Friday, March 5, 2010
Newsweek: "Victory At Last - The Emergence Of A Democratic Iraq" -- Bush Was Right!!
This is a fabulous article about the rising of a democracy. This article is about the emergence of a democracy in Iraq. Victory seems to be in the air. This would never have been possible without President Bush and our brave men and women serving in the military. Thank God for freedom. Freedom is one of America's core principles and that is exactly what former President Bush and our troops helped to spread. Freedom Reigns!!! God Bless America!! You can look at some Iraq street scenes here.
Rebirth of a Nation
Something that looks an awful lot like democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq. It may not be 'mission accomplished'â€”but it's a start.
By Babak Dehghanpisheh, John Barry and Christopher Dickey
Published FebÂ 26, 2010
From the magazine issue dated Mar 8, 2010
"Iraqi democracy will succeed," President George W. Bush declared in November 2003, "and that success will send forth the news from Damascus to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation." The audience at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington answered with hearty applause. Bush went on: "The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."
In Iraq, meanwhile, an insurgency was growing, terrorism was spreading, and American forces were in a state of near panic. They had begun rounding up thousands of the Iraqis they had come to "liberate," dragging them from their homes in the middle of the night and throwing them into Abu Ghraib Prison. At the time of Bush's speech, some of those detainees were being tortured and humiliated. Iraq had entered a spiral of gruesome violence that would kill scores of thousands of its people and cost more than 4,000 U.S. military personnel their lives. American taxpayers month after month, year after yearâ€”and to this dayâ€”would spend more than $1.5Â billion per week just to keep hundreds of thousands of beleaguered troops on the ground, fearful that if they withdrew too quickly, or at all, the carnage would grow worse and war, not democracy, would spread throughout the region.
Bush's rhetoric about democracy came to sound as bitterly ironic as his pumped-up appearance on an aircraft carrier a few months earlier, in front of an enormous banner that declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And yet it has to be said and it should be understoodâ€”now, almost seven hellish years laterâ€”that something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq. And while it may not be a beacon of inspiration to the region, it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.
The elections to be held in Iraq on March 7 feature 6,100 parliamentary candidates from all of the country's major sects and many different parties. They have wildly conflicting interests and ambitions. Yet in the past couple of years, these politicians have come to see themselves as part of the same club, where hardball political debate has supplanted civil war and legislation is hammered out, however slowly and painfully, through compromisesâ€”not dictatorial decrees or, for that matter, the executive fiats of U.S. occupiers. Although protected, encouraged, and sometimes tutored by Washington, Iraq's political class is now shaping its own systemâ€”what Gen. David Petraeus calls "Iraqracy." With luck, the politics will bolster the institutions through which true democracy thrives.
Of course, as U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Christopher Hill says, "the real test of a democracy is not so much the behavior of the winners; it will be the behavior of the losers." Even if the vote comes off relatively peacefully, the maneuvering to form a government could go on for weeks or months. Elections in December 2005 did not produce a prime minister and cabinet until May 2006. And this time around the wrangling will be set against the background of withdrawing American troops. Their numbers have already dropped from a high of 170,000 to fewer than 100,000, and by August there should be no more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers left in the country. If political infighting turns to street fighting, the Americans may not be there to intervene.
Anxiety is high, not least in Washington, where Vice President Joe Biden now chairs a monthly cabinet-level meeting to monitor developments in Iraq. But a senior White House official says the group is now "cautiously optimistic" about developments there. "The big picture in Iraq is the emergence of politics," he notes. Indeed, what's most strikingâ€”and least commented uponâ€”is that while Iraqi politicians have proved noisy, theatrical, inclined to storm off and push confrontations to the brink, in recent years they have always pulled back.
Think about what's happened just in the last month. After a Shiite--dominated government committee banned several candidates accused of ties to the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, there were fears that sectarian strife could pick up again. Saleh al-Mutlaq, who heads one of the largest Sunni parties, was disqualified. He says he tried complaining to the head of the committee, Ahmad Chalabi, and even met with the Iranian ambassador, thinking Tehran had had a hand in what he called these "dirty tricks"â€”but to no avail.
Two weeks later Mutlaq nervously paced the garden of the massive Saddam--era Al-Rashid Hotel as he weighed his dwindling options. "I got a call from the American Embassy today," he said, grimly. "They said, 'Most of the doors are closed. There's nothing left for us to work.'Â " He shook his head. "The American position is very weak."
But what's most interesting is what did not happen. There was no call for violence, and Mutlaq soon retracted his call for a boycott. The elections remain on track. Only about 150 candidates were ultimately crossed off the electoral lists. No red-faced Sunni politicians appeared on television ranting about a Shiite witch hunt or Kurdish conspiracy. In fact, other prominent Sunni politicians have been conspicuous for their low profile. Ali Hatem al--Suleiman, a tough, flamboyant Sunni sheik who heads the powerful Dulaim tribe in Anbar province, is running for Parliament on a list with Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He scoffs at effete urban pols like Mutlaq: "They represent nothing. Did they join us in the fight against terrorists? We are tribes and have nothing to do with them."
What outsiders tend to miss as they focus on the old rivalries among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds is that sectarianism is giving way to other priorities. "The word 'compromise' in Arabicâ€”mosawamaâ€”is a dirty word," says Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, who served for many years as Iraq's national--security adviser and is running for Parliament. "You don't compromise on your concept, your ideology, your religionâ€”or if you do," he flicked his hand dismissively, "then you're a traitor." Rubaie leans in close to make his point. "But we learned this trick of compromise. So the Kurds are with the Shia on one piece of legislation. The Shia are with the Sunnis on another piece of legislation, and the Sunnis are with the Kurds on still another."
The turnaround has been dramatic. "The political process is very combative," says a senior U.S. adviser to the Iraqi government who is not authorized to speak on the record. "They fightâ€”but they get sufficient support to pass legislation." Some very important bills have stalled, most notably the one that's meant to decide how the country's oil riches are divvied up. But as shouting replaces shooting, the Parliament managed to pass 50 bills in the last year alone, while vetoing only three. The new legislation included the 2010 budget and an amendment to the investment law, as well as a broad law, one of the most progressive in the region, defining the activities of nongovernmental organizations.
The Iraqis have surprised even themselves with their passion for democratic processes. In 2005, after decades living in Saddam Hussein's totalitarian "republic of fear," they flooded to the polls as soon as they got the chance. Today Baghdad is papered over with campaign posters and the printing shops on Saadoun Street seem to be open 24 hours a day, cranking out more. Political cliques can no longer rely on voters to rubber-stamp lists of sectarian candidates. Those that seem to think they still might, like the Iranian-influenced Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, have seen their support wane dramatically. Provincial elections a year ago were dominated by issues like the need for electricity, jobs, clean water, clinics, and especially security. Maliki has developed a reputation for delivering some of that, and his candidates won majorities in nine of 18 provinces. They lead current polls as well. CONTINUED HERE
Eagleburger on Newsweek's 'Victory' in Iraq Cover: 'They Changed Staff or Somebody's Getting Honest'
Bush Was Right