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Democracy in Iraq Will Come From America's Young Men and Women..in the Military

September 1, 2003

We have heard much talk by the Democrats about the Iraq "quagmire". A couple of www.rightturns.com editions ago, I included in my "Headlines We Will Never See" feature the following: "Democrats Declare American Revolution a Quagmire!" Remember the Revolution lasted 8 years and 1 month longer than we have been in Iraq!

Since the original "quagmire" claim, we have had the UN building bombing. This has brought out more hand wringing by the Democrats and the liberal press because the same building headquartered many of the non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and activist groups that are in Iraq to "help" the Iraqis. These are groups the "left" sees as the solution to our international actions. One San Francisco Bay Area NGO, Occupation Watch, even says it is in Iraq to keep an eye on the U.S. military! Where they were when Saddam brutalized his people is anyone's guess.

I am sorry for the death and destruction of the hotel bombing, but I doubt the setback to the UN and NGO's will have any lasting effect on the move toward Iraqi democracy. Why? Because the real move to Iraqi democracy is coming from the actions, behavior, and good heartedness of America's best ambassadors of democracy - American soldiers and marines.

During a recent workout, I saw a Fox News cable program describing the arrival of American soldiers/marines into an Iraq town that had been brutally suppressed by Saddam. The film showed Iraqi men and women and children cheering the GI's. Many even held up their toddlers and small children as they cheered and several handed them to the GI's for a ride on the troop carriers and tanks. Our troops were grinning and waving back… and holding those kids tightly. Like the parents and their children of 1944 France, Belgium, and Holland, these parents and kids will never forget the day when American troops liberated their home.

Another story supporting my point is from the Wall Street Journal, 6/26/03: Odd Couple Rebuilds a Corner of Iraq. The story describes the actions of Army Lt. Travis Maples (23 years old, from Sacramento, California), Comanche Troop, U.S Army Second Armored Cavalry regiment in securing and bringing on line a vital cooking gas plant located in a slum, Shaoura, outside Baghdad. "By the time Lt. Maples … arrived (in May) …, the plant was ready to produce again. Its cooking gas was badly needed: explosions and lethal burns had become a daily occurrence as residents tried to cook with gasoline instead." Lt. Maples and the plant manager, Hussein Olaiwi Said, struck a deal: for two weeks of military protection from looting and rioting, production would restart to help alleviate the cooking gas shortage. Shortly after production came on line, Said was relieved because of his past low-level membership in Saddam's Baath Party. Maples soon realized after production dropped again that Said was the best manager for the plant; local towns people heartedly agreed. Maples then built the local support and fought the occupation bureaucracy to re-instate Said. Said came back to the plant and it is now online and providing the much needed cooking gas. Showing real American belief in building local support and in fighting bureaucracy, Lt. Maples said, "I am partial to this guy (Said). He is trying to make this country better…."

There are countless other stories like marine combat engineers building school desks out of scrap lumber, military lawyers making sure fairness is enforced in local courts, marine commanders showing local officials how town councils are suppose to work, etc.

We do not hear of them from Tom, Dan, or Peter or even the most story hungry bunch of all - the cables (Fox News is the exception, … usually). It really does not matter if the American media ever picks it up, because the real rebuilding continues as a generation of Iraqi people learn to know the types of good hearted men and women the American society produces.

Sam T. Harper graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University.  Following a tour in the US Navy and a stint as Operations Manager at Roadway Express, he earned his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  He was a contributor to “In Search of Excellence,” the best selling business book of all time.  Sam was also Manager, Economic Planning & Analysis at Sohio Petroleum, Partner and Chief Financial Officer at investment-banking firm Bridgemere Capital, and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Contemporary Studies, a San Francisco Bay Area-based think tank and international publishing firm that specializes in self-governing and entrepreneurial public policy.  Sam was a chairman of the San Francisco Republican party and the GOP co-host of California Political Review on KALW-FM in San Francisco.  Sam is currently the co-owner of the Tennessee based Institute for Local Effectiveness Training, LLC – a management consulting, training, and coaching firm.