Testing Congress: Faith and Face
By Michael J. O’Shea
Bored by playing God, Congress now plays admiral and general.
Despite endless complaints about HMOs — not doctors — deciding patients’ fate, Congress repeats the arrogance, rejecting those
- putting their lives on the line,
- working daily with Iraqi troops and political leaders,
- seeing the patient fight back and start to stand on its own.
But Congress knows better. And toys with pulling the plug.
It’s a pathetic cycle. Congress’s DNA is documented in Iraq, yet it denies paternity. It then claims the pregnancy’s too tough and wants to abort. It next protests that lifting a people to life is too hard and opts to abandon them to play law of the jungle to see who will survive and not caring which one does.
Which Iraqi politician has not had a family member murdered? How many governors, mayors, and other officials themselves have been slaughtered? How many days has the Council of Representatives met without mortars shrieking towards their chambers? How many can relax with their families, dine with friends, confer with rivals without fearing this moment may be their last?
Yet Congress, pampered by the Capitol police and fighter pilots overhead if need be, preaches, comforted by press, protesters, “opinion makers” – anyone except those volunteering to fight back.
Congress has introduced resolution after resolution on Iraq – and not one has dealt with helping Iraq’s parliament peer to peer, legislator to legislator. Justice, Agriculture, Defense, Treasury, Commerce, the Fed — even the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce & Industry – have teamed with Iraqi counterparts to help them meet problems head-on.
But not Congress. It sermonizes and doesn’t hear its own hypocrisy: politicians in America pontificating to politicians in Iraq that only a “political” solution will end Iraq’s woes - and taking not a single political step to help, offering not a scrap of practical political advice.
US troops under fire, Iraqi troops under fire, President Bush under fire, Prime Minister Maliki under fire, Iraqi governors, mayors, representatives under fire — and Congress alone wilts, spooked by blogosphere barbs.
The irony: Congress abhors supposed cover-ups, as for Pat Tillman’s death, yet blasts friendly fire of its own against its only Arab ally fighting side-by-side, collateral damage to that ally and to US recruiting, retention, and morale be damned. Arguing for diplomacy and dialogue, Congress does neither. Yet claims the moral high ground.
In the entire Islamic world, which leaders are struggling more for peace than Iraqis? Want Muslims the opposite of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah? Look to Iraq: there are millions — thousands of them dying.
Troops never abandon their own; Senate leaders do, dumping Joe Lieberman – sterling enough just seven years back to be their Vice President – for a trendier chap. “Semper Fi”? Not Congress. Misfiring on Lieberman, they took out Marine General Pete Pace instead.
If politicians can’t see what’s at stake in Iraq, what can they see?
What heart, what mind would be changed by ditching Iraq? Nothing would change those who’ll march against Afghanistan once they dangle Iraq’s scalp. Al Qaeda would gloat: “We told you about pampered, effeminate Americans,” then sift through thousands eager to hitch to the horse proven strong while America limps home.
Mahmoud Abbas was elected in 2004, Nouri al-Maliki in 2006: who’s done more, been bolder, been ostracized by fellow Arabs, still sought out rival Sunni leaders, fired commanders and chiefs of police, told Coalition soldiers to confront all militias no matter the political or personal price to himself?
Who’s lived under a death sentence from his former leader, personally has grounds for vengeance but will have none of it?
“I will not deal on the basis of tribal revenge with those who killed my family and people. I will go to courts and respect the state and law. That is exactly what we did with Saddam. We gave him every chance to defend himself after he did not give us a chance to say a word when we used to go to execution chambers. I am the person who most believes in national reconciliation.”
Yet Congress demands the US deal patiently with Abbas but not Maliki? Abbas: saddled with Arafat’s aftermath. Maliki: with Saddam’s. Which legacy is more leprous?
General David Petraeus said in April that Maliki is
“someone who wants to lead and serve all Iraqis, but it’s not enough to go to him.”
“He’s not the Prime Minister Tony Blair of Iraq. He does not have a parliamentary majority.”
More than its prime minister, Iraq’s Council of Representatives is key to political progress in Iraq. But Congress, its American counterpart, sneers, too superior to stoop to its peer still traumatized by Saddam’s horrors.
Saddam was terror incarnate, scarring Shias and Kurds for life, while Sunnis dread they’ll face Shias’ former fate. Both see Iran sending arms and cash, Syria permitting terrorists to seep across borders, Al Qaeda recruiting bombers to blast children, women, elders, recruits. Yet Chairman Carl Levin proclaims:
“We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.”
Eighty percent of suicide bombers foreigners, not Iraqis; 60% of US troop deaths from IEDs, many from Iran: and Iraqis must save themselves from themselves. When the doctor can’t even see the disease, how can he write the prescription?
Congress cites Sadr and his supposed dominion over Maliki, never asking: If Sadr’s so powerful and Maliki’s under his thumb, why isn’t Maliki more effective if he’s doing as Sadr demands?
Some say partition Iraq: as if it were Siamese triplets with vital organs in each part and when the patient doesn’t concur. Saw away anyway when the body’s not your own?
Senators cry “civil war,” yet dismiss Al Qaeda’s bombing the Golden Mosque — more sacred to Shias than Senate chambers are to Senate leaders — that unleashed sectarian savagery and cost American lives.
Yet many senators hope to command those troops. Command troops, much less respect, when they can’t command facts?
- Fact: American troops are better now than before Iraq, over 98% of them alive and well.
- Fact: Iraqi troops improve by the day.
- Fact: Iraqi courts are stronger.
- Fact: local, provincial, and federal Iraqi governments are wrestling with problems Congressmen dodge.
- Fact: more progress has been made in Iraq in four years than at New York’s Ground Zero in six.
Yet, like children on a trip, politicians keep asking “Are we there yet?”, “When are we going home?” — deaf to what Operation Iraqi Freedom has been about from the beginning:
“a united Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror.”
It’s never been a war against Iraq: it’s always been a war with Iraq to destroy Islamic terrorists. If conquest had been the goal, Iraq could have been crushed in weeks if not days. Statesmen know the difference: hustlers don’t.
George Bush said from the start: We’ll leave. Al Qaeda said: We won’t. Maliki said since taking over: Let us take charge. American commanders say: They’ve got fight and fight better, but need time to win on their own.
Commander after commander says Al Qaeda is like no other enemy they’re ever known: ruthless, cunning, relentless, resourceful, determined, and with tools no other enemy has ever had – satellite TV, Internet, cell phones. We have precision-guided weapons: they have precision-targeted media And use them devastatingly, especially in the US.
If Al Qaeda is a match for the US, what chance would Iraqis have alone?
Al Qaeda has another advantage: influence in Congress more than any commander. It attacks, Congress cries, it explodes, Congress cowers, it dictates, Congress bows.
It is men of faith – Lieberman the Jew, Bush the Christian – who offer hope to Islam. It is warriors of the West who offer peace to the Middle East.
Faith will win in Iraq. Saving face will not.