Friday, November 17, 2006

Forsaking honor

By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro
The Washington Times
November 17, 2006

This last weekend, two top Democrats in the U.S. Senate said they will introduce a resolution to start withdrawing troops from Iraq. Sens. Carl Levin and Joseph Biden both appeared on ABC's "This Week," saying the recent Democratic victory is an obvious sign the American people want to withdraw our troops from Iraq.

Their proposed resolution signifies the unbending opposition to the war many people have expressed ever since the early days of the war, the moment the insurgency began to fight back.

Democratic leaders such as John Kerry and John Edwards reversed their position on a war they voted for in 2002, blaming their congressional decisions on flawed intelligence while ignoring the fact Saddam Hussein was still in violation of the U.N. cease-fire agreement established after the invasion of Kuwait.

Last November, in a column in The Washington Post that began, "I was wrong," Mr. Edwards wrote: "We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure. What is success? I don't think it is Iraq as a Jeffersonian democracy. I think it is an Iraq that is relatively stable, largely self-sufficient, comparatively open and free, and in control of its own destiny."

Those of us who support the liberation effort do not believe it is that simple. We believe success is not abandoning Iraq to the hands of a merciless insurgency vigorously fighting to rule with the iron hand that "President" Saddam Hussein once did. We believe it would be a disastrous failure for American foreign policy to leave Iraq powerless to defend itself against a hawkish Iran that may try to invade and seize control of her oil wells. And, unlike Mr. Edwards, our definition of success is nothing short of a flourishing Iraqi democracy where all citizens can live without fear.
According to Amnesty International, more than 100,000 Kurds "disappeared" under the Saddam regime and up to 10,000 were killed in mass genocide. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of London reports that the Saddam regime regularly inflicted electric shock, piercing, whippings, acid baths, and eye gouging upon its citizens. Dissidents who openly condemned Saddam had their tongues cut out so they can never speak again. Women accused of prostitution were publicly beheaded in the presence of their own children. Men who challenged the regime were forced to watch their wives, daughters and sisters raped repeatedly by soldiers whose official job was to "violate a woman's honor."

The countless acts of mass genocide and torture committed by Saddam represent the most sadistic form of cruelty any government can inflict upon its people. Although the Iraqi people now face the difficult challenge of preserving their freedom from the insurgency, they do not have to fear their own government. At least now, evil cannot mask itself behind the opaque veil of honor in the form of military medals and soldiers' uniforms. It will now show its true face as sadistic, blood-shedding murderers who want nothing but power for their own selfish greed.

Conversely, there have been many great achievements in rebuilding Iraq. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, an organization founded by President John F. Kennedy to assist Third World countries in need of aid, America has made great progress in improving the Iraqi people's quality of life.

U.S. forces have immunized more than 8 million children and vaccinated 700,000 pregnant women since 2003. More than 600 health care facilities have been equipped with medical technology accompanied with 2,500 trained health-care workers to treat ailing Iraqi citizens. Nearly 3,000 schools have been renovated, and more than 3 million school kits have been awarded to Iraqi children.

America has donated an estimated $425 million worth of imported food to the Iraqi people, many of them denied such basic needs by Saddam's regime.

In the wake of all these wonderful achievements, the Democratic Party wants to leave Iraq. Their leadership has vastly oversimplified complex issues that could mean very serious consequences for our country. As former Secretary of State James A. Baker, now co-chairman of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recently said, "There's no magic bullet for the situation in Iraq. It's very, very difficult."

Withdrawing American forces from Iraq would not only invite further aggression from other challengers, it would leave a stain on America's credibility and military presence in the Middle East. It would immortalize a terrible moment in history in which those who look to America for hope would suddenly feel hopeless. And it would compromise U.S. status around the globe as the unchallenged leader of the Free World.

Those of us who continue to support the liberation effort in Iraq do so because we believe in loyalty. We believe it would be a cruel, unspeakable tragedy for America to abandon the Iraqi people to a merciless insurgency that wants to reinstate the totalitarian rule of the now outlawed Ba'ath Party. Under no circumstances will we vote for withdrawal or surrender. We stand for our country, we stand behind our president, and we will always stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Iraq.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a Florida lawyer who previously interned for the Democratic National Committee Legal Team during the 2004 presidential elections.