Sunday, September 26, 2004

During his visits to Washington and New York last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi delivered an impassioned defense of his government’s fight against the terrorist insurgency. Mr. Allawi was nothing if not eloquent in thanking the American people for ending the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. While he received a warm, bipartisan reception from numerous American elected officials in Washington, Mr. Allawi has gotten shabby treatment from John Kerry’s presidential campaign — the worst offender being senior Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart.

Mr. Allawi thanked Congress and the American people for going to war “to liberate my country.” By speaking out, he implicitly challenged what has become a central foreign policy theme of Democratic nominee John Kerry’s presidential campaign: that Mr. Bush’s decision to go to war to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein was a mistake and a diversion from the “real” war on terror.

In his speech to Congress, Mr. Allawi reminded the world how for more than a quarter century the Iraqi people and their neighbors lived in fear of Saddam Hussein and his secret police and military forces. Inside Iraq, Saddam’s regime was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people. Since 1979, he noted, Saddam’s military attacks against his neighbors triggered three wars, resulting in the deaths of more than a million people. Iraq was also a financier and supporter of terrorism. Mr. Allawi paid a moving tribute to American soldiers who died since the war in Iraq began last March. “Your sacrifices were not in vain,” he told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Allawi’s congressional address was repeatedly interrupted by applause from Democrats and Republicans alike. Sen. Joseph Biden, a Kerry supporter and one of numerous lawmakers who met Mr. Allawi last week, said he was impressed by the Iraqi leader.

But Mr. Kerry and his running mate John Edwards reacted scornfully to his assessment of the war. Mr. Kerry dismissed Mr. Allawi’s Senate speech as part of a Bush-Allawi effort “to put the best face on the policy.” Mr. Edwards was even more dismissive, stating: “Prime Minister Allawi’s trip to the United States was filled with all the wrong lessons, lessons from an administration that just can’t seem to tell the truth when it comes to Iraq.” The ugliest treatment of all came from Mr. Lockhart, the former Clinton White House spokesman. After the Allawi-Bush press conference Thursday, Mr. Lockhart said that “The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips.”

Of course, it is shameful that Mr. Allawi —who was almost bludgeoned to death with an axe by Saddam Hussein’s assassins —should be labelled a puppet of anyone by the Kerry campaign. Mr. Kerry and his associates are embarrassing themselves with their strident campaign to discredit the president’s efforts to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein.

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