Cal  Thomas

Another encouraging sign cited by Taheri is the increased flow of religious pilgrims to Shiite shrines. When Saddam began massacring Shiites after a 1991 revolt against him, religious pilgrimages all but ceased. In 2005, the holy sites received an estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited places in the entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina.

Other positive trends seen by Taheri include the increase in value of the Iraqi dinar, especially compared to the region's other currencies; a revival in Iraqi agricultural activity, which had experienced unprecedented decline under Saddam; and the return of "freedom of expression" to Iraq, especially in the media.

Taheri also has a strong rebuttal to those who claim the United States is trying to "impose democracy" on Iraq. He writes of Iraq's history with democracy prior to the 1958 pro-Soviet military coup d'etat that established a leftist dictatorship. Iraq came into being through a popular referendum in 1921. It established a constitutional monarchy modeled on Great Britain, with a bicameral parliament, several political parties and periodic elections.

Taheri says, ".contrary to received opinion, Operation Iraqi Freedom was not an attempt to impose democracy by force. Rather, it was an effort to use force to remove  impediments to democratization, primarily by deposing a tyrant who had utterly suppressed a well-established aspect of the country's identity."

The key to victory for Iraq and the United States is staying the course until the elected Iraqi leadership can defend itself and the country. The insurgents and terrorists are betting we won't. Much of the media and some politicians have already conceded defeat; giving sustenance to killers who believe that if they stay the course they will win. They will win if we don't. They won't win if we do.

The Taheri essay is a must-read for anyone not fixated on giving President Bush "his comeuppance."

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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