April 17, 2007
Hypocrisy has a Human Price on the Streets of Baghdad
Author's note: Some names in this piece have been changed to protect individual identities.
I have observed first-hand the effects of the Bush Administration's new Iraq security plan since it began two months ago. Street violence in Baghdad and surrounding areas has declined. Shops and markets once boarded up are reopening. Iraqi civilians are venturing out onto the streets again and living their lives with less fear of being persecuted, tortured, maimed or killed. To be sure, there is still plenty of terror and violence in Iraq, but since the "troop surge" began, it has lessened considerably.
Before offering first hand proof of the new security plan's effectiveness, I must first tell you how some of my Iraqi friends and acquaintances were affected by the violence that ran virtually unchecked through the streets of Baghdad before the plan began taking hold. It is important to do this since the Democratic Party and most of those on the left side of the political spectrum either do not realize, or do not seem to care, that the lives of millions of Iraqis, (our fellow human beings), will be seriously jeopardized should America cut short its efforts to help stabilize their country.
What my Iraqi friends have so far experienced is a taste of what will happen to millions of Iraqis if the reckless Left forces the US from Iraq before the terrorists, including active Al Qaeda members, are driven out of the country.
Before the troop surge began, my friend Nabil's brother-in-law, a resident of Jordan, was shot in the head while he was visiting Baghdad for a week to help with Nabil's wedding plans. He was killed by a terrorist simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
A month prior to that event, Nabil and his parents fled their long-time home when they received a note, wrapped around a 9mm bullet, commanding them to leave their neighborhood in 24 hours or be killed. (Based on what had happened to some of those in Nabil's neighborhood who had ignored similar threats, he knew that he and his family had half that time to gather up a few possessions and leave, if they wanted to live.)
If the Democratic Party is successful in effecting a premature troop withdrawal from Iraq, Nabil and most of his family will likely be killed because of their religious affiliations and because Nabil has been employed by Americans. (You might want to know that Nabil is one of the most decent men I have ever known.)
Another friend, Ahmed, had a suicide bomb explode so close to him that his clothes were shredded and he lost his hearing for a time. After that had happened, his parents begged him to leave home. They told him that for his own safety, he should never return there, even for a visit. A few months later, Ahmed's girlfriend was placed on a death list for having been employed by an American company.
Ahmed is smart, funny and resourceful. He is young, and his vibrant girlfriend - soon to be his wife - will likely be killed, along with him, if the Democratic Party succeeds in affecting a premature troop withdrawal from Iraq.
My friend Sadeq, who has worked hard for years to make his home nice for his wife and children, lost all his possessions, but fortunately not his family, when a terrorist drove an explosives-laden vehicle into the garage beneath his Baghdad apartment house and detonated it while he was at work. We took up a collection to help him, but being the ever-classy guy he is, Sadeq refused to accept the money, even when I tried stuffing it into his pocket. A year before his home was destroyed, Sadeq was wounded by a sectarian killer who brutally shot him in the back. Still, Sadeq continues working tirelessly to build a future for his family. But there likely will be no future for either him or his family if the American Left and Democratic Party succeed in affecting a premature troop withdrawal from Iraq. Because of his history of working for American companies, Sadeq will likely be hunted down and murdered by terrorists if Iraq is abandoned before law and order is established.
My dearest friend, (more of a brother to me), Amin, has been very lucky. Smart, brave, loyal and cool under pressure, at the height of Iraq's violence he stared down death many times and survived. Since the Bush security plan has significantly quieted Baghdad's streets, I fear much less for his life. But if the American Left and the Democratic Party get their way and Iraq is abandoned, I am almost certain that he will be quickly hunted down and killed.
Another friend, Mohammed, got tired of living in fear of death or mutilation and so he fled his home and went north to Erbil, where it is relatively safe. There were others like him who were fortunate enough to have had a way to safety - most Iraqis do not, since most countries, including mine, the United States, have all but closed their borders to Iraqi citizens. I am ashamed of that.
Let me tell you a true story that gives a mere taste of what is to come for the women of Iraq, should the Democratic Party accomplish what it is currently trying to do: thwart the Bush Administration's so-far successful Iraq security plan, ultimately forcing America to leave Iraq at the mercy of organized terrorist groups, criminal gangs and woman haters. My story involves a girl named Jamilah.
Every morning, Jamilah, her sister and a few other Iraqi women come to work in my office. We expatriates look forward to their arrivals since they are helpful, funny and they do their jobs well. They arrive early, and their breakfast gossip and their laughter filter down the kitchen hallway and into our offices. It is a comforting sound, especially considering the madness surrounding us. I am always relieved when they arrive at my office, since when they are there they are relatively safe from car bombers, vest bombers, sectarian killers, snipers, street criminals and all those who would murder them for working with Americans.
In spite of her impoverished family situation, Jamilah is sweet, and very funny. Pretty and in her early twenties, she has classic Arabic features. Like most girls her age, she is moody, loves pop music, wears silly clothes and loves to flirt. She would not harm a fly.
One morning, about four months ago, while at my desk I heard the girls laughing, then abrupt silence followed by the sounds of women crying. I ran down the hall and into the kitchen to find Jamilah in tears. Her sister and the other women were crying, too. Jamilah's favorite uncle, whom she loved dearly, had just been shot in the head and killed while sitting in Baghdad traffic. His wife was pregnant with their second child.
Until then, I had never seen a group of women instantly plunged into such grief and anger and despair.
Three days after her uncle was murdered, Jamilah, her sister and the other women returned to work. Gone was the lighthearted kitchen banter. Absent were their smiles and friendly greetings. Their dulled, tear-filled eyes showed but grief.
I looked into those eyes and knew then that many more innocent Iraqi women would be thrown into that same emotional abyss if we Americans failed to help drag their country back towards civility.
Later that day, Jamilah collapsed at work. Consumed by grief, she had neither eaten nor drank anything since the day her uncle had been murdered. Our medic discovered that she was severely dehydrated.
Jamilah returned to work about a week later. She was visibly distraught for a long time, as were the women who work with her. She is now close to being herself. But she is not the same.
Millions of Iraqi women will experience what Jamilah has, and worse, if the American Left and the Democratic Party are successful in effecting a premature withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. What kinds of sons will those traumatized women raise? How vengeful will those sons be when they come of age?
I have been living and working in Baghdad for almost seven months. During my time here before the new security plan began, there was not a day at work that I did not hear at least one tragic tale from the Iraqis I work with, and in some cases have grown to love.
Back then, almost every day the windows in my office would rattle and the building I work in would shudder from suicide bomb blasts. It was not uncommon for that to happen three or four times per day. My stomach would knot as I climbed to the roof to watch the smoke boil up from downtown. I would think of the horror beneath those death clouds. To me they were jarring evidence that Iraq was in a battle for its life and that America was here to rightly wage war against the worst elements of humanity - elements cut from the same cloth as those who had murdered nearly 3000 of her citizens on September 11, 2001.
In early December, near the height of the sectarian killing in Baghdad, I took a long trip, accompanied by a civilian personal security detail, through that city and out into the surrounding towns and villages. I saw many improvised checkpoints which looked like they belonged in a Mad Max film. Getting past them intact was a matter of luck and cunning. At two of them, I barely avoided being dragged out of my car. There were several moments during that trip that I thought I would be taken hostage, or killed. You see, back then, near-anarchy sat in place of law and order.
I encountered almost 40 checkpoints that day. Most were illegitimate--hastily set up by tossing a few cement-weighted metal poles on each side of the road and channeling traffic through them. I didn't know who was manning the checkpoints, or what their agendas or alignments were. Uniforms of those manning the checkpoints, when even in evidence, were mismatched and sloppy.
Were those controlling the checkpoints "policemen" looking for Shiites or Sunnis to kill? (Terrorists in Iraq often pose as policemen; policemen in Iraq are often terrorists.) Were they legitimate members of the Iraqi Army or legitimate Iraqi Police looking to capture or kill terrorists and criminals? Were they tribesmen looking to capture, hold for ransom or kill members of a rival tribe, or were they common street criminals looking to rob, beat, rape or murder people. Were they anti-West Islamic fanatics or street criminals looking for Americans to ransom or kill?
Nearly every checkpoint reeked of badness.
As we rolled up to each one, tension inside the car would spike. I grasped a pistol, and prepared to use it. I did not feel afraid --in retrospect, I must have been afraid -- but the seething anger I felt watching shemagh-wrapped hunters (yes, these people were hunting humans) at some of those checkpoints masked the fear I must have been experiencing deep in my psyche.
That day, for the first time in my life, I faced the possibility of having to kill someone, or to be killed by them. And not only was I prepared to kill in order to protect my life, I felt an urge to kill the hunters of humans, and wanted to satisfy it by emptying my weapon into the head of any one of them who might threaten harm to me, the men with me or to the visibly frightened people in the cars around us.
Many times that day I looked out of the car's windows and saw fear: fear in the eyes of the people in the cars around me, fear in the eyes of people by the roadsides and on the streets. I could see fear in the way men walked, in the way women carried their children, in the way people crossed a street or nervously looked at passing cars or other people. Until that day I had never seen such pervasive fear. It is something I cannot forget.
People who have done no wrong should not have such fear of other people. Those innocents must somehow be protected from the human-hunters. It is the right thing to do, and America's soldiers are rightly trying to do that. Yet if the American Left and the American Democratic Party accomplish their goal of pulling the protectors from Iraq before law and order there is restored, shemagh-wrapped hunters will stalk their human prey with impunity. They will murder hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent men and women and children in Iraq. And some day America will pay a dear price for that folly when the hunters of humans, the Islamic religious fanatics, the bombers and the woman haters, emboldened by their victory in Iraq and possessing the resources to amplify their destructiveness and to extend its reach, again take aim at America's shores.
It has been more than three months since that tense trip. Two weeks ago, I took another trip through Baghdad. I then headed south and eventually north to a small town close to Iran's border. In all, I traveled approximately 400 miles. At no time did I feel threatened, either when approaching checkpoints, (all of which were legitimate and well-manned), or upon exiting my car to visit a few reconstruction projects, each in separate towns miles apart.
There were other stunning differences between that trip, and the one I'd taken in December.
On the December trip I had seen abandoned shops and frightened people. On the latest one I saw many shops opened and people going about their business in what appeared to be a relaxed manner. On the first trip I saw cars and trucks in gas lines that stretched for miles. On the latest trip, though gas lines existed, they were far shorter, and looked about as long as those experienced by Americans at the height of the 1970s oil crisis. On the first trip I saw nothing but ruin: houses and other buildings in derelict condition, most appearing unfit for human habitation. On the latest trip I still saw many houses in poor condition, but I also saw homes being built, and a good number of existing houses and storefronts being repaired
As the miles clicked by and I viewed the passing scenes and the people in them, I realized I was seeing widespread signs of something I hadn't seen much of four months ago: I was seeing Hope. I saw that Iraqis had not yet given up on their lives or their country. I saw widespread evidence they are rebuilding both.
A simple thing is kindling that hope, and it is a thing being affected by the new security plan: the just imposition of basic law and order.
As Iraq extricates itself from 40 years of injustice, brutality and death, the steady, just imposition of law and order is what is necessary for it to achieve a state of civility and prosperity. And law and order is being brought to Iraq not by leftwing Washington, DC, politicians who spout antiwar rhetoric for political gain, or by disingenuous antiwar icons like Cindy Sheehan, but by brave Iraqi Army and Coalition soldiers positioned along the highways and in the villages and towns orbiting Baghdad. Four months ago I had not seen a significant military presence much past Baghdad's outskirts. On my last trip, six weeks into the troop surge, I did.
That law and order presence gives Iraqis the chance to get on with life. It is making the difference between them cowering in fear of the terrorists, and them giving security forces information leading to the capture or annihilation of terrorists. That presence is emboldening good Iraqis to rise up against their tormenters, and chase them out, which is now happening with increasing frequency throughout the country.
In the end, whether Iraq thrives or descends into total chaos depends largely on whether or not American soldiers stay long enough to restore order, and to impart their skills on Iraqi security forces. If American forces leave before law and order is permanently restored, or before Iraq's security forces are capable of holding the line against the terrorists, Iraq surely will be lost.
It is obvious to most of us on the ground in Iraq that if America leaves here before the job of restoring law and order is finished, Iraq will instantly collapse and wholesale mass murder will commence. Most of those killed will be people like my friends Nabil and Amin and Ahmed and Kareem and Jamilah - good people, who are just trying to live normal lives. My friends will be among the first to be hunted down, since they worked with and for Americans. How can America not hang its head in shame if it heeds the leftwing Democratic Party's calls for withdrawal, leaving the good people of Iraq at the mercy of those who have by now amply demonstrated their intent and capability to commit humanity's foulest acts?
If the American Left and Democratic Party browbeat America into telegraphing its withdrawal from Iraq, the human hunters, Al Qaeda members included, will simply drop back until the day the last US soldiers board the last planes out. Then the wholesale butchery of the Iraqi people will commence. We here on the ground in Iraq believe that will happen. Nearly every Iraqi I've spoken to fears such a thing and believes that if the U.S. leaves their country before it is stabilized, there will be genocide.
Why are the Democratic Party, the mainstream press, the human rights groups, the UN leadership and the "social justice" crowd currently pushing policy that virtually guarantees an Iraq genocide? Are they not familiar with what transpired after the US abandoned South Vietnam to the communists? Can they not see that their cries for US withdrawal threaten to take Iraq to the same places as the killing fields of Cambodia and Bosnia and Rwanda?
It has been said by the Left that Democrats are more empathetic than Republicans. It has also been said by leftists and those sympathetic towards them that they are more compassionate than people on the Right, that the Left fights for "the oppressed," for the "little man," for "human rights" and for "civil rights." Yet the Left is willing, almost eager, to abandon the people of Iraq, a people desperately in need of all the Left says it offers. It is ready to abandon innocent Iraqis to those who will brutally oppress them, who will deny them their rights, including the most basic one of all: the right to live.
It is indeed time for the Left to prove, through action, that it is truly concerned for the welfare of the oppressed. And there is no better way for it to accomplish that than by putting aside its vile hatred of the President, and supporting the soldiers and the policy makers who are trying to bring peace and stability to the Iraqi people, a people who for forty years, have truly been oppressed. The new Iraq security plan implemented by President Bush is helping end that oppression. And since the Left long ago anointed itself the champion of the oppressed, it makes sense for it support that plan, instead of trying to subvert it.
With that in mind, I ask Congressmen Kerry, Durbin, Murtha, Reid, Conyers, Kennedy, Speaker Pelosi, the rest of the Democratic leadership, the "social justice" crowd, the human rights groups, the UN leadership, the mainstream media and anyone else trumpeting concern for oppressed peoples, to put aside their pathological hatred of President Bush and their unfair criticisms of the US Military long enough to view the Iraq situation as a simple matter of human rights - as a battle between shockingly evil oppressors and the liberators of the oppressed.
I ask Democratic Party leaders to put hatred aside long enough to pretend that it is their sons and their daughters, their wives and their children who are being harassed, tortured, maimed and killed by oppressors here in Iraq. Please realize that if you Democrats get your early withdrawal, the torturers and murderers will control Iraq. And emboldened by that victory, and in possession of Iraq's substantial resources, it will only be a matter of time before those hunters of humans -- the beheaders, the torturers of women and children, the suicide bombers and the hyper-religious fanatics - bring death to your own cities and towns and streets.
Then, you and your loved ones will have paid a dear price for your unending hatred of one man, your naked self indulgence, your utter, rank hypocrisy and your unquenchable thirst for power.
Rocco DiPippo is an American Thinker contributor and blogger at The Autonomist, who works for a civilian contractor in Baghdad.