Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Success in Iraq

It's surprising, but some good has come from our time in Iraq.

The Kurds of the area known as the Kurdish Regional Government want to secure a free, democratic, and thriving Kurdistan. They are on their way to pulling it off. Personal safety here (where I am a guest of the KRG) is a given, so that most of the time, you forget you’re in Iraq. Parts of Erbil resemble Miami, Florida. There are rows of manicured palm trees, bustling retail strips, car dealerships, and everywhere the organized rubble of construction.

Other parts look more like the average Westerner’s conception of a Middle Eastern country: flat, dusty, and monochrome. In any case, the accomplishments go beyond the realm of the commercial or the aesthetic. The KRG is a free land. If you are an Iraqi Kurd, you don’t have to do what your leader orders. In fact, your leader does not order you to do anything. Nor do you have to do as your cleric says. In this corner of “the Muslim world,” liquor flows freely, journalists quote Tocqueville in conversation, and praise for Israel is easy to come by.

Praise for America is ubiquitous. The Kurdish foreign minister told my group matter-of-factly, “It was your men and women, in uniform who shed blood, who overthrew Saddam.” I heard a group of smart Kurdish students cite chapter and verse on American exceptionalism.

Iraq may still be unstable, but the Kurds to the north have carved themselves out a nice little civilization, one that we should not let fall to their more violent neighbors in our rush to extricate our military from their land.

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