It’s Liberation, Stupid!

If there’s one thing that we have learned from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it is that the status quo is unacceptable. We have also learned by the very demographic of the attackers that it’s not poverty that breeds terrorism. Repressive governments breed terrorism. They do so in order to maintain power. A key move to preserve power is for dictators to redirect their people’s anger and hatred at the West. Blame Israel, blame America and blame the West. Never look to your own leadership and to your own society. This isn’t new. Dictators have scapegoated others to maintain power since Hitler blamed the Jews. Since Stalin blamed everyone. Since Mao blamed ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and ‘capitalist roaders.’ Whose side have the so-called “peace activists” been on? At every protest, there have been Iraqi expatriates shouting at the top of their lungs, not only supporting a US invasion into Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, but also shouting that the protestors do not represent them or the Iraqi people. We armed Saddam Hussein? Saddam’s army has fought with Russian tanks and French aircraft (that never left the ground – surprise). Their rifles were Russian AK-47s and their anti-tank weapons were Russian, as well. Their anti-aircraft systems were Russian SA-7’s and French Rolands. Another argument was that “revolution had to come from within.” In 1991, after Desert Storm, before 12 years of sanctions, we urged exactly that, and then when the Shia rose up, we stepped back. They were slaughtered and gassed by the tens of thousands by Saddam Hussein. The U.S. was then prompted to protect them in the South and the Kurds in the North by imposing no-fly-zones. Of couurse, their betrayal by us and our half-hearted attempt at restitution only succeeded in prolonging their suffering. But even then, the Kurds were able to form a democratic autonomous government in their protected area. However, 12 years of sanctions only allowed Saddam to consolidate his power, to murder his political enemies, to get richer. Those 12 years worth of sanctions also allowed him to support terrorist groups like Hamas (which denies Israel’s basic right to exist) and Ansar al-Islam (a group tied to Al Qaeda) and to economically depress his people. He bears responsibility for that, but we share by not having had the political will to finish the job the first time. Who has the “peace movement” been defending? The Iraqi people? After three weeks of warfare, the Iraqi people have more freedom than they have had in a generation. Some innocent people have died, and that is a tragedy, but it was incredible to see the unrestrained joy of the Iraqi people last week, not only in Shia and Kurdish controlled areas, but in Baghdad itself. Once recognizing that we were not going to abandon them this time, Baghdad residents threw flowers at Coalition tanks and Marines, chanted and danced in the streets and beat pictures of Saddam with the bottoms of their shoes. All of this would have earned them, one month ago, the torture and death of not only themselves but their entire families. We KNEW, too! “Human Shields” that went to “protect” the Iraqis came back disillusioned. They were jaded by stories of, say, an Iraqi taxi driver who said that if we DIDN’T invade this time, he would commit suicide. They were downtrodden with tales of post-liberation Iraqi marchers carrying signs reading “Go Home Human Shields You US Wankers.” Protestors have the right to continue to mutter their silly slogans while sipping chai tea and wallowing in their bitterness. When the actual people who have lived in Iraq are out in the streets, taking down Saddam’s statue and dragging the head through the streets while hugging their Coalition liberators – the argument is over. Now we have the responsibility of leaving Iraq better than we found it. There is now a realistic hope for a free, liberated and democratic Iraq. We must guarantee that such an ideal has the chance to be born – and then and only then will this have been a success.