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Worth the Sacrifice
Citizen Magazine ^ | March 2006 | Karl Zinmeister

Posted on 03/16/2006 7:57:34 PM PST by Axhandle

Why fight in Iraq? The answer is in the faces of Iraq’s children.

By Karl Zinsmeister, reporting from Baghdad

America is deep into the cynical stage when it comes to the Iraq war. We hear that it has been too costly in both money and lives. That they don’t appreciate us. That they don’t really want democracy. It is said they may not even deserve it.

These reactions are not surprising—much good-intentioned effort has been thrown back in our faces in Iraq. One U.S. military commander I know paid a Baghdad contractor $6,000 a few months ago to clear and level a trash-strewn lot so it could become a soccer field for long-deprived neighborhood children. A few weeks after the field opened, an opportunistic local, probably conniving with the contractor, quickly built a large house for himself on the newly attractive site. I saw its two-thirds complete shell with my own eyes, surrounded by manicured yard, incongruously bracketed by soccer goals on each side.

Many ugly elements of human nature and the Arab world’s strong-arm tribal culture have been on display in Iraq over the last three years. As someone who has spent months embedded in the country—producing three books and a documentary film chronicling American efforts to bring a better life to the Tigris and Euphrates—I will admit that Iraqis have disappointed me (not to mention many of the soldiers who have put their lives on the line for them).

Yet I believe it would be wrong to surrender to the jaded and cynical view that Iraqis don’t really want, and don’t really deserve, the freedoms and opportunities we have offered them.

Keep in mind that Americans have always been willing to fight uphill for fundamental moral principles. That was the root of our rebellion for independence. That was the story of our Civil War—where both Northerners fighting the wickedness of slavery and defending the unity of their nation, and Southerners protecting their homes and their concept of a distinctive culture—were essentially warring for ideals. “Ours is a nation that fought the bloodiest war imaginable with itself over matters of principle,” author Frederick Turner once remarked to me. Or in the words of professor of religion and colonel Joshua Chamberlain in The Killer Angels, “the American fights for mankind, for freedom; for the people, not the land.”

Keep in mind too that most Iraqis are not part of the senseless violence that so appalls us. A cruel minority of perhaps 20,000 is terrorizing a majority population of more than 25 million. Even the everyday people who have disappointed us in their passivity are mostly not evil, but merely cowed by the violent fanatics in their midst.

And keep in mind that, whatever the sins of the fathers, there is a whole generation of Iraqis now coming of age that is entirely innocent of previous cruelties. Fully 48 percent of Iraq’s current population are children under 18. As they take up citizenship in their newly freed land, they will aspire to a better life.

These are children of a faith very different from America’s founding creed, a faith that has often done them wrong. But they are subjects of the same God worshipped by Americans. Look at the faces on these pages. They are youngsters I encountered during my visits to Iraq. Waves of such children ripple through the streets and footpaths of Iraqi cities and villages.

Many of them flock to Americans with adoring eyes. Nearly all of them live in abject poverty created by perhaps the worst government on earth over the last generation. Some of these children are hard, and a few even dangerous, but many of them are full of light, and moved by the same childish joys and hopes as American children.

Within reason and sensible human endurance, these youthful Iraqis ought to be offered whatever mercies we are in a position to render. There are of course miserable children scattered across the face of our globe, and we cannot save them all. But in Iraq, more than most other depraved locales, we are now in a position to offer many innocent youngsters some partial chance for a better life.

These young Iraqis are living arguments against cynicism, against compassion-fatigue, against a hasty and self-interested retreat from the heartbreak of the Middle East, back to the comfort and safety of our own shores. These children are reasons to be proud of our sacrifices in Iraq. They are encouragement for us to do what we can, to the extent practical, to alter the heartbreaking cruelties that have made their lives so bleak up to now.

Our resources are not limitless, and when the time comes for us to launch Iraq on its own course (relatively soon), we will know. But when we do let go it will be a satisfaction to know that our efforts in this land were not for oil, land, gold or glory, not for the things that man has mostly fought over since the days of Abraham. Instead, we have been fighting a war of principle, for self-determination, to make a grim part of the world more humane and thereby less threatening, so that our children—and Iraq’s—can grow up to enjoy God’s dignity and freedom.

Karl Zinsmeister is editor in chief of The American Enterprise (TAEmag .com), and author of Dawn Over Baghdad and other reporting on the Iraq War.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This article appeared in the March 2006 issue of Citizen magazine. Copyright © 2006 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 3rdanniversary; iraq; zinmeister
This silly reporter has confused himself by actually going to Iraq and tagging along with patrols. He would understand that we are in a quagmire if he would just sit put in his Washington office and let CNN tell him what is really happening.
1 posted on 03/16/2006 7:57:35 PM PST by Axhandle
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To: Axhandle
A cruel minority of perhaps 20,000 is terrorizing a majority population of more than 25 million. Even the everyday people who have disappointed us in their passivity are mostly not evil, but merely cowed by the violent fanatics in their midst.

This is what has puzzled me about the situation since early on. Why do they let these thugs and killers tell them what to do? They really don't have to. A "neighborhood association" with a few Kalashnikovs could get rid of the insurgent thugs PDQ. But they don't do it. The best I can figure is that they are victims of "learned helplessness." That's what makes laboratory dogs continue to cower in their cages even after the doors are open, convinced that stepping over the line will bring them another shock. But people aren't dogs .... One hopes they can learn.

2 posted on 03/16/2006 10:23:21 PM PST by Hetty_Fauxvert (Kelo must GO!! ..... http://sonoma-moderate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Hetty_Fauxvert
Why do they let these thugs and killers tell them what to do? They really don't have to.

Many of these people have never lived as a free people. The tyrant was in power for 35 years.

The best I can figure is that they are victims of "learned helplessness."

Or perhaps they are just victims. How brave would you be if you looked at some one the wrong way and your eye was poked out? Or if you didn't march to vote for the dictator and one of your immediate family members were fed feet first into a chipper? Or you committed some "alleged" crine and your child was fed to a caged lion?

That's what makes laboratory dogs continue to cower in their cages even after the doors are open...

A very appropriate analogy. Please think about it in context of what I wrote above.

But people aren't dogs .... One hopes they can learn.

Correct - they aren't dogs. However, It has only been 3 years. During which time sadDAM loyalists and later al-Queda terrorists threaten them the same way sadDAM did.
They will learn, and they want to live as a free people, but it takes time and nurturing to lose the fear.

Again, think of your dog analogy. They need a loving, caring, nurturing human to work with them. The Iraqis are certainly not dogs, but they do need TLC to overcome years of tyrannical rule.

3 posted on 03/16/2006 11:16:18 PM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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To: Justanobody
"Again, think of your dog analogy. They need a loving, caring, nurturing human to work with them. The Iraqis are certainly not dogs, but they do need TLC to overcome years of tyrannical rule."

Nope. They need to bite their masters hard

, and keep biting until that tyrannical master withdraws or lies dead from the damage. That's how this nation earned its freedom, and that's the only way they'll ever earn theirs.

4 posted on 03/17/2006 6:44:47 AM PST by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: CowboyJay
That's how this nation earned its freedom, and that's the only way they'll ever earn theirs.

I admit that history is not my strong suit, however, I do not recall reading that this nation was ruled for decades by a tyrannical dictator that filled mass graves, kept rape rooms for his diabolical sons pleasure, fed his subjects into a shredder, imprisoned young children, cut off body parts for entertainment..........

If you will excuse me now, I'm off to study our nations history. Thanks for sparking that interest.

5 posted on 03/17/2006 7:01:00 AM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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To: CowboyJay

Oh and BTW.....Welcome to FreeRepublic.


6 posted on 03/17/2006 7:02:07 AM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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To: iraqikurd

You may find this interesting.


7 posted on 03/17/2006 7:03:13 AM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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To: Justanobody
"I do not recall reading that this nation was ruled for decades by a tyrannical dictator that filled mass graves, kept rape rooms for his diabolical sons pleasure, fed his subjects into a shredder, imprisoned young children, cut off body parts for entertainment.........."

You're right in that regard. King George of England (a dictator) merely taxed the American Colonists without providing them a voice in government. We went into full-scale armed rebellion over just that. Had he been half as nasty as Saddam, he'd probably have ended up with his head on a pike, to boot.

France aided us in our rebellion, but it was the American people, led by the original Patriots and Minutemen, who started and prosecuted the war, upon threat of death, from the British Army.

8 posted on 03/17/2006 7:49:55 AM PST by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: Justanobody

"Oh and BTW.....Welcome to FreeRepublic."

Thanks.


9 posted on 03/17/2006 7:54:33 AM PST by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: CowboyJay

"France aided us in our rebellion, but it was the American people, led by the original Patriots and Minutemen, who started and prosecuted the war, upon threat of death, from the British Army."

Okay, I do remember that part. As I was searching for something else, I came across links I had saved and not looked at for some time. I would like to share them with you, if you are interested in learning exactly what the Iraqis have lived through.

This is about a teen-age girl that waved to coalition forces at the beginning of the war.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/879610/posts

This link will provide you with reading/research material for the rest of the year.

When the Dungeon Doors Swing Open
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/889383/posts


10 posted on 03/17/2006 8:06:00 AM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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To: Hetty_Fauxvert; Justanobody
“What the peasant wants to know is: does the government mean to win the war? Because if not, he will have to support the insurgent.”

— Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency: The Lessons of Malaya and Vietnam

11 posted on 03/17/2006 9:39:57 AM PST by Axhandle
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To: Axhandle

Thanks for this short, and right to the proverbial point, post. I appreciate it.


12 posted on 03/17/2006 9:46:33 AM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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To: Justanobody
I agree that we owed the Iraqis a chance for self-governance after deposing Saddam for our own reasons. That, however, has its limits. Contrary to what socialists in this country believe, we don't have bottomless pockets.

How long, how much money, and how many American lives?

That's the real question at hand. No easy answers either way.

13 posted on 03/17/2006 7:28:00 PM PST by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: CowboyJay

"How long, how much money, and how many American lives?"

Until the Iraqis can defend their own freedom. They are doing a great job, politically and militarily.

Meanwhile, please check this link for an outstanding read.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1593726/posts


14 posted on 03/18/2006 9:37:56 AM PST by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN - Support our troops. I *LOVE* my attitude problem! Beware the Enemedia.)
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