WINNING PURPLE HEARTS AND MINDS
Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to untiring effort, to continual sacrifice and to the willingness, if necessary, to die in its defense.
-John F. Kennedy
The Liberation of Iraq:
From fantasy to fallacy to fait accompli in thirty months or less. (Or the next one’s free!)
On December 15, over ten million Iraqis voted for the third time in a year and forever changed the face of the Muslim world. By comparison, ten million more Muslims recently voted in Iraq than in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, the United Arab Emirites, Qatar and the Palestinian territories combined. Although to be fair, more Muslims are currently able to vote in Israel than in any of these other places. It is notable that the Jewish nation no longer stands alone as the only true democracy in the Arab world.
Its new Mesopotamian neighbor in modernity is none other than the old stomping grounds of the Sadist Formerly Known as President of Iraq. Saddam’s personal playground used to invade its neighbors. Now it sends them ambassadors, lending more credence to the case that democracies don‘t attack each other. Or do they?
Undaunted by bullets, undeterred by bombs, jubilant Iraqis walked for miles in "no-roll" conditions as children staged impromptu soccer matches across the empty highways. Their parents did them one better: they lined up in droves, sealing the fate of the Baathist "Party of the Return" and applying their best Mortal Kombat finishing move to Islamofascists the world over. FATALITY
Yet, in what is quickly becoming par for the course, the usual suspects would have us believe otherwise. It would appear that fertile crescent fatalism runs deep in the cradle of civilization, so much in fact that Muslims living in Baghdad now have a more positive outlook for their own future than do those living in Paris.
If a groundbreaking election is held in the Middle East, and no one is around to cover it, did it really happen? Not according to C-BS News, MSNBCNN, or the ABC-I-TOLD-YOU-SO Network. Not when there are still racist hurricanes to investigate, or new torture allegations from the Pentagon food court to pursue, or national security secrets to unveil (like the CIA running around acting like some kind of "international spy agency"). And not when producers can continue to air last season’s stock footage reruns of Iraq‘s Worst Car Bombs until public support for the war is exploding faster than the "myth" of media bias. It’s hard to blame the average viewer; if I got all my news from Tragedy TV I’d likely believe Iraq was one giant fireball too. But still a fireball that has nothing to do with global terrorism!
Abraham Lincoln wrote in the darkest hours of his hugely unpopular, yet just as vital war, "they have a right to criticize who have a heart to help." Many of us soldiers would be satisfied if the defeatist crowd among the mass media could simply restrain themselves from propagating mass hysteria. Whether they believe it or not, they are indeed inflicting collateral damage to our cause with their morale-sapping "morality tales." None of us are asking them to don a kevlar vest or lock & load a rifle, things we do every day just to go to work. Though if they truly did want to help, they’d be over here with us, locking & loading a camera, routinely riding out on patrol, and reporting the whole truth about what goes on here -- not just the truth as they see it from Baghdad hotel balconies.
The "legitimate" press panderers passively watch from the relative safety of the Green Zone as explosions rock the city and assume that is all the news that’s fit to print. The independent writers and freelancers are the ones getting their boots dirty, earning our utmost respect and gratitude for sharing the risk and shouldering the burden. Yet they garner little attention in the national limelight. It’s tough to compete with bad news, especially with a concerted media blackout of all things not damaging to the war, the economy, or especially the President. If it bleeds, it leads. And that holds true for any hemorrhaging of the out-of-action, the out-of-work, or the "out-of-touch."
Me, I'm still waiting for the breathless headlines:
FREE AT LAST; GODDESS OF DEMOCRACY GRACES IRAQI PEOPLE
HURRICANE 'LIBERTY' SWEEPS IRAQ; WOMEN, MINORITIES HARDEST HIT
HOLY SHI'ITE, BAGHDAD! COULD BUSH HAVE BEEN "RIGHT?"
But don't worry, I won't be holding my breath.
Instead we get this from the Paper of Record the morning after millions of ordinary Iraqis dusted off their last will and testaments and headed to the polls:
Don't sound so enthused, fellas.
They must have been saving up their excitement for this -- appearing the very same day, above the fold:
BUSH LETS U.S. SPY ON CALLERS WITHOUT COURTS
Would the vaunted New York Times -- that gallant global guardian of all that is righteous and good -- deliberately attempt to overshadow the Iraqi election miracle, and simultaneously sabotage the debate over the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, by unleashing a story on NSA wiretapping that they admittedly sat on for the past year? (Of course, all in the interests of honoring national security concerns, they so earnestly claim). Of course.
But that's not all.
--The Times-driven Torture Litany continues unabated, as nary a news day passes without yet another revelation of some form of hitherto undiscovered “abuse” at the hands of the military or its civilian leadership.
--The Defense Department is publicly assailed for planting “overly positive” (though factually undisputed) news articles in the burgeoning Iraqi press, demonstrating that propaganda is also in the eye of the beholder. The new national sport of Bush hatred has gotten so out of control, so acrimonious, that the military now finds itself caught in the middle like an only child dragged through the mud in a messy divorce.
Despite the predictions of the talking heads in the sand, the boots on the ground are not about to lose this war in the military sense any time soon. But that is not to say that the trash talking pundits of jellyfish journalism, the syndicated fifth columnists, the flatulent filmmakers and university fear faculties are not out there every day, all but waving the white flag of surrender behind our backs.
But they support the troops! (just not the war!) -- the agnostic antiwarrior equivalent of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Yet they continue to obsess over the three-year-old casus belli to the point of neglect of the consequences of retreat: Thousands of innocents would be slaughtered, the Middle East would descend further into chaos and instability -- perhaps irrevocably, and international terrorism would be handed a permanent foothold from which to reconstitute its ranks.
But Fourth Estate fearmongers cannot be bothered with such trivialities.
Get a grip.
President Bush recently commented above the din that "there are only two options before our country -- victory or defeat." The Iraqi people have taken these words to heart.
They have been threatened with untold murder and mayhem if they dared offer their consent to be governed, a privilege less than half of the most privileged society on earth cannot even be bothered to exercise. Yet over three-fourths of Iraqis faced down the barrel of a gun to flip the purple finger to a certain Jordanian-born jihadist. (Admittedly, the result fell far short of Saddam’s routine 99.9% of the vote, but it’s a good first start).
Thousands of selfless American soldiers have paid for this ubiquitous purple passion with their own Purple Hearts; and tens of thousands more brave Iraqis have paid with their lives.
Winston Churchill -- who nearly 75 years ago helped cobble together this sectarian jambalaya that is finally taking its first baby steps into self-government -- directed us to “Never, never, never quit.” And this from a man only half-American by birth.
The United States should never again abandon our friends and allies. We should never again retreat in the face of the enemy; nor shrink from evil, nor adversity, nor fear. And as Americans we should never again allow the sacrifice of our nation’s best and brightest to be in vain. Never, never, never again.
That is the America we know and love. That is the America we are showing our Iraqi brethren. That is the America we are fighting to preserve.
COPYRIGHT 2006 BUCK SARGENT