Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The real deal on Iraq...

Ralph Peters/New York Post October 18, 2005 -- RISKING death, Iraqis of every background came out to vote on Saturday. Terrorists proved powerless to halt the country's progress. The final count isn't in, but the people appear to have approved a new constitution. Never before in the Arab world have a country's citizens been permitted to vote on the laws that would govern them. Even had the draft constitution been rejected, this would have been a historic moment in the Middle East and beyond. Our media's response? The vote doesn't matter. The constitution's flawed. Iraq's Sunni Arabs will resort to civil war. Enormous problems remain. Well, big problems do remain in Iraq. There's certainly a potential for more internal strife. The constitution isn't perfect. But to suggest that at least 9 million Iraqis casting peaceful ballots don't matter is just sour grapes on the part of those journalists and editors who've have been relentless in predicting failure in Iraq — and who've been wrong every single time. If the day comes when the last U.S. troops leave a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Iraq, the headlines will read: "FAILURE IN IRAQ: THREE SUNNIS STILL UNHAPPY. " Iraq may yet fail as a unified state. Violence will continue. But what's frustrating is the determination of so many in our media to convince the American people that Iraq's a hopeless mess. It's an example of vanity, selfishness and spite virtually without precedent in the history of journalism.The greatest tragedy imaginable for our "mainstream media" would be to have to admit that President Bush was right about Iraq. A startling number of editors and opinion columnists have been wrong about every development in Iraq (and Afghanistan). First, they predicted a bloody, protracted war against Saddam's military. Then they predicted civil war. They insisted that Iraq's first elections would fail amid a bloodbath. Then they declared that Iraq's elected delegates would not be able to agree on a draft constitution. Next, they thundered that Iraq's Sunni Arabs wouldn't vote. Most recently, the sages of the opinion pages declared that the proposed constitution would be defeated at the polls by the Sunni Arabs. All along they've displayed a breathtaking empathy with the Islamist terrorists who slaughter the innocent, giving Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a pass while attacking our president and mocking the achievements of our troops. A herd mentality has taken over the editorial boards. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, columnists write about our inevitable "retreat" from Iraq, declaring that "everyone knows" our policies have no chance of success. That isn't journalism. It's wishful thinking on the part of those who need Iraq to fail to preserve their credibility. We are dealing with parasitical creatures who, never having done anything practical themselves, insist that the bravery and sacrifice of others has no meaning. Their egos have grown so enormous that they would sacrifice the future of Iraq's 26 million human beings just so they could write "I told you so." And, of course, the greatest military experts are those who never served a day in uniform. The mission we've set for ourselves in Iraq is a tough one. Mistakes made it even harder. But any man or woman of integrity would have to admit that our troops have performed with remarkable skill and tenacity — and that the Iraqi people have displayed confounding courage in their efforts to build a just government for themselves. There are two things the "mainstream media" are simply unwilling to face regarding Iraq. First, the stakes are immensely high and the premature withdrawal demanded by the pundits would fatally increase the power and allure of Islamist terrorists. Second, we're not only asking a major state to change its form of government — we're asking people to fundamentally alter a failed civilization. Such a goal cannot be accomplished overnight. Or even in the course of a single administration. Iraq is about the greater fate of the realm of lethal failure stretching from Gibraltar to the Indus. But we won't see a rational discussion of the roots of the Middle East's cultural collapse — such honesty is taboo. Instead, we'll just hear more about our own "failure" in Iraq, no matter how many successes there are on the ground. Our columnists and editors resemble those diehard communists who kept on praising Stalin right through the purges, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the revelations about the Gulag. We'll hear that Iraq's new constitution is flawed (so is ours — that's why we have amendments). We'll be told that the Sunni Arabs are dissatisfied (so are many American Democrats). Allegations of electoral fraud will never go away (sound familiar?). And political partisans will continue to claim that our military efforts are useless (as demagogues have claimed since the Civil War). Despite the attacks by international terrorists and the media, Iraq continues to move forward. The process is imperfect, as are all things on this earth. But the bravery and determination that Iraqis displayed at the polls again last weekend deserve better analysis than smug pundits' party-line declarations of failure.

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