Op-Ed

Positive signs of change in Iraq

Iraqi soldiers, trained by the U.S. military, showed ink-stained fingers after voting in Iraq's parliamentary election in March.
Iraqi soldiers, trained by the U.S. military, showed ink-stained fingers after voting in Iraq's parliamentary election in March.

At issue | Sept. 5 columns by contributing writer Larry Webster, "Reasons for Iraq war still not clear," and syndicated writer Trudy Rubin, "Turning the page, but to a new chapter"

Having just returned to Lexington after a lengthy career in the U.S. Army (including several years in the Middle East), I have become accustomed to your liberal editorial bias.

While I don't appreciate it, I respect your right to present it.

However, I do object when you provide your readers with two very inaccurate portrayals of conditions in Iraq in your Sept, 5 Opinions/Ideas section.

Contributing columnist Larry Webster may be a fine lawyer, but his alleged insights into the geopolitical situation in the Middle East are, at best, misinformed and, at worst, childish.

Rather than try to be an Appalachian Will Rogers, I suggest he stick to the practice of law.

In reaching a logical and realistic conclusion, syndicated columnist Trudy Rubin presents a much-distorted view of the facts on the ground.

While the liberation of Iraq may not yet have "ushered in a new era of democracy in the Middle East," as she said, there are some positive signs of change in the region.

There is increasing evidence that the latest United Nations sanctions and the continuing bellicose policies of the government are fostering rising discontent within the Iranian population.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are back at the negotiating table and appear to be doing more than just going through the motions.

Even Syria appears to be recognizing the potential benefits of posturing itself as a more moderate and modern Muslim state, with its recent ban on full-face veils in its educational facilities.

Rubin talks about the lack of electricity in Iraq but fails to provide the reason: Production is up over 40 percent from pre-war levels but increased ownership of air conditioners and other household appliances has driven up demand.

A problem, sure, but one caused by rising affluence and consumerism, not necessarily caused by American or Iraqi ineptitude as she suggests.

Iraqi women are constitutionally guaranteed participation in the Iraqi political process and they have filled those seats.

It is wishful thinking to believe centuries of female oppression will end in a matter of months.

We are talking about major cultural change that can indeed model progress for the entire region.

While Americans are understandably frustrated with the pace of change in this region and the costs we have borne, it might be instructive to look back at our own nation's troubled beginnings.

From the July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence, it took until June 21, 1788, before we had a ratified U.S. Constitution. And it wasn't until Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender on April 9, 1865, that we had forcibly decided the fate of our union.

These dates represent the almost 89 years of internal debate, conflict and compromise it took our people to settle their differences and accept a fairly unified direction for the future.

In Iraq, it's been seven years since liberation and eight months since its last election but its constitution has been ratified and the people of all religious, tribal or ethnic backgrounds seem to truly want their form of democracy to succeed.

As Rubin concludes: We owe it to them to stick by them and help them as they struggle to find their way.

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