Recently, at my Rotary club, I invited Ty Cobb to speak at our club (no, not that one, although THAT would have been one hell of a trick) about the subject of Iraq. Ty got back from Iraq last year where he worked to help the country develop a democratic government. His speech made me rethink what is really going on in the Arab, especially in Iraq.
One of the most important comments he made was how incredible it was to see the democratic process unfold in a country that has never had the right to vote. He described a town hall meeting where women in burqa’s and women in jeans sat next to businessmen and Imam’s, all with vastly differing ideas about how Iraq should be run. It was amazing occurrence, yet the media, right wing and left wing gave very little coverage of this historic event. I guess it wasn’t sexy enough to be covered yet in my opinion, it was a truly historic event. How sad that we don’t ever get to see the human side of what’s going on.
Mr. Cobb was asked a question from the audience about what the most important thing was in Iraq. Was it religion? Was it democracy? Was it differences between ethnic groups? Was it money? Sitting next to him at the podium, I got to see his reaction which was immediate, even before the question was fully answered. He unequivocally said “Money!” The bottom line is “How do I feed my family and when the hell is my electricity going to be turned on.”
What struck me was the thought that this is really the issue in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even here in the United States of America. “It’s the economy stupid.” You want to know the fastest way to create and train a suicide bomber? Give him no hope of making a good life for himself, make it so he feels like his life is worthless, keep him unemployed and unemployable. Then have a crazed Islamist (not Muslim, big difference) who promises a better afterlife and bingo, suicide bomber. Want to stop them? Don’t get up on the podium and tell them to relax and not take a cartoon seriously, find a way to give these people hope. If these young men and women had a hope for a good life and employment, the ranks of the suicide bombers would dry up rapidly.
Is the Bush administration doing this? Yes and no. Their rhetoric is oppositional and exactly what the extremists want to hear. Their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are exactly what needs to be done, despite what the media would have you believe. Improvements in Iraq are happening, the people are putting together militias to fight the insurgency but you wouldn’t know it if you turned on the news. Our people in Iraq are trying to do the right thing but our government, and I mean the executive branch as well as Congress isn’t doing enough.
You can’t have Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer Halliburton getting a no bid contract to rebuild Iraq, overcharge us the US taxpayers (it’s not the government their ripping off it’s you and me) and expect the people and the media to not doubt every damn thing you do. If it smells like…. I don’t have to paint that picture do I?
On the other side, you have idiots from the left telling us to just pull out and blow everything we have done already. In my opinion, there was no justification for us to go to Iraq. Having said that, the reality is that we are there and we have to make things right. While there are a lot of similarities to Vietnam, there are some major differences (for another blog) that give us a good chance to succeed.
Oh for a leader who doesn’t tell me everything is ok when it isn’t and for an opposition that has ideas and not a group of nay sayers.