Koch's Comments: Prejudice in politics

Our troops must be authorized by the Maliki gov't to treat both Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents equally.

ed koch 88 (photo credit: )
ed koch 88
(photo credit: )
The war in Iraq goes on. The most respected war correspondent in Iraq is John F. Burns of The New York Times, who seems to discuss the war in Iraq nightly on New York City television stations. You can't mistake him. While the US soldiers he regularly describes have G.I. haircuts, his hair has the look of an unshorn Merino sheep. From under that wildly uncombed head of hair comes the clearest analysis of what is happening on the ground in Iraq. Burns is bearish on his expectations of what will result from the Bush "surge" following the introduction of 21,000 more US troops into Iraq, 17,000 of whom will be assigned to Baghdad. The city of Baghdad holds 25 percent of Iraq's population consisting of both Shi'ites and Sunnis. Almost every day, fifty to one hundred Iraqi civilians are victims of the escalating civil war between those two groups. Their tortured executed bodies are found in Baghdad. Many victims have been hung from lampposts. President Bush's announced purpose of increasing our troops in Baghdad is to stop the sectarian violence. In a recent New York Times article Burns wrote, "First among the American concerns is a Shi'ite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the Americans worry that they will be frustrated in their aim of cracking down equally on Shi'ite and Sunni extremists, a strategy President Bush has declared central to the plan." Quoting an unnamed American official, Burns wrote, "We are being played like a pawn." The chief culprit in escalating the sectarian religious violence is Moktada al-Sadr who rules supreme in the "main stronghold for the Mahdi army militia," according to Burns. If the Sunni militants are to be brought under control so must the Shi'ite militants. Burns wrote, "American officers say it is far from clear that the Maliki government will permit American troops to operate freely in the enclave (Sadr city in Baghdad)." Democrats must find a way to adopt binding language on the administration that will start the process of US disengagement unless our Arab and NATO allies join us and provide combat forces in Iraq. Pending our departure from Iraq, our troops engaged in combat must be authorized by the Maliki government to treat equally under rules of engagement both Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents. President Bush should demand that Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi parliament immediately enact a resolution empowering US forces to proceed against both Shi'ite and Sunni insurgents and terrorists. If Maliki supports and believes in President Bush's announced program, which Bush has said is Maliki's program, he will have no problem in obtaining the resolution. If he declines or is unable to obtain its passage, every American, whether supportive or opposed to the president's policy, should make known to the president and the Congress their support for bringing our troops home. * * * Hatred of Jews is deeply ingrained in the Polish population. This hatred was clearly illustrated during the recent uproar following the appointment of Stanislaw Wielgus as Archbishop of Warsaw to replace Cardinal Jozef Glemp and his ultimate resignation at the Warsaw Cathedral. Over the years, Glemp expressed his hostility toward Jews on several occasions. It required the intercession of Pope John Paul II to overrule him. Archbishop Wielgus, just designated by Pope Benedict XVI, was compelled to resign after, according to The New York Times, "admitting that he had worked with the Communist-era secret police in Poland," and that "he compounded that damage by denying 'facts of this cooperation' in recent days." In other words, he lied. What was the public reaction to the Archbishop's resignation? The Times reported that, to his credit, Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski "has led the country's renewed efforts to expose former Communist secret police agents and their informants." But anti-Semitism in Poland was present in the Cathedral when the Archbishop announced his resignation. The Times reported, "Some of his supporters shouted that 'Jews' were trying to destroy the church. Ant-Semitism, long present in Poland, is a particular problem within some conservative branches of the Polish Catholic church." As I write this column at my desk in my office at the Bryan Cave law firm, I'm looking at a photo taken in 2005 when the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa, was in New York City. At the Polish consulate on Madison Avenue, he presented 11 Americans, including me, with medals thanking us for our support of the Solidarity Movement. I recall my visit to Poland in 1987 when I was mayor of New York City. In Poland I asked the government officials for permission to travel from Warsaw to Gdansk to meet with Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarity Movement. I was told that I could choose between meeting with their president at the time, Wojciech Jaruzelski, or with Walesa and that the president would meet with me immediately if I gave up my request to go to Gdansk. I told them, what you are suggesting is comparable to the situation were I in India and the British officials told me I could meet with Mahatma Gandhi or the Viceroy-Louis Mountbatten -- but not both. Who do you think I would have chosen to meet? I will go to Gdansk, and I did. Little did I know that Walesa would become President of Poland and years later present me with the Solitary medal. Regrettably, Lech Walesa, hero of the Solidarity movement, has a history of acts and statements that are anti-Semitic. His close friend, Rev. Henryk Jankowski, whom I met when I visited Walesa in 1987, delivered a sermon in Walesa's presence in which Jankowski, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, accused the Jews of "satanic greed" which "were the cause of communism and World War II." The JTA reported that Walesa, when asked, "refused to repudiate the priest's remarks." While a candidate for president of Poland, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Walesa made "anti-Semitic remarks during his heated presidential race, implying his opponents were Jews." He later apologized. Walesa, like so many people with heroic qualities, has feet of clay. The two people who befriended the Jews in different times who I admire and whose feet were as unyielding as marble are Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. * * * In questioning Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the US Senate, Barbara Boxer raised the issue of Rice being single, having no children in the military, and therefore being unqualified to make policy on the war in Iraq. What nonsense! Does Boxer really believe that public officials are only capable of doing what is best for them personally, and not what's best for the country? Boxer's outburst was criticized by some Democratic senatorial colleagues. She should have been formally denounced by them as the disgrace she is to the Democratic Party. When will Californians throw her out of office? Regrettably, not soon. In the 2004 election, Boxer defeated her opponent by a margin of 20 percent. There must be a word to describe her prejudice and lack of respect for single and childless women. Let me have your suggestion. * * * Previous entries: We must have allies in Iraq NY needs change George Bush is my hero