Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Power, Strength and Beauty of Democracy

If you ever want to have a real lesson on the power and strength and beauty of democracy look no further than Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq.

This morning the leader of the democratically elected government of Iraq marched into the lion's den known as the United States Congress and faced down his critics and allies alike.

Of course his fiercest critics were too cowardly to actually attend, but, hey, they all issued press releases.

Democracy is really a wonderful thing. The citizens of a country actually get to chose their leader. And he or she will likely reflect their views, values, hopes and fears. And it sure looks to me like Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki fits the description perfectly.

While this will come as a terrible shock to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and many other Democrats, Iraqi's are mostly Arab and largely Muslim. I'm just guessing here, but I think they voted for leaders who match their opinions, values and morality.

And, in a democracy, people expect their leaders to represent them in both foreign and domestic affairs. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came to the United States and did exactly that.
There is absolutely no doubt that al-Maliki knows exactly where the United States stands on the current war between Israel and Hezbollah and Hamas. The U.S. has made their position abundantly clear. And, I am equally certain, President Bush pressured the Prime Minister heavily in their private meetings.

The free and unfettered U.S. press clearly and painfully made the position of members of Congress equally clear to both al-Maliki and the Iraqi people.

When you have 130,000 foreign troops occupying every inch of your country, you know the meaning of pressure!

Still Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stood his ground and followed the will of his people and his own values and REFUSED TO OUTRIGHT CONDEMN HEZBOLLAH.

Talk about "Speaking Truth to Power!" Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was as diplomatic as possible. In the country of his occupiers, in the halls of their government, al-Maliki stood strong.

To his credit al-Maliki did not outright confront or embarrass President Bush or Congress. He politely dodged the questions, made the speech he needed to make and paid tribute to the United States.

But al-Maliki was no puppet and he didn't let the United States pull his strings. And President Bush was enough of a statesman to understand the Prime Minister's position and allowed him the dignity and honor of having his own views. Just as Bush would any other head of state.

By his actions and honor, Bush elevated Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to the same level as United Kingdom's Tony Blair, who also recently addressed Congress.

Bush may have been privately seething, but he confined such discussions to private meetings and diplomatic channels.

However, Senator Schumer was unable to show the same diplomatic courtesy. Schumer led a boycott of the Iraqi prime minister's speech to Congress, demanding that al-Maliki outright condemn Hezbollah's actions against Israel.


    "I'd like to ask Maliki, when it comes to terrorism, which side is he on?" said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who boycotted the speech.

    "If he can't denounce Hezbollah, which is a group that even the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians don't like ... what kind of ally is this? I'm very upset about where Maliki is," Schumer said.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. is equally unenlightened.

    "It makes me question what are we fighting for over there. Is it going to be enlightened leadership of Arab moderates, or the same old nonsense, replacing Saddam Hussein with some other unhelpful government?" said Engel.
Also boycotting the Prime Minister's speech were Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-Manhattan, Anthony Weiner, D-Queens, Nita Lowey, D-Westchester, and Gary Ackerman, D-Queens.

It is sadly obvious that Schumer and company don't understand the first thing about democracy. Schumer must have thought that his meagerly and begrudging financial support of the Iraqi government and the war on terror had bought and paid for a tin leader.

Schumer learned the hard way that al-Maliki doesn't represent Chuck Schumer, he actually represents the people who risked their lives to vote for this Iraqi government.

Chuck, here's civics lesson 101. There is a gigantic difference between a democratically elected leader in Iraq and the near dictatorships in in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Those kings and potentates don't actually have to listen to their people. They'll never face an election. They don't allow free speech or a free press. And their political enemies seem to disappear.

The will of the people actually frightens these dictators. They are frightened of Hezbollah and, to tell the truth, Iraq frightens them too.

This is, of course, exactly why President Bush wanted a DEMOCRACY in the middle east. He wanted the people to have a voice. To have a real stake in their future.

I am proud of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and I'm hoping the people of both America and Iraq are too.

ADDENDUM: 9:00 pm 7/26/2006

I just read a really superb blog entry by pollster James Zogby over in the Huffington Post. It's titled Stop Playing Politics With the War on Lebanon LINK: CLICK HERE. I strongly suggest all Wizard readers pop over there and read it. I'm reprinting a couple of key points below:

    The Senate and House are playing politics with the war on Lebanon and I can't be silent.

    First came the shameful, bi-partisan, one-sided resolutions passed by both Houses of Congress, which gave total support to Israel's onslaught against Lebanon, expressing barely a concern for the hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians killed or the devastation to that country's infrastructure.

    Piling insult on this injury, Senate and House Democrats have insisted that the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki embrace Congress's pro-Israel stance. Should he fail to do so, they pressured Speaker Hastert to withdraw his invitation to have al-Maliki address Congress, or force a boycott of his speech.

    It is a bizarre fantasy, borne of their unconscionable ignorance, to expect the Iraqi Prime Minister to become on ally of Israel. And it is downright shameful for Chuck Schumer to say, "Before [al-Maliki] speaks before Congress and the American people, we ask him which side is he on in the war on terror."

Thank you Mr. Zogby.


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