August 1, 2003, 11:10 a.m.
Itís only been four months.
By Angela J. Phelps
t's too bad that the imbedded reporters have come home. I don't know about you, but I was enjoying seeing our men in fatigues in the deserts of Iraq in action. They made me proud to be an American. More importantly, they made me proud of them.
Since we no longer have the play-by-play reports, and since some of the major media outlets have grown tired with the story, I thought I'd quickly recap the action of the last four months. Our U.S. led Coalition destroyed Iraq's corrupt regime within the first few weeks, they brought freedom to the oppressed people of Iraq, and they helped establish a promising new government. Sure, things aren't perfect ó it's only been four months. But there's hope ó and that's something that Iraqis haven't felt in nearly 40 years.
Think about it ó for the average person under age 40 living in Iraq, the concept of hope is foreign to them. Freedom and democracy aren't concepts they easily understand because they've never experienced it. They've never been asked their opinion on anything, much less matters of government and leadership. Elections were a farce, the media was controlled by the regime, and the government was insignificant.
Today, thanks to our help, the new Iraqi government is in the process of electing representative leadership, writing a constitution, and planning for elections as early as next year. In just four months, Iraqis went from being ruled by savages to ruling themselves.
I thought this was obvious to most common-sense individuals, but evidently it needs to be said: Peace and tranquility in Iraq won't happen overnight. Ask any elementary-school teacher what would happen if he were to let his entire fifth-grade class out for recess unattended. Girls will be picked on, lunch money will be stolen, and the regular hall monitor will be kicked in the shins.
So how then does a society that's been oppressed for nearly 40 years make such a drastic transition? Duh. Slowly. Call me intolerant, but it angers me beyond words to listen to the self-described experts who live in comfortable homes and sleep well at night within the safe harbors of American shores criticize the progress of the new Iraq because they don't think things are moving along as quickly as they'd like. Under the circumstances, things could be a lot worse.
In his Rose Garden speech on Wednesday, President Bush said it well: "I remind some of my friends that it took us a while to go from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution. Even our own experiment with democracy didn't happen overnight. I never have expected Thomas Jefferson to emerge in Iraq in a 90-day period."
It took many years, but look at how far we've come. Give the Iraqis a chance. In fact, give them a year and let's see where they are. When man is free, there is no limit to what he can accomplish. The Iraqis now have the freedom, the determination, the will, and most of all, a lifetime of horrific memories that will propel them in the right direction. They just need a little time.
ó Angela J. Phelps is an Assyrian American whose mother is a native of Baghdad, Iraq. Phelps is the producer of Concerned Women for America's national radio program "Concerned Women Today."