Wednesday, May 10, 2006

An Army Captain's Experience with "Democracy"

"Capt. Riffe also realized, however, that the introduction of democracy in Iraq would be a long process. "Their system had been in place for thousands of years -- everything ran through the local sheikh. Here's how far they are from the democratic system we've got: During the January 2005 elections, I was with one of my interpreters checking a polling station. I asked my interpreter to find out when the ballots were supposed to show up. And my interpreter looked at me like I was from a different planet. He asked, 'What are those words you just said?' And I said 'Ballots and polling stations.' … That's when I finally realized how new democracy was to them. Their language didn't even incorporate the words."

I've stated in public speaking engagements and different forums that the concept and even the word "democracy" was intangible to the Iraqi's. It was something that was hard for them to put their arms around, to define, to understand what it meant. But, when you talked about freedom, their eyes lit up and they started talking!!!! They, as does every living person, understood freedom, desired it, and wanted it. That's the concept, the idea they understood we have, and believe me they wanted that. They would start rattling off the things they wanted out of life and knew that freedom was the road to that life. My experience with Iraqi's leads me to believe that if we spent more time talking about freedom, we'd get farther, faster.

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