By Terence P. Jeffrey
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr casting his ballot in the Iraqi election. (Screen Capture)
The 2017 State Department report on human rights in Iraq, which was released last month, begins by unambiguously declaring: “Iraq is a constitutional parliamentary republic.”
It says, “The outcome of the 2014 parliamentary elections generally met international standards of free and fair elections and led to the peaceful transition of power from former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.”
Sounds like a bastion of freedom and representative government.
When you actually read the report, however, you quickly discover it is not.
“The (Iraqi) penal code stipulates that any person convicted of promoting Zionist principles, association with Zionist organizations, assisting such organizations through material or moral support, or working in any way to realize Zionist objectives, is subject to punishment by death,” says the report.
This means that if you are an Iraqi and you join a group that gives “moral support” to the belief that Israel has a right to exist, the government of Iraq’s “constitutional parliamentary republic” can arrest you and execute you.
Freedom of conscience in the Iraqi republic is a one-way street.
“The National Identity Card Law automatically registers minor children as Muslims if they are born to at least one Muslim parent or if either parent converts from another religion to Islam,” says the human rights report.
“Personal status laws and regulations prohibit the conversion of Muslims to other religions,” elaborates the State Department’s most recent report on religious freedom in Iraq.
An Iraqi Christian can become a Muslim and automatically bring all their minor children with them, but if one of those minor children, having reached adulthood, decides he believes that the Christian faith he was initially raised in is in fact the true faith, he may not rejoin it.
This is the policy of the Iraqi government the U.S. helped save from the Islamic State — which the State Department correctly declared was committing genocide against Iraqi Christians as well as against Yazidis and Shiite Muslims in the areas it controlled.
President George W. Bush, who in 2003 ordered the U.S. military to overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, was re-elected in this republic in 2004.
On Jan. 20, 2005, he stood in front of the U.S. Capitol and delivered an inaugural address in which he sought to give this nation a global vocation. “Ending tyranny in our world,” he called it.
“So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,” Bush said.
“This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary,” he continued.
“Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities,” Bush said. “And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.”
In December, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who came to power after that 2014 Iraqi election, declared victory over the Islamic State “caliphate.”
“Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination,” he said.
On Saturday, Iraq held another election, which The New York Times reported was “remarkably peaceful.”
“In a country awash with weapons and random violence, Election Day was notably quiet, without any major incidents,” the Times reported on Sunday.
The results indicate that a coalition backed by Shiite clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr was the leading vote getter. Sadr, as the Times noted, was formerly “a firebrand militia leader whose forces once battled American troops in Iraq and were implicated in widespread atrocities against civilians.”
The lesson: Bush was wrong.
America’s foreign policy should aim at advancing the liberty, security and prosperity of the American people, and our leaders must put aside any idea that they can use American power to rearrange the world to fit some Utopian ideal.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com.