I for one am sick and tired of
the near constant naysaying about the situation in Iraq.
In spite of all the rhetoric and in the face of all odds
Iraq is doing quite well, thank you!
stores are full! The exchange rate has more than doubled
in the past months! Traffic is like New York! We just
got cellphone service! It feels like Hong Kong or London
or New York - the buzz is back!
I was there a year ago,
very much against the war until my uncle looked me in
the eyes and with a look that I can still remember -
terror stricken lest he be overheard - said `We live in
hell! Look at my grandson - he studies about Sadaam
every day! What is that? My Son - he goes to work every
day in a prison with no inmates, with nothing to do.
Look at my two other grandchildren? Look at them!! Look
what he has done to them` he said as he gestured across
the room to my two cousins who were for all appearances
insane - one constantly crying out the other staring
blankly into the ceiling.
It was not until after
the war that I learned that my other cousin, living in
the same home didnít have a regular job for a reason -
she had been in prison under Sadaam for 15 years - for
refusing the advances of one of his men.
He continued `Nobody
wants war, but what have all the people who talk about
peace done for us? Eh? We have waited for 12 years.
Sadaam is still here! Look at us! We live like animals!
We have food, a place to live, the basics of living but
we do not have the most important thing a human being
needs - freedom and hope!`
`Let the war come! We
welcome the Americans! Let them bomb him! Sure, there
will casualties. Don`t Don't Donít Donít tell us about
casualties - nearly one million of our young men have
died! Donít tall us about war! Donít tell us about
bombing! We know! We have lived under it for 35 years!
Let the Americans bomb
us! We know them - they will not purposely and
unnecessarily bomb us - but it is war! I am happy to be
one of the causalities if we can finally be rid of this
nightmare and my grandson can have hope!. Bring it on!
We are waiting - hurry!`
It was these words and
nearly identical ones from Iraqis from all walks of
life, Shia, Sunni, Christian, Kurd - when they could
speak without an Iraqi official nearby that convinced me
I had made a mistake.
I am sick and tired of
those who seem to speak for the Iraqi people - first
before the war and now a year later! How dare they speak
for those who do not have a voice - those they have
The situation became so
bad just before the war - literally one year ago that
when I left Baghdad the talk on the street was of those
who were going to commit suicide en masse if this time
help to rid them of Sadaam did not come.
`Of course we want it to
be done peacefully - but those who talk about Peace
refuse to do anything! We cannot live like this any
longer` was the simple view of literally every Iraqi
that was not in some way connected to Sadaam you talked
Finally, the Iraqi
people have been given a voice and they have expressed
themselves exactly as I have for a year said they felt -
according to the newly released ABC/BBC poll I have just
been sent a copy of and in spite of a situation on the
ground where it is not politically correct to say
anything positive about the Americans and the British,
sick and tired or the constant attempts to characterize
them and angry at the terror that threatens their long
awaited return to a normal life the Iraqis have spoken
Quoting from the poll
`Overwhelmingly, Iraqis are optimistic about the future
and believe their lives are better now that Saddam
Hussein has been removed from power. In large numbers,
they are also eager to see the establishment of a
I hate to say `I told
you so` but I have for a year done my best to express
this feeling, the feeling from the average Iraqi.
For the first time in
their lives they can talk freely, talk on the telephone
without being listened to, surf the internet, watch
normal TV - most of all live without fear!
* Iraqis Believe Life
is Better Now and Optimism is "Extraordinary".
"Fifty-six percent say their lives are better now than
before the war,
compared with 19 percent who say things are worse (23
percent, the same).
And the level of personal optimism is extraordinary:
expect their lives to improve over the next year."
* Satisfaction is High in All Regions of the Country.
By a 70 to 29
percent margin, Iraqis are upbeat about day-to-day
conditions in their
country. This is sentiment broadly shared in all regions
of the country.
* Plurality Say Military Action was Justified. By 48
to 39 percent, Iraqis
say that the coalition was right to enter their country.
* Democracy the Clear Choice of Iraqis. When asked
what type of political
system they would prefer, democracy emerged as the clear
frontrunner over "a
strong leader for life" and an "Islamic state."
How more bluntly can you
put it! Iraq is not a `quagmire`! Iraq is not a
`disaster`! The liberation of Iraq was not a `failed
policy`!! The liberation of Iraq has succeeded
The nerve of people to
speak for others without any understanding of what they
are saying! I saw it firsthand when I was in Iraq before
the war! When I told the various peace activists that in
fact the Iraqi people when spoken to away from the
government minders wanted the war they refused to
It is those same people
that continue to put forward the lie that the Iraqi
people were against the war and are against
the Coalition on the ground now.
As I have said all along
their greatest fear? That the Americans will leave! Get
it? Their greatest fear now is that the Americans will
Nobody is saying things
are perfect! I was three doors down from the Bombing of
the Coalition headquarters! I took off from Baghdad
airport to an explosion under our left wing! I missed
the bombing of the UN headquarters trough a fluke and on
Iraq has moved from a
terror state to an average developing country. You have
to be careful - there are good areas and not so good
areas, we have our problems - but so is it in any
regular country! The point is that Iraq has now joined
the rest of the world!
Welcome to crime,
traffic, lawsuits, raunchy television, and all the other
`baggage` of freedom, democracy and the rule of law!
On behalf of the Iraqi
people who have finally expressed themselves in poll
after poll their message is very simple. `Thank
you America for liberating us! Everybody else talked
about it - but only you had the guts to do it with us!
We will forever be grateful! Please stay with us until
we can get back on our feet again and join the rest of
the world! Please donít leave too soon before we are
ready or things could become worse than they were`.
At the same time, we
must not betray the trust, love and hope that we have!
The desire for a
democratic country must not betrayed!
Nothing could be worse
that to come this close to victory and then abandon it
just before it truly comes to fruit! The view of the
regular Iraqi people is as I have said all along and
clearly reflected in this and other polls quite simple -
they are desperately against a July 1 handover and
against any such handover until the basics have been
They are also
desperately against the language of the recently
completed temporary Constitution which states `Islam is
the Official Religion of the State.`
A secular constitution
wit no mention of religion or ideology with local
autonomy, free and fair elections, a stable and
Then and only them will
they be for a limited stand down of the Coalition
Am I a peace activist
turned conservative? Nope - simply a man of God that
tries to follow the truth wherever it leads and isn't
that what we are all supposed to do?
I was wrong once and do
not intend to be so again!
The word from the Iraqi
people on the ground one year after the beginning of the
war? `Stay the course! Do not handover the Government on
July 1! Donít impose on us a constitution that says
`Islam is the official religion of the state`
We ignore the will of
the people at our great peril!
At the end of a
conversation they will look both ways and say it quietly
because these days it isn't optically correct to say so
but they do. `God Bless America` they say `Thank you for
Take that all you
naysayers! Stop speaking for the Iraqi people! I live
with them! They are my family! How dare you!
As Hekmat Hakem one of
the members of the Iraqi Constitutional Committee puts
it `We suffered for 35 under the terror of Sadaam. We
are not going to lose this chance for freedom and a
Let the Americans be by
their side! Let the dominoes of freedom roll across the
region and the world! The Americans did the right thing
in Iraq according to those who count the most - the