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Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist,
author and a popular speaker. Born into a military
family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East
Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces
service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation
from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both
the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive
for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work,
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is
based in large part on his extensive experience in
Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman.
[go to Cucullu index]
Know It’s War
The Iraqi elections…
[Gordon Cucullu] 1/25/05
Keen observers of reports emerging from Iraq will have seen
a change of terrorist tactics over the past few months. The point
of attack has shifted from US and Coalition forces to Iraqi citizens.
Particular targets have been policemen, security forces, and
soldiers in the rebuilt Iraqi army. But they are not the only
victims. Innocent Iraqi civilians have also been targeted, many
in the impersonal, cruel manner that typifies Islamic fascists.
Hospitals, wedding parties, school children, and religious facilities
like mosques and Christian churches have been deliberately attacked.
These attacks on civilians have not been randomly
selected as some might think. Victims are picked precisely
because of the
amount of terror and fear their death can generate among the
populace. Targets are also chosen with an eye to exacerbate ethnic
and religious divisions among the populace. The terrorists’ nightmare
is a united, democratic Iraqi state. Therefore they try to kill,
maim, and intimidate with the goal of creating civil unrest,
even civil war. The terrorists recognize that the Sunni population
is the smallest but contains the largest percentage of unrepentant
Baathists. Sunnis have become fertile recruiting ground for al
Qaeda affiliated terrorists like Abu al Zarqawi.
The terrorist promise is that Sunni predominance – a benefit
of supporting Saddam Hussein in the old days – would be
restored under a fundamentalist Islamic state. Even in the short
time that Zarqawi occupied Fallujah he managed to impose Taliban-like
rules upon the populace and force them to adopt Sharia law practices
and behavior that most relatively secular Iraqis consider extreme.
Fallujah was a preview, if one was necessary, of the terror state
these thugs intend to spread throughout Iraq. That example repelled
the majority Iraqi population. By splitting the Sunnis from the
rest of the population, predominately Shia and Kurds, the terrorists
hope to replace an Iraqi national identification with a religious/ethnic
one. By intentionally selecting soft Shia targets – weddings,
religious ceremonies, hospitals, and markets, for example – the
terrorists hope to provoke an extreme reaction that will spiral
violence into an out-of-control cycle.
So far major
ethnic groups such as Shia and Kurds have demonstrated remarkable
patience in the face of unrelenting,
attacks. In fact these targeted populations have shown considerably
greater understanding of the strategy of the terrorists than
have most outside observers, particularly those in the American
and European media. Many media analysts and pundits, some simply
muddle-headed, others consumed with an anti-Bush or anti-American
hatred that distorts their ability to comprehend the terrorists,
have imparted a romantic, nationalistic spin to the terrorists
that is incredibly naïve and utterly wrong. These are not
freedom fighters or Minutemen but are cold-blooded murders desirous
of suppressing the rights and liberty of Iraqi citizens and imposing
their own savage will upon them. Whether the terrorists envisage
a return to the glory days of Saddam’s despotism or the
tyranny of an Islamic state they all want to kill a nascent democracy
before it takes root.
To a greater
degree than anyone in the West, the Iraqi people know full
well that what they face is not simply
insurgency but a movement that intends to subjugate them and
their families and descendants for all time. They recognize
that they are in a war, a fight to the death, and that, like
Fathers their lives, liberty, and sacred honor are at stake.
They realize that the only options in war are victory or defeat.
The Iraqi people are choosing victory and they are doing it
in a most courageous manner. They overwhelmingly support the
of upcoming free elections. That is something that the entire
population can join together to make happen as a visible, tangible
sign of success and progress and ultimate rejection of the
An election in Iraq deserves our unqualified
support. Indeed the very concept of an election in this oppressed,
country ought to strike us with awesome respect for the indomitable
quest for freedom that beats in the human heart. Next week the
world is going to watch people risk their lives to exercise a
basic right that far too few in the world enjoy and which among
some countries – America, for example – is a right
taken much too much for granted. Iraqis will suffer the very
real pains of homicide bombers, beheadings, automatic weapons
fire, and exploding grenades to do something that they have never
previously had the opportunity to do: to pick their government
and to select representative leadership.
They realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that their future lies
in these many pieces of paper, these precious ballots that once
cast will inexorably move Iraq from an oppressed, terrorized
land into a land of opportunity and development. Naysayers claim
that because there is no tradition of democracy in Iraq that
elections are an exercise in futility. Nothing can be more wrong-headed.
We need only look to countries that similarly had a culture of
oppression to see how quickly human beings are able to grasp
the opportunities and the challenges of democracy successfully
and build upon them. Japan, South Korea, El Salvador, and Afghanistan
are examples of democracies that were built upon a foundation
of monarch, fascism, authoritarianism, or theocracy. Those people
are changing their own lives and so will Iraqis succeed after
Will change come overnight? Will it be quick
enough to satisfy the carping critics who insist on instant
fixes? Of course not.
Transitions take time, but with completion of this first general
free election time shifts to the side of free Iraqis. The terrorists
are losing, which is the reason that their attacks have degenerated
into mass brutality and cruelty. Iraqis recognize too that there
is a price for freedom. That they are willing to pay that price
can be seen by the large numbers who are also sacrificing their
lives in order to defeat the terrorists. Day after day recruits – brave
volunteers – line up to enlist in the army, security forces,
Day after day they see colleagues blown apart, humiliated by
beheading and mutilation, murdered in public. Yet they accept
the danger and in so doing accept the responsibility for taking
care of themselves, their families and their fellow citizens.
That sense of moral courage coupled with the real, quiet courage
of the population in exercising free voting rights is going to
defeat the false bravado of the terrorists. Their strength is
our example: We need only stay the course and we can help change
the world. tRO
In addition to his Asian credentials, Gordon was the security
assistance desk officer for El Salvador and Central America in
the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1981-1984. Gordon’s
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became
the Evil Twin, is drawing good comments. Gordon is scheduled
to speak at the Flushing Library, Queens, NY on January
15 at 2 pm, public invited.
Gordon Cucullu 2005