Jewish World Review May 18, 2004 / 27 Iyar, 5764

Robert Stewart

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Iraq's Governing Council leader's murder has only led to further recognizing of clear choice between stability and a government run by terror | Earlier this month, al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi beheaded an innocent American civilian in an attempt to weaken American resolve and quell support for coalition efforts in Iraq. On Monday, fellow terrorists claimed "credit" for murdering the leader of Iraq's Governing Council. Both acts were horrendous; both failed in their goals.

Rather than succumb to terrorists' intent, the Governing Council selected a new leader, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, within hours of Monday's attack. He will lead the council until the crucial date of June 30, when sovereignty will be transferred to Iraqi control.

The council did not collapse under the weight of the attack; rather, it sent an important signal of continuity. Its new leader did not shrink from their mandate to lead Iraq toward stability. In a statement, al Yawer pledged to continue "the march toward building a democratic, federal, plural and unified Iraq."

"The criminal forces," he continued, "will be defeated despite all the pain they are causing to our people and their heroic leaders." If his resolve is mirrored by the council, they will certainly succeed. And if his sentiment is championed by subsequent leaders, then no terrorist can stop a future of freedom and stability in Iraq.

Similarly, the goal of scaring off civilians-through the Nick Berg attack and numerous abductions and attacks on civilians in recent months-has failed. As the Washington Post reported Monday morning, a major U.S. contractor currently processes 400 to 500 workers a week for jobs in Iraq. This, coupled with continued troop strength, signals an resolve to finish the job and to provide for a stable Iraq. Neither Americans nor civilians from around the world have given up on the goal of rebuilding the once-great nation-despite the best attempts of those most threatened by coalition and Iraqi success.

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Iraqis, many of whom had been hedging their bets out of an historically justified fear of abandonment by the world community, now have a clear vision of their choices: stable representative government, or a thugocracy led by terrorists. The former is within their grasp, and contingent upon their support. The latter, as Edmund Burke so wisely pointed out, requires only "for good men to do nothing."

A dismal future for Iraq, courtesy of local terrorists, is certain for a nation abandoned by the coalition and non-governmental organizations. It is rational to fear a nation handed over to legions of al-Zarqawi's followers. Bombings, assassinations and other acts of terror leveled against civilians is certain in the vacuum of a withdrawal if coalition forces leave at the behest of al-Zarqawai. The withdrawal will seal Iraqi's fate-and America's. Allowing a victory of carnage will merely invite similar attempts around the world.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw recognized in his comments Monday that "terrorists are enemies of the Iraqi people themselves," not just of those who joined the coalition on their behalf. And Italy's communications minister, Maurizio Gasparri, said that "the answer cannot be a hasty flight by the countries engaged on Iraqi soil." Both men, and both nations, are undeterred by recent attacks. Both understand that such attacks pale in comparison to the brutality that would plague a nation led by an al Qaeda-inspired government. And it is now clear that such a government would be the only reward for abandonment.

Coalition leaders understand their penalty for early withdrawal. Leaders from Italy to the UK to the United States-all nations that contributed to, and took casualties for Iraq's future-are clear in their belief that recent attacks will not succeed. They understand the costs paid, and the costs that will be extracted by allowing bombings to kill more than civilians.

Submission and retreat do not bring protection or an end to the violence and civilian deaths. Rather, they encourage only future-and bolder-attacks, and guarantee a government raised by bombs, not ballots.

JWR contributor Robert Stewart, a former Army intelligence analyst, is now a writer based in Washington, D.C. Comment by clicking here.


05/13/04: Nick Berg video will backfire on Muslims
03/23/04: The killing of a ‘moderate’
03/18/04: They can not be sated — only stopped
03/09/04: Is Iraq a success one year later? Ask the president of the Iraqi Governing Council
02/13/04: Kerry swings at Bush, hits Clinton
02/03/04: The coming anti-lobbyist lobby?
12/30/03: Bush Doctrine, often derided, is paying dividends in peace
11/24/03: Isolationism does not breed immunity
11/10/03: President Bush, like Eisenhower before him, is signaling the beginning of a new epoch
10/21/03: Is this war being won? You bet, just don't ask the congressman with the embarrassingly bad timing

© 2004, Robert Stewart