Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fifteen December Two-Thousand Five

A larger percentage of Iraqis voted in the elections of December 15, 2005 than ever vote in the most contested elections in the United States. After watching them vote, I will never look at my privilege of voting quite the same again.

I don't know about you, but if I have two experiences that are equally excruciating, I will automatically think that the one I am undergoing now is much worse than the one that happened in the past. Even if the experience in the past was more excruciating, the one I'm undergoing now still seems the worst.

This is my opinion of what is happening to many Iraqis currently--the ravages of Saddam were terrible and the ravages of the current terrorists are nearly as terrible, yet because one "remembers" what is happening to himself now better than what happened in the past, many Iraqis think life today is worse than it was under the iron-fisted rule of Saddam.

I was witness, however, to a day not so long ago when virtually no one preferred to dream of the days of languishment under Saddam. In fact, it was a day that most if not all Iraqis remember most fondly as one of the best days of their lives.

God bless, by the way, the tribes in and around Ramadi, Iraq, who have finally come forward and dared to call the insurgents what they really are: terrorists. (More about this in an upcoming post.)

On election day, December 15, 2005, my job was patrolling a main supply route between military forward operating bases (FOBs) and manning a hilltop that serves as an observation post (OP) used to surveil the supply route road. Not far from our OP was a small village of maybe 300 people.

As I manned the machine gun in the turret of my humvee, I noticed several people in the school yard. Unlike most school days, the people in the school yard were mostly adults. This day being in a sense just another day of work for me, I initially wondered to myself why so many people were in the school yard. Then it occurred to me: it's voting day.

I grabbed my binoculars and began to observe more closely.

Our replacement platoon arrived shortly after noon that day, but for the 4 hours or so that I watched the school yard, there was always someone coming in the school yard gate, excited to exercise their franchise. Groups of people stopped to chat in the school yard and on the streets leading to the school. Often the ones returning from their polling place smilingly held up their purple fingers as a token of both joy at having voted and as encouragement to those who had not yet voted. Many of them shook hands and hugged each other. And everyone was happy.

Later that evening, back at the FOB, I got on the internet to see national voting results--to see if our village was an anomaly. I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that it indeed was not. I am an emotional person (my mother's genes are to blame for that) but I kind of became embarrassed as I tried to hide
from the other soldiers who were in our command post that night a few tears of excitement. I saw pictures of long lines of happy people. I saw a plethora of pictures of people with purple thumbs. The Iraqi military, supported somewhere in the background by Coalition forces (and, I like to think, angelic hosts) provided a masterful job of protection on election day, as very few incidences of death or injury occurred.

Voting that day took a great deal of courage, for their were many threats of violence. And maybe the resulting satisfaction is a great deal of why, for at least one day, there was joy all around.

I'm sure in a few years, when free elections are something to be taken for granted in Iraq, people won't be all smiles as they were that day, but it will be a day and event that for many years many Iraqis will be proud to tell their children and grandchildren that they had the privilege of participating in.

I have never gone to cast my vote wondering whether I would come back alive.
After serving in Iraq, and watching the joy on Iraqi faces at having the privilege of voting, I will never look at my voting privilege quite the same. Now that you've read this, I hope you won't ever again take voting for granted either.

Pray for Iraq. May their future be as free and as joyful as was their December 15, 2005.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Better or Worse Off with Hussein?

Democrats are at it again, making inane comments about the war in Iraq, this time about Saddam Hussein and the incidence of terrorism. They're only trying to gain votes in November, and I hope that you're not dumb enough to fall for it.

There are a lot of Americans who get their worldview from not much more than The Simpsons, Family Guy, Desperate Housewives, CSI, MTV, and Survivor. This culture problem is compounded by the subset of them whose meager political and historical diet is piqued by inane comments such as the one given by Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia. Beating the "no link between al Qaeda and Iraq" Trojan horse to death, he added the supremely looney statement that the world would have been better off if we had left Saddam Hussein in power.

Equally silly is the ill-thought opinion of a portion of Americans that there is more terrorism now than before, and that America is more likely to get attacked now than it was then.

The fact that since September 11, 2001 we have had about 10 less terrorist attacks upon American assets than during the Clinton Administration apparently doesn't seem important enough to inform The Simpson Club's thinking. Even less surprisingly though--it has never occurred to them that Saddam was a terrorist, whose intentions included assassinating former President George H. W. Bush when he visited Kuwait about 10 years ago, and whose 'successes' included presiding over the killing of tens of thousands of his own countrymen.

Terrorism is always more evident in a free society than in a closed, dictatorial one. This is for two reasons:

1. The government in a dictatorship is the 800-pound gorilla of terrorism. Whenever it feels like it is losing control, or whenever someone dares to question its authority, its exceptional terrorism machine kicks in. Just to keep the people off guard, it can raid a home or two and take away a person or two that is never seen again. The best terrorists are recruited from the dregs of a dictatorial society, because they lack the moral scruples that would prevent most people from carrying out such attacks and reprisals. And it is very difficult, if even possible, to compete with it. Dictatorial states carefully nurture, train, and enlarge terrorist groups, providing them with all manner of hate-filled propaganda to keep them from noticing the debaucheries of their own governments, but focused, rather, on the United States as 'The Great Satan'.

2. In a free society, it is much easier for miscreants to know who their enemy is, and subsequently to form an alliance against him. American servicemen and women wear uniforms everywhere they go, but in Saddam's Iraq, one never knew whether someone in the group of people he was with might be a member of the Mukhabarat (secret police) or an informant. Thus alliances for the purpose of overthrowing Saddam were nearly impossible to create.

3. Iraqi terrorists know that there are certain limits beyond which (with certain aberrant exceptions) the United States military will not go. The United States limits itself greatly with its Rules of Engagement (ROE). The ROE of Saddam's dictatorship, however, was essentially "If it feels good, do it." If the terrorists knew that the United States followed them into every nook, cranny, mosque, and cemetery, they would be much less apt to ply their vile trade. If the US Military followed terrorists into mosques, cemeteries, and civilian crowds, and across borders (like Saddam invariably did) there would be few terrorists left.

Terrorist groups invariably reveal their true colors during the beginning of transition from dictatorial government to a society of liberty.

Iraqis cheered Coalition forces as they were rescued from the clutches of Saddam's rule of despotic arbirarity. They cried tears of joy when they discovered that American troops had captured their arch-tormentor. As often as they can get to a TV screen, they watch the Saddam trial, a huge majority of them in hopes that the death penalty can be his reward.

The Iraqi people don't want Saddam back. Terrorism is not worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein. It is simply more obvious in an open society. Not only that, violent debauchery and clashes between criminal elements are a natural result of the fall of dictatorships, which invariably create terrorist thugs and victims bent on revenge.

Why, then, would Senator Rockefeller be so silly as to suggest that the world would be better off if Saddam were still in power? Maybe he thinks if he appeases the crocodile that he won't be eaten until last.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Democrats Play Excellent Idiots

With their comments about what President Bush said regarding 9/11, national Democrats look pretty stupid. But the reality is they aren't--they just think you are.

President Bush has made a lot of mistakes with regard to the war on terror, but politicizing September 11th, 2006 was not one of them. Leading Democrats in the United States Congress know this. They are not stupid (I think.) They just think that all of us are stupid enough to not notice that the only politicization of that day came from them.

Here are some snippetts from what President Bush said:
  • America and her allies have taken the offensive in a war unlike any we have fought before. Today, we are safer, but we are not yet safe.
  • On 9/11...we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion, and responding with extraordinary acts of courage.
  • Out of this suffering, we resolve to honor every man and woman lost. And we seek their lasting memorial in a safer and more hopeful world.
  • Since the horror of 9/11, we've learned a great deal about the enemy. We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy -- but not without purpose. ... The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.
  • America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over -- and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious.
  • On September the 11th, we learned that America must confront threats before they reach our shores... I'm often asked why we're in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. ...The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. And now the challenge is to help the Iraqi people build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who came out to vote in free elections last December.
  • Al Qaeda and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East.
  • We can be confident that our coalition will succeed because the Iraqi people have been steadfast in the face of unspeakable violence. And we can be confident in victory because of the skill and resolve of America's Armed Forces.
  • With our help, the people of the Middle East are now stepping forward to claim their freedom. From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut, there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy.
I'm trying to figure out how anyone could disagree with that, yet many national Democrats somehow found a way.

Here's what Harry Reid, the reincarnation of Thomas Daschle, had to say:
"I think that we had a wonderful opportunity last night to listen to the president bring the country together. He didn’t do that."

Apparently Harry Reid's vision of togetherness is when all Republicans are dead.

Nancy Pelosi piled on with these choice words:
On the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, President Bush continued to try to justify the invasion of Iraq by drawing nonexistent links to the 9/11 attacks. To try to make partisan gain out of such tragedy dishonors all those we lost on Sept. 11.

In fact, the war in Iraq has made our effort to defeat terrorism and terrorists more difficult.
Ms. Pelosi is no fool. Do not think for a moment that she doesn't know that there are indirect links between 9/11 and Iraq. Furthermore, experts don't believe that "Iraq has made our effort to defeat terrorism and terrorists more difficult," but then noone ever accused Pelosi of being an expert.

Charles Schumer pulled this out of his bag of meaningless elegance:
You do not commemorate the tragedy of 9/11 by politicizing it.

Actually, Mr. Schumer, I agree. So why did you start?

President Bush's speech was very non-political, nation-unifying speech. The only thing that politicized the entire event was a bunch of whiny statements from a bunch of whiny Democrats who can't think of a better way to try to win seats in Congress in November.

But they're not stupid. They know they were the only ones who politicized what was otherwise a reflective and unifying day. But by their comments, they're hoping you're too stupid to notice.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Why I Remember

The reason it's easy for me to remember where I was when the world stopped turning on September 11, 2001 is because the essence of 9-11 is simple. We are in a war between those who desire freedom of religion, speech, and choice and those who would compel us to do only as they say.

On this September 11th, 5 years after the greatest terrorist attack on American soil, anecdotes coming to us over the airwaves from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and I'm sure other places illustrate that Muslims of the fundamentalist mentality still don't get it. The whole point of life is to choose who and what we want to be.

For those of you who know I am a Utah soldier who recently returned from Iraq, you would be relatively safe to speculate that I am a Mormon. That is the case. And I'm sure my religion colors my thinking about the war against Muslim Fundamentalist Terrorists (MFTs). In point of fact, my religion is why September 11th, 2001 is often on my mind.

The Book of Mormon, additional scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, teaches many principles that I believe were tailored for our day and time. Interestingly enough, from time to time in Book of Mormon history, there were terrorists. It is highly instructive for us today to learn how terrorists were combatted during Book of Mormon times. Those terrorists, even more interestingly, came from the generally non-Christian group called Lamanites, but were occasionally augmented by dissenters from the generally Christian group called Nephites. The Nephite dissenters usually had a dramatically negative impact on peace in the Book of Mormon world, being much more successful in stirring up the Lamanites to become terrorists than their fellow Lamanites were--in other words to attack Nephite men, women, and children for no other reason than that they were angry and they wanted power over them.

The following passage illustrates the juxtaposition of good (God-fearing Nephites) versus evil (power-hungry Lamanites as well as Nephite dissenters):
8 For behold, [the]adesigns [of a particular Nephite dissenter] were to bstir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into cbondage.
9 And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their awives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their brights and their privileges, yea, and also their cliberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.
10 For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should aworship God in bspirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would cdestroy.

Book of Mormon, Alma Chapter 43
Ultimately the entire god-fearing portion of that civilization was wiped out by those who despised liberty. The reason? They became self-worshiping rather than God-fearing.

If, for a moment, we can put all politics aside, not taking into account who in any of the last 10 or 15 United States Presidential Administrations made which mistakes and who may have told what lies that got America where we are today, the truth of the matter is that this war we are currently fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere is simply the same war of good versus evil that the Nephites fought and eventually succumbed to.
I'm flying my flag today, in memory of our heroes, both at Ground Zero and those serving around the world in the War of Good versus Evil. I'll be flying my flag all week. I hope you will, too. I hope you will also pray not only for the safety of our troops, but that they will be guided by God to act in a dignified manner and to be successful in their mission.

We should honor not only those nearly 3,000 Americans of various ethnicities and ancestries who died 5 years ago today, but also the nearly equal number of American fighting men and women who have since given their last full measure of devotion in the attempt to insure that such vile treachery will never happen again.

For me it's easy to remember. It happened once before long ago in Ancient America. And it's trying very hard to happen again. There is a pattern for what we are seeing. That ancient civilization forgot God and is now only known in the pages of history. If we forget our Maker, we will be history, too. If we don't, we can't help but win in the battle for liberty.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Are They the Enemy or Not?

The way some Americans are treating members of the Iranian government makes one wonder whether they know that Iran is seeking our destruction.

When Nitika Kruschev of the Soviet Union visited the United States during the Eisenhower administration, Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, recognized him for what he was--the enemy. He fulfilled his assigned tasks in giving Kruschev tours of various government agriculture facilities, but he would not shake Kruschev's hand. One does not kiss the enemy's backside.

More recently, when President Bush personally signed off on former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami's visa and visit to the United States, I wondered if Bush had lost sight of his enemies. This is further proof that Bush is doing a terrible job in prosecuting the war on terrorism.

The elite in this country have often had a soft spot in their hearts for dictators. Fidel Castro has often been welcome in our country, despite his horrific persecution and torture of Christians and others in Cuba who wish they could vote him out of office. More recently, wannabe and possibly soon-to-be Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez was wined, dined, and salivated over by several elite Americans who ought to know better, including religious groups.

Many times the truth is black and white. The truth regarding Iran falls into this category. Any country that can officially claim that the Jewish Holocaust never happened and that Israel should be pushed back into the sea or otherwise destroyed must be taken seriously as an enemy of liberty, and thus an enemy of the United States.

One who can clearly see the enemy in Mohammed Khatami is Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney, who called Khatami "a wolf in sheep's clothing", and, although he can't prohibit him from coming to Harvard for a speaking engagement, he does have the authority to withhold public security for the terrorist sympathizer, which he has done. Bravo for Mitt Romney.

That Harvard would invite Khatami to speak at its campus on the eve of the 5-year anniversary of the greatest terrorist incident on American soil is beyond contemptuous. The Harvard administration should be embarrassed. But then liberals never are embarrassed about being stupid with regard to reality and history. 'All we need is dialogue,' they claim over and over again, failing to remember that all the previous attempts at 'dialogue' were fruitless.

That 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace would throw easy question after easy question at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a recent episode is silly and counterproductive as well. It's probably safe to say that liberals are gutless wimps. Whenever anyone starts to bluff and bluster at them, their first reaction is to make friends with them so they don't get beat up. It's much like the crocodile referred to by Winston Churchill when Neville Chamberlain obsequiesced to Adolf Hitler--that we treat appeasement as feeding the crocodile in the hopes that he will wait until the last to eat us.

President Bush would do well to be consistent and predictable in the war on terrorism. His quasi-befriending of Khatami is confusing, to say the least. Which makes me wonder--if a better republican candidate in the last presidential election--Alan Keyes--had been elected, how much safer would we--and the Middle East--be today? Much safer, I suspect. I suppose it's good that GW Bush cannot run again. As it stands, I like Romney's stance (and chances to become the next United States president), because he clearly knows his enemies.