Let's have stability, and then the Americans can go home,” said one. He said if that is President Bush’s policy, “Then Bush has said it correctly.”
And, thankfully, that is America’s policy – at least for now.
The House passed a resolution late this week calling immediate withdrawal “fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory.” The measure says American troops will remain in the nation “only until Iraqi forces can stand up so our forces can stand down, and no longer than is required for that purpose.”
A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi, without a hint of irony, asserted this resolution was “playing politics with the Iraq war.”
This simple plan – peace through victory – has remained the cornerstone of our policy since the beginning of our engagement. Colin Powell famously remarked that America has never demanded more foreign territory than it took to bury our soldiers. President Bush told the Washington Post in January, “The way I would put it is, American troops will be leaving as quickly as possible, but they won't be leaving until we have completed our mission, and part of the mission is to train Iraqis so they can fight the terrorists.” Six months later, he said, “As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”
On Wednesday, Condoleeza Rice in a speech at the Heritage Foundation:
President Bush has answered, defining victory as the establishment of a free and democratic Iraq that can guarantee the freedom, meet the needs and defend the rights of all its citizens…[V]ictory, like democracy itself, will be a steady but definable process that will not be won overnight.
And this week, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told Iraqis that our troops “will stand along with you” for as long as it takes for Iraqis to manage their own affairs. “And the sooner, the better.”
In other words, President Bush is committed to victory – not just for the good of the Iraqi people, whom we are now obligated to look after – but because only victory in Iraq will crush the al-Qaeda terrorist assault in its central front.
But just as one can see the light at the end of the tunnel, just as troop reductions might become a possibility, the Left continues to push for an immediate withdrawal that would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, slaughter innocent Iraqis, and leave Americans more vulnerable than ever to an emboldened worldwide terrorist enemy.
Two thousand Americans did not die for that. Thirty thousand Iraqis did not die for that. And 27 million Iraqis deserve better than to see their hopes of liberty and self-determination – just on the cusp of realization – destroyed by cynical or ideologically crazed partisans so they can bring down a president they despise.