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Democracy In Iraq

“Every citizen made a choice today, either to participate in the elections or not to participate. That decision, in itself, is a demonstration of freedom and democracy.”
–First Lieutenant Nathan J. Braden with the 1st Marine Division

“…when Iraqis were asked — hours before polls opened — if they were going to vote, “they looked at you like you had three heads. ‘Of course we’re going to vote,’ they responded, ‘It’s our duty.’”
–Captain Carrie Batson, with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) near Najaf

Quotes from a National Review Online column by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

This historic event in Iraq cannot be summed up in simple words. As far back as many of us Americans can remember, the right (and some say duty– I agree), to vote and to elect our representative government has always existed. We cannot recall a time where we weren’t able to do so (our first presidential election was in 1789!). Today, if someone were to tell us that we could no longer vote for our government, and were being forced to live under a tyrant’s rulership, would we really believe them?

Of course not.

Once a democratic, representative government comes into being, and people enjoy the freedom of choosing their leadership, they will never allow that to be taken away. We would fight to the last to keep our freedoms, and it is no wonder to me that the Iraqi voter turnout was so high, even in spite of all of the threats of violence to the Iraqi people.

In his 2005 Inaugural Address, President George W. Bush showed that we Americans understand the inherent value of freedom, and what it can do for humankind:

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.

The Iraqi people have shown the world that ready or not, they are willing to risk their lives for freedom. Like the first quote of this musing says, even choosing not to vote is a democratic choice. People who live under a dictatorship are frequently told for whom to vote, and when, and if they don’t vote (even though the outcome is predetermined) grave consequences would follow their inaction. This is tantamount to a POW being forced to sign a confession of false actions of aggression against his captors, just to stay alive one more day. I’m not intending to belittle the experience that POWs have had by way of comparison, but I think you get my point.

Occupational forces were in Japan and Germany for years after WWII, and during that time often came under attack. These attacks against coalition forces in Iraq are not insurgency attacks; rather they are terrorist attacks, because their purpose is only to terrorize, deflate, discourage and undermine the population’s will to embrace freedom.

The definition of insurgent is: one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one’s own political party, and clearly, the barely organized resistance against coalition forces is not from a bunch of people who are acting contrary to policies and so on. On the other hand, terrorism is defined as: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. It should be crystal-clear what is going on in Iraq, insofar as the attacks on freedom and democracy are concerned. These are terrorist acts, not defiant acts of insurgency, and the sooner that the world realizes this (and ceases their biased animosity toward the U.S. and allies in Iraq), the healthier life will be for the Iraqi people their new nation-state.

But I digress. In this historic time, we should be celebrating the human freedom which is beginning to take root in Iraq (and by extension the Middle East). Marked in the annals of time, January 31, 2005 will figure almost (if not more) as prominently as September 11, 2001 as a world-shaking event. The people in Iraq have waited for more than a generation to even hope to be able to voice their opinion and vote for their government, without fear of reprisal.

God bless ‘em.

© 2005 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.

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Kharmin Needs Some Sleep

“Try and get some sleep.”

Boy, I can’t count the number of times I heard that statement in the last two weeks! See, on January 11, my lovely daughter was born. But, before I get into all of that, let me go back a day first.

We went into the hospital on Monday the 10th, in preparation for what was to be a forced labor and eventual c-section birth. Silly, but the doctor had to allow my wife to go through labor for a period of time before he could do the c-section; something about insurance, law suits and such. Of course, that didn’t really affect me too much, but my wife had to endure it (she’s a great sport!). So, Monday night, the nurses warned us that the next day would be a long one, and that we should, “try and get some sleep.”

Right.

As if the excitement of our daughter’s birth wasn’t enough to make us a little giddy, they hooked my wife up with an IV, and two separate baby monitors as well as a blood pressure cuff on her arm. With all of the beeping, buzzing and hourly nurse visits, we were lucky to even close our eyes long enough to think about sleeping. Each visit by the nursing staff (I should interject here and say that the staff at the hospital was terrific!) ended with, “try and get some sleep.”

Right.

Next morning, at 6:00am sharp, the doctor came in and started my wife on the drug which started her contractions. Not too painful at first, according to my wife, but with all of the monitors and nurse visits, we still didn’t get any sleep. Once the contractions got a little stronger, my wife had them inject a light narcotic into her IV, and that took some of the pain away. She denies it, but I think that she did doze for about an hour. Not long after that, she took the epidural, and that stopped all of the pain. Again, though, everyone kept telling us to, “try and get some sleep.”

Right.

Late that afternoon, the decision was made to proceed with the c-section. Despite their best efforts, my wife just didn’t dilate as far as she needed to, and it didn’t look like she would progress any farther. I was given a set of scrubs, told to grab my camera, and away we went! It was surprising how quickly and efficiently everything happened. Ten minutes after they started, our daughter was born! They scrubbed her down, and gave her the first round of shots she was supposed to get. I was told to grab my camera, and I got some really good shots of her (sorry, for privacy concerns, they won’t be posted on the ‘net). Then, they bundled and handed her to me, and I got to hold her for the first time.

Birth is an amazing thing, and holding my daughter for the first time is a feeling that cannot be expressed in mere words. After 40 weeks of waiting (and impatiently poking my wife’s belly, waiting for a response), it was just unbelievable to hold this little human that we created. So fragile and precious a thing, she dotes on our every move…she has to, as she is totally dependent upon us. Our little miracle.

Returning from surgery to our room, we enjoyed our little girl with her new grandparents. It was hard to say who was more excited: us, or the grandparents. It didn’t really matter, though, for she was (is) perfect, and there will be many, many years to share her. After visiting hours, we laid her in her bassinet, and tried as we had been implored by everyone to “get some sleep.”

Right.

Every move our daughter made, every sound, was scrutinized by us. My wife was unable to get out of bed, so the new Dad got all of the duties. Diaper changes, clothes changes, covering with blankets and cuddling her for comfort (which was by far the best part!). Unfortunately, none of this left much time for sleeping.

For the next three days, our newborn dominated our lives, and at each intermission provided by the ever-present hospital staff, we were told to rest ourselves, for the adventure was just beginning. Graciously, they allowed us to take our daughter to the nursery at night so that we could get uninterrupted sleep between midnight and 6am. After 72 hours of nominal sleep at best, that silly chair/bed convertible thing actually felt good.

So it was, that after three full days, we were able to get that much advised sleep. Friday came too soon, and we were allowed to depart from their care a whole day early, since both mom and baby were doing so well. Little did we know how things would change once we got home.

My in-laws were going to come in for the weekend to help out, but since we arrived home a day early, we were completely left on our own. Still recuperating from the c-section, my wife was pretty much confined to as little activity as I would allow, which put me in charge of the night-shift. I’ve been told that the first night is usually the worst… and it was.

Almost every hour, our baby cried. Eat, change, eat, change, eat… the cycle seemed endless! I was thankful for the Dirty Harry collection I received for Christmas, and our little one got her first taste of cinematic excellence (“Go ahead, make my day.”). Ahhh, nothing like a little reckless abandon and Harry Callahan violence to relax the mind, and ease the tension of a wailing infant. Actually, it wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed at the time, and by morning, the in-laws arrived and I was able to turn the care of our baby over to her grandmother, who was quite eager to take charge.

As I headed up the stairs, with the cacophony of noises in and around the bassinet in the living room, I heard my wife ask where I was going.

“I’m going to try and get some sleep,” I replied.

© 2005 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.

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