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Jack Kelly: What Iraq is really like

Those who know can't wait for the U.S. to attack

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Goli Afshar, a 23-year-old college student in Tehran, is worried about an American attack on Iraq. The Americans, she fears, are taking too long.

  Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio (jkelly@post-gazette.com). 

"Are they changing their mind?" Goli asked a Los Angeles Times reporter. "Can they hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?"

Goli's attitude is widely shared by young people in Iran, who have no love either for Saddam or for their own tyrants.

"The day Saddam is arrested, killed or exiled, Iranians will pass out sweets in the streets," Mehdi Ansari, a newspaper vendor, told Azadeh Moaveni, the LA Times reporter.

Iraq and Iran are historic rivals who often have been enemies. But on the question of an American attack on Saddam, there is a meeting of the minds.

On Sunday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz addressed a meeting of about 300 Iraqi emigres in Dearborn, Mich.

"Wolfowitz, one of the administration's leading hawks on Iraq, frequently found himself in the unusual position of being urged to swift action, as if he were overly dovish," reported Tom Ricks of The Washington Post.

Amir Taheri, an Iranian expatriate who lives in Paris, went to London with a few Iraqi friends to take part in the big anti-war march.

"Our aim had been to persuade the organizers to let at least one Iraqi voice be heard," Taheri wrote. "Soon . . . it became clear the organizers were as anxious to stifle the voice of the Iraqis in exile as was Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

"The Iraqis had come with placards reading 'Freedom for Iraq' and 'American rule, a hundred thousand times better than Tikriti tyranny.'

"But the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that," Taheri said. "Only official placards, manufactured in the thousands and distributed among the 'spontaneous' marchers, were allowed. . . . The thugs also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the Kurdish town where Saddam's forces gassed 5,000 people to death in 1988."

The most blatant and despicable of the lies "activists" tell is that their opposition to war with Iraq is driven by concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people. Salima Kazim, a grandmother whose three sons were murdered by Saddam Hussein, found out how phony this claim is when she approached the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the London rally and asked for permission to speak, according to Amir Taheri's account.

"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" the 78-year-old Salima asked Jackson. He refused.

"Today is not about Saddam Hussein," Jackson snapped. "Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq."

Saddam Hussein has killed about a million Iraqis in the course of his bloody reign, and he has killed most of them ugly.

"This is a regime that will gouge out the eyes of children to force confessions from their parents and grandparents," wrote Kenneth M. Pollack in his book "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq." "This is a regime that will crush all the bones in the feet of a 2-year-old girl to force her mother to divulge her husband's whereabouts. This is a regime that will hold a nursing baby at arm's length from its mother and allow the child to starve to death to force the mother to confess."

"The Iraqi nation is like a man who is kept captive and tortured by a gang of thugs," said Abdel-Majid Khoi, son of one of Iraq's foremost religious leaders. "The proper moral position is to fly to help that man liberate himself and bring the torturers to book. But what we witness in the West is the opposite: support for the torturers and total contempt for the victim."

To compare today's war protesters to Vidkun Quisling or the Vichy French would be unfair . . . to Quisling and to the French collaborators. They sucked up to Hitler, but they were bowing to a superior power which had occupied their land. The support Jackson et al. are giving the Butcher of Baghdad is entirely gratuitous.

The activists say we should be impressed with the turnout for their protests. But the Nuremberg rallies attracted bigger crowds. Neville Chamberlain was never more popular than upon his return from Munich.

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