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Freedom For Iraq By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, October 17, 2005

When the history of freedom in the Middle East is written, this weekend’s vote on the Iraqi constitution may be remembered as a watershed moment. High voter turnout, widespread participation (and approval) by the Sunni minority, and an increasingly effective Iraqi police force all demonstrate a nation struggling toward a democratic, pluralistic future. This is the latest milepost that the Iraqi people are charting a course independent of the mostly foreign-born “insurgents” using their homeland to wage jihad against the Great Satan that purchased their nation’s liberation with its own blood – and once again, as in January’s election, the American Left is on the other side of the great battle for freedom in our time, only seen attempting to minimize and delegitimize the Iraqis' national sovereignty, in order to defame its own country.

The mainstream media have take front and center in this disgraceful process, consistently downplaying the importance of Saturday’s vote. This time,10 million people – some two-thirds of Iraq’s eligible voters – went to the polls, a significant increase from 58 percent in January’s historic election. This did not keep the New York Times from emphasizing an alleged downturn in voters. The spike in participation came amidst the nation’s Sunni voters, who realized they had diminished their importance in a the new democracy by boycotting the previous elections. The new Iraqi constitution makes the former Ba’athist tyranny an official “democratic, federal, representative republic. To be defeated, two-thirds of the voters in at least three of Iraq’s 18 governates had to reject the treaty, a move that gave Sunnis veto power over the document – a power most Sunnis apparently chose not to exercise. As of this writing in the early hours of Monday morning, preliminary returns showed the constitution sweeping all but two heavily Sunni “governates” (provinces). At this time, official are reporting that more than three-quarters of voters in the Sunni-rich province of Nineveh approved the constitution.


Sunnis showed an enthusiastic acceptance of this newfound freedom. Jabar Ahmad Ismail, a 75-year-old Sunni pensioner, told reporters the constitution “gives me hope in God, and in my fellow men,” before calling terrorists “infidels.” Iraqis recalled the intoxicating lure of self-determination during this election. Another voter described the second real Iraqi election in decades thus: “It’s like a party.”


…A party with a rather undiscriminating guest list. Among those eligible to vote was any detainee who had not yet been placed on trial – including Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces, whom the terrorists and the Left portray as brual “occupiers,” set up voting booths in the “gulag” known as Abu Ghraib prison. (How long before Maxine Waters adopts this as a precedent for her pet project of giving the franchise to American felons?)


Otherwise, by all media accounts, American troops were nearly “invisible,” leaving the job of securing the election in the capable hands of Iraq’s 200,0000 indigenous police and footsoldiers – a force the New York Times admits is daily growing in numbers and aptitude. In some areas, Sunnis protected polls from jihadist violence.


It is the Sunni reaction that most threatens al-Qaeda’s designs for the nation. The recently published letter between Ayman Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi confirms what many analysts have long known: Al-Qaeda hopes to secure a beachhead in the Sunni triangle, drive the “Yankees” out of Iraq, then re-establish the caliphate in Iraq before expanding into the broader Mideast. Yes, some Sunnis oppose the constitution on religious grounds. (One Sunni voter said flatly, “It's forbidden to vote yes, because it contradicts Islamic law.”) However, most have cast their votes on political grounds – and have opted for freedom. Thus, terrorists attacked three Sunni parties that endorsed the constitution last Friday.


A religio-political organization like al-Qaeda, populated by True Believers, can only be diminished in three ways: killing its members, permanently disrupting its chain-of-command, and spoiling its recruitment appeal by rendering it ineffective. The Bush administration has been busily accomplishing all three.


Previous American sweeps have killed or captured the vast majority of al-Qaeda’s leadership. Just weeks ago, Pakistani military spokesman, Major General Shaukat Sultan, reported that Osama bin Laden is trapped in the mountains, accompanied by perhaps “dozens” of followers. So isolated is the Saudi scion that his messages take months to be couriered to their destination. In his letter, Zawahiri admonishes his lieutenant that he is losing the media war among fellow Muslims, before begging him for a few hundred thousand dollars.


Now Iraq is rebuffing his organization’s plans to establish an Islamofacist theocracy. The strategic importance of this ratification has not been lost on world leaders. Condoleeza Rice pointedly told “Meet the Press” yesterday, “You defeat an insurgency politically as well as militarily. It will take time, [but] an insurgency cannot ultimately survive without a political base.” President Bush stated on Saturday: “Today's vote deals a severe blow to the ambitions of the terrorists. A clear message to the world that the people of Iraq will decide the future of their country through peaceful elections, not violent insurgency.Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called this constitution “a sign of civilization” and “a new birth.”


Yet this vote has not deprived al-Qaeda of its ultimate hope: that peaceniks will eventually cause Uncle Sam to withdraw from Iraq, just as GIs “ran and left their agents” in Vietnam on orders from a Democratic Congress. However, an engaged, democratic, and self-sufficient Iraq would deprive Zawahiri the base-of-operations of which he fantasizes.


The coverage of the leftist, “mainstream” media must have given him hope. The Washington Post devolved into tabloid sensationalism, using a cover story putatively about how the Iraqi people ratified the constitution to recycle Sunni conspiracy theories:


“I believe they will rig the results and announce the success of the referendum, but our monitors reported to us that more than 80 percent of the voters in three governorates have said no to this draft,” Saleh Mutlaq, a spokesman for the Sunnis' National Dialogue Council, told reporters at a news conference…“This constitution is a menace to the unity and stability of Iraq, and we shall have no legal or legitimate means in order to defeat it.”


The left-wing blog the Daily Kos also hinted there may be substance behind Sunni charges of U.S. corruption in a post that concludes, “It matters what the Sunni think.” [sic.]


Other leftists share the Sunnis’ and terrorists’ disappointment. “This thing is an enormous fiasco,” said the leftist had of the Middle East Studies Association Juan Cole, who believes Sunni opposition “really undermines [the constitution’s] legitimacy, and this result guarantees the guerrilla war will go on.” Cole, a Middle East “scholar” at the University of Michigan, has written that President Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to give Ariel Sharon cover to steal Arab land.


On the eve of the vote, Ted Kennedy lambasted President Bush for not spelling out an exit plan, claiming Bush “pushed victory further from our reach.” John Kerry likewise blamed him for creating “a terrorist mess in Iraq that didn't exist before the invasion” an absurd but popular theory "the devil  made them do it theory" which argues that terrorists are ceated by their victims. Writing for Z magazine, anti-American leftist Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies described the new constitution as a “text largely crafted and imposed by U.S. occupation authorities and their Iraqi dependents, and thus lacking in legal or political legitimacy.” This recalls Kerry’s words that the January vote possessed only “a kind of legitimacy.” The legitimacy, of course, is that we are in a Iraq to liberate a country from a monster regime and to establish a democracy. Presumably, if Saddam had invited us in to perform this favor, Bennis and Kerry would regard that as legitimate. 

Thanks to the Bush administration, Iraq is establishing itself as a bulwark of democratic freedom, step-by-difficult-step. The achievement of a democracy would insulate that nation against its explitation by international terrorists who want to return its political system to the 7th century and establish a new caliphate – which is why the terrorists are fighting so hard: they recognize they are losing and that this is a decisive battle in the War on Terror. A loss in Iraq would deny al-Qaeda a base protected by national sovereignty and fueled by massive reserves of oil. It would set back terrorism for decades, though not for good. Iraq’s chrysalis, from authoritarian fascist state to autonomous republic, should be applauded by every friend of freedom on its own merits. But the international Left has not been on the side of freedom since the fall of the 19th century monarchies -- or since Hitler attacked his former partner the Soviet Union. In the face of the most stunning political metamorphosis since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Left can only rage against against the world's beacon of democracy, which it regards as the Great Satan, and an oppressed people struggling to be free, which the Left in its infinite compassion regards as the exploited puppet of the country it hates.

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Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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