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Election '08

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War and the Will of the People

When our leaders tell us that we go to war for democracy can we trust that they will actually promote democracy in the places we fight to defend? Lost in the rhetoric of the debate over the Iraq war seems to be the will of the Iraqi people.

A recent poll of thousands of Iraqis performed by three reputable news agencies from three countries (ABC News from America, The BBC from England and NHK from Japan) showed that an overwhelming number of Iraqis feel that conditions have become less safe since the “surge” began. The survey also shows that the majority of them would prefer the Americans leave sooner rather than later. When asked what were the biggest threats to security in Iraq the top two answers were al Qaeda and the American forces in Iraq.

The main argument for staying in Iraq is the instability of their government and the inability of the security forces to maintain order. What nobody ever talks about is the natural course of conflict that accompanies major social change. In the early days of America, there was not harmony and order. Those who favored states’ autonomy were at odds with federalists who felt that our nation could only function with a strong central government. There were divisions over states’ rights, slavery, taxation, money production and any number of other issues. Sometimes those issues were discussed in civil settings and sometimes they were settled less amicably. Our nation suffered through nearly a hundred years of instability and war including a civil war before we were able to have the United States we know today. We have many of the values and freedoms we have today because we worked through those problems as a society and found ways that worked for our social dynamic. We could not have the America we have today if we had not gone through those problems. They were the natural growing pains for our democracy.

Perhaps it is time to examine if Iraq needs to find ways to work through their own social discord to find a way that democracy can work for them. Can we support them? Of course we can but it is questionable at best to say that we can help them while staring down the barrel of an M-16. It may be that our social model will not work for them. We needed over a hundred years to find a social order that works for our society and even today, more than two hundred years after the formation of our government, we are still finding things in our system that don’t work for everyone in our society. We still have major disparities in equality in our nation and there are people dying on our streets every day.

In a democracy, the will of the people is supposed to be the guiding principle. In two countries the majority of the people believe that it is time for the war between those two countries to be over. If democracy is to be the goal for one nation and is truly the philosophy of the other, the people need to be heard and obeyed. Generals will never be satisfied with the outcome of a war unless the victory is decisive and complete. Politicians do not have the spirit or courage to lead the effort on the battlefield. The people are the ones who fight the wars, pay the taxes and do the work that supports the war. As the ones most directly impacted by the war it should be their voices that are the most important. We The People of America and Iraq have said we wish for no more war. It is time that the people we allow to lead us listen.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

Should Anyone Be Above the Law in Iraq?

In the combat theater of Iraq there are two different military forces representing the United States. The military force that everyone hears about is the official military forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The other military force is the private contracted military. Among the private military contractors none is more favored by our government than Blackwater. With thousands of mercenaries on their payroll Blackwater protects the upper echelon of government and corporate America when they travel within Iraq. The only problem is that while they perform the tasks of military personnel they are not subject to the same rules and oversight as the real military.

Since 2004 private security firms conducting security and military support operations in Iraq have enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Iraqi people. This last weekend, members of Blackwater protecting a convoy shot and killed eight civilians in front of hundreds of witnesses in Baghdad. While the Blackwater spokespeople claim that their staff were returning fire, witness statements at the scene have not apparently corroborated that as of yet. This is just the latest in a series of complaints against Blackwater by the people of Iraq. They have been accused of using excessive force on multiple occasions and to date have never been answerable in any way for their actions.

While there are conflicting reports of the long term status of Blackwater in Iraq between US and Iraqi officials it is clear that they are no longer wanted in Iraq by some within the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced Monday that it has taken the first step of permanently revoking Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq. Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh made it clear that the government of Iraq intends to hold them accountable for their actions and that it feels blanket immunity is unwarranted. In a statement he said, "They should not have immunity for their mistakes." He continued, "If they have made a mistake, they should be subjected to the law."

The looming question remains, why would the provisional authority that we had in place prior to elections allow contractors to operate above the law and outside of the confines of regulations that even our own armed forces must adhere to? Despite similar complaints against Blackwater by Americans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the southern U.S. there have been no efforts by our government to monitor or disclose to the public the actions of Blackwater in Iraq. How can it be in the best interests of the American people to have companies representing us abroad that act callously and with impunity damaging our nation’s reputation on a daily basis? In the battle for hearts and minds that is necessary to win the war on terror, it would seem that companies like Blackwater are doing more harm than good.

As we move forward in Iraq it seems that we need to reign in our own people before we will have any hope of turning the tide against the insurgency. As long as there are people representing America that brutalize and kill innocent Iraqis we will be fueling the fires of the insurgency. Al Qaeda thrives on the oppression and hopelessness in countries. They get their foot soldiers from the ranks of the oppressed. As long as we are the ones oppressing the people in Iraq, the terrorists will have willing recruits to come and kill Americans. We are their “Evil Empire”. Just as we rallied people around the world to overthrow the totalitarian Soviet empire, they will rally others to overthrow us. We cannot win the war on terror by becoming the monsters we fight to destroy.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

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