- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

In some ways, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s address to Congress yesterday, during which the Iraqi leader made a powerful case for American support, was not unlike Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie’s historic address to the League of Nations 68 years ago: a compelling speech delivered in order to rally the civilized world in repelling aggression against a small nation. Although Mr. Allawi’s address got a warm reception from President Bush and an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Congress, it received a dismissive response from Sen. John Kerry.

On June 30, 1936, Selassie ( a man whose title included the “Lion of Judah”), spoke before the League of Nations in Geneva, where he implored the international community to reverse Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s aggression against Ethiopia. Selassie described how Italy had brutally conquered his nation, employing mustard gas to slaughter men, women and children. Unfortunately, the League of Nations, a weak organization practicing appeasement, failed to act.

Like Selassie’s address, Mr. Allawi’s was an effort to rally free peoples to support an embattled country against dark, messianic totalitarian forces. But the major threat to the Iraqi people right now is not from foreign armies — as was the case in Selassie’s time — but from a multinational coalition of terrorists, supported by neighboring states like Iran and Syria. They hope that, by killing as many people (both Iraqis and non-Iraqis) as possible they can drive U.S.-led coalition forces out of the country and establish an Islamist dictatorship.

Yesterday Mr. Allawi thanked Congress and the American people “for making our cause your cause, our struggle your struggle” and going to war “to liberate my country.” He added: “I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed … as we lived under tyranny at home, so our neighbors lived in fear of Iraq’s aggression and brutality. Reckless wars, use of weapons of mass destruction, the needless loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the financing and exporting of terrorism, these were Saddam’s legacy to the world … your sacrifices are not in vain.”

Although Mr. Allawi’s remarks were repeatedly interrupted by applause from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, Mr. Kerry, who rarely makes it to the Senate floor these days, delivered a contemptuous response from the campaign trail: “The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put the best face on the policy,” but reports from the battlefield suggest that American is “losing the peace.”

Yet Mr. Kerry continues to have a credibility problem of his own — the fact that he has failed to come up with any workable solutions to Iraq’s problems that are substantively different from Mr. Bush’s. Worse, his heart just doesn’t seem to be in a stubborn fight for victory. John Forbes Kerry seems increasingly like a modern-day version of the defeatist, enervated men of the failed League of Nations.

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