Sunday, January 30, 2005

Freedom Amid the Chaos

An amazing thing has happened in Iraq. Given the opportunity to grab their freedom, Iraqis have not only taken it, but they've done so amid the expolsions and homicidal efforts of a viscious terrorist insurgency. When the smoke clears we'll know the score, but there are indications that the turnout was astounding--somewhere between 57 and 72%. U.S. presidential election turnouts have exceeded 60% only twice since 1968, and no one had to dodge bullets, mortars, roadside bombs, and maniacs strapped with explosives. There are reports of thousands of people walking over 13 miles to a polling place just to cast their vote. (How many of us would walk more than two or three blocks to vote if there wasn't a good parking space?)

The whole scenario is stunning, and it answers once and for all the question: "Do they really want their freedom?" It gives enormous meaning to the lives and deaths of thousands of Iraqis and over 1400 American soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in the name of liberty. This war is a horrible mess, but there's no turning back now. We've got to finish the mission.

Planes are crashin’, lights are flashin’
People dyin’, children cryin’
Heroes charging through the smoke
God in heaven we invoke
Soldiers screamin’ ‘cross the desert
Facing dangers, freeing strangers
Do they even want the freedom?

How to keep it, how to use it
Why it matters, why you choose it
Are we even right to give it
Can they ever hope to live it
Sons and daughters packed in boxes
Save us from our paradoxes
Who will bless your sacrifice?

From You Gotta Stand for Somethin'


At 4:26 PM, Blogger The Green Man said...

The last election held in Iraq reported 100% voter turnout*. If this election gets 72% turnout, it wouldn't be hard to make a case that the Iraqis are less enthusiastic about the current government than they were about the previous one. I'm not saying that's the correct interpretation, just that voter turnout doesn't really tell the story. I mean, if Iraqi turnout in '02 is 100%, in '05 is 72%, and U.S. turnout in '04 is 59.6%**, the suggestion would have to be that the lower the turnout of voters, the more "Democratic" the election, wouldn't it? It's hard to get excited about these statistics, when it's not at all clear what they mean.

The people of Iraq still live under a military dictatorship. The dictator just happens to be a different person than the one they had two years ago. There are no candidates in that election who were not approved by the U.S. Occupation Authority. In my book, that makes this election a sham. In spite of nice speeches made last year, the government of Iraq is not able to make any decisions that would genuinely challenge policies of the Bush Administration. In what way is Iraq "sovereign", then? In what way is this process "Democratic"? How are they enjoying more "Freedom"?

I don't see how anything that happens to the surviving Iraqis can "give meaning" to the deaths of the tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who died in the invasion. Those people did not lay down their lives to bring freedom to their countrymen. They were indiscriminately bombed, regardless of their opinions about Democracy and Freedom. I am unable to see how that's good for anyone.

*Look for articles dated October 16, 2002, when this was reported by Reuters and other services. It's hard to find a link, because primary sources are now available only through pay services

**Estimate from the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, dated November 4, 2004. I couldn't find final turnout information yet, even though vote counting was formally completed in December.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger House of babble said...

Right on! And the other comment that the '02 elections got more voters is just silly. Yes, with a gun to ones head, I'd be more apt to head to the polls as well.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Patrick Anderson said...

Here is an amazing post from an Iraqi who authors a blogspot called "The Mesopotamian:"


Greetings Friends,

I bow in respect and awe to the men and women of our people who, armed only with faith and hope are going to the polls under the very real threats of being blown to pieces. These are the real braves; not the miserable creatures of hate who are attacking one of the noblest things that has ever happened to us. Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming. Behold the Iraqi people; now you know their true metal. We shall never forget the meanness of these bas…s. After this is over there will be no let up, they must be wiped out. It is our duty and the duty of every decent human to make sure this vermin is no more and that no more innocent decent people are victimized.

My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers. The blood of Iraqis and Americans is being shed on the soil of Mesopotamia; a baptism with blood. A baptism of a lasting friendship and alliance, for many years to come, through thick and thin, we shall never forget the brave soldiers fallen while defending our freedom and future.

This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance.

Salaam for now

# posted by Alaa : 3:55 AM

At 11:42 PM, Blogger The Green Man said...

Just to clarify a little for House of Babble, the comment about the 100% turnout is made only to highlight that the numbers, with no context, are not helpful. To highlight that a little further, you express no surprise that Iraqis would have 100% turnout with a gun to their heads, and you admire the very same Iraqis for turning out in large numbers in spite of the fact that they have guns pointed at their heads. Did the population of Iraq suddenly give up its sense of self-preservation? I suspect there are some other things going on here. All I'm saying is that the statistics are being tossed around as if they are significant, but we don't really know what they mean.

Also in the interest of being clear, I'd like to say, on balance, the Iraqis are electing a legislature that will be similar to the ones we convened in America while we were still colonies. You know, we could vote on local issues and make some noise until we got into something important, and then the Governor would dissolve the assembly and revoke the laws he didn't like. I imagine the U.S. Occupation Authority will exercise that kind of privilege, and the President gets to act like the old British King. I think it's hypocritical for the United States to assume the role of its former oppressor, in the guise of bringing American Ideals to the rest of the world. However, there are clearly many people who are too excited by what happened yesterday to think back over 200 years or more.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger House of babble said...

Where do I start.

Fair, statistics are being tossed around but something has to be said for the election of Sunday. It's clear to me that they mean something. No government held a gun to their head and made them vote like days gone by. Splitting the stats by region, Sunni v. Shia, it's clear that some groups supported/believed in the process while others didn't. Yes, stats can be used in an incorrect way but, on the surface, few folks, other than the Sunnis and the uber-left in the US, are calling this a sham.

You call the US government no different than King George 230 years ago. Not quite. I'm trying to run through my head to see what nations the US has beat/occupied in a war where we are still there or where we have dissolved a legislature after it was elected. Let's see.. Germany, Japan, Italy All democratic w/in 5-7 years. Haiti-in and out of that mess a few times and left the government, if you could call it that, as is. Panama same story. Etc. Maybe you could argue we played around Manila too long after the 1898 war but that's about it. We were only to glad to cut and run in 1946.

The US troops will leave in due course, like we have every other time. So far the elections have proved to be a success and some have a hard time accepting that. Here is a great link of a Bush hater who has come to that reality.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger William C. White said...

It's going to be a beautiful day when moronic people, specifically most Americans, wake up and see what a Shia(Shiite) government looks like. Remember, America was fighting the Shia in this war before we were fighting the Sunni. Remember, we were surprised that they didn't welcome us with open arms.

The "terrorist" sponsoring nation of Iran is a Shiite government, and Iran is almost entirely Shia.

But like most situations, Americans won't see the obvious until the bomb explodes. You'll see in a few years why Saddam kept a lot of Shiites locked up in prisons, and killed all Shiites who opposed him.

I just want to know, when we start killing the Shiites in large numbers like Saddam did, will our leaders be put on trial for killing the "innocent" people of Iraq?

At 2:54 PM, Blogger The Green Man said...

I'm just sayin'. If the new Shi'ite Majority government in Iraq asks the U.S. troops to leave because they would rather have security and protection provided by their brethren in Iran, I don't think that duly elected Legislature will get very far. That being the case, it's a little hard for me to understand how Iraq is a "sovereign" nation.

Don't get me wrong here, I think what we did with Germany and Japan was a big success. When people were talking about going into Iraq, I was the guy saying "are you ready to commit to a direct occupation for 5 or 10 years, with a Marshall Plan at whatever that costs to rebuild the country?" And everyone was saying "What are you talking about? We can whip their asses and be out of there in a year". So I know we are able to do that successfully, and I know what it takes. One of my big complaints about this whole operation is that the Administration keeps saying "we just need a couple more months and another 80 billion dollars", when it should be obvious to any idiot that we're booked for the long term now. How come nobody in the Administration is saying that? These elections are grossly premature. As you point out, Germany was not able to put up a temporary Constitution until 1949. So when I say "sham", what I mean is that it's a piece of window dressing to make it appear "progress" is being made, when there is no way in hell it can mean the kinds of things people want it to mean.

And, for the record, we do still have thousands of troops stationed in Germany. We still prop up the government of South Korea. We did replace the government of Panama after it was nominally independent of U.S. rule (Manuel Noriega). We did replace the government of the Phillippines that we had propped up since you claim it was freed in 1946 (Ferdinand Marcos). We still hold direct control over Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Samoa even though they are not States and their people do not have full rights of voting and representation. I think I could go on if I did my homework. Our actions do not always live up to our rhetoric.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger PuzzledPatriot said...

Quick comment to House of Babble:

For the most part, the article you linked to discusses points very similar to those being argued by Green Man. Your article points out that it is too early to tell, that the elections have done nothing to stem the tide of violence, that there is still a very good chance a freely elected Iraqi government will want to give us the finger and will then be squashed.

One difference between Mark Brown and Green Man is that Brown is now willing to entertain the notion that Bush may have been right. Otherwise, they make many of the same points. For me, the ends do not justify the means. Even if the election brings the angels of democracy down from the heavens to bestow peace and prosperity on the Fertile Crescent, and then a genius Iraqi scientist cracks the secret of cold fusion and shares it with the US a token of his appreciation for freeing him from Saddam's oppression... Even those absurdly beautiful ends would not justify the odious means employed by Mr. Bush.

Well, maybe that wasn't so quick.

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