A few excerpts from the 60 minutes article:
Try to imagine a peaceful and stable Iraq where business is booming and Americans are beloved. Now open your eyes because 60 Minutes is going to take you to a part of Iraq which fits that description: it's called Kurdistan.
Technically, it's inside Iraq but the Kurds who live there behave as if they already live in a separate state. As correspondent Bob Simon reports, they have their own prime minister, their own army, their own border patrol—even their own flag. And the overwhelming majority of Kurds will tell you they want nothing to do with Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.
And why would they after the brutal way Iraqis under Saddam treated them in the past? Why would they when they’re doing just fine on their own?
When visiting Kurdistan, one can see nation-building wherever one looks—Kurds are building their country day by day. There are more cranes here than minarets and there’s a run on cement. A new mall with 8,000 shops and stalls is going up. So is an apartment complex known as "Dream City," in which some of the units are selling for $1 million. A giant bowling alley is almost finished, and an opera house is not far behind. What’s behind the boom? Security.
Kurds are quick to remind you that they are not Arabs and there is a de facto border between Kurdistan, which is in the northeast corner of Iraq and the rest of Iraq. Arab insurgents who want to slip into Kurdistan must get past hundreds of Kurdish checkpoints. And distinct from much of Iraq, the security forces in Kurdistan are disciplined and loyal. And they’re all Kurds. There are no ethnic divisions here, so the violence stays on the other side of the border.
Asked how many American soldiers have been killed in the Kurdish-controlled area since the beginning of the war, Nechervan Barzani, the 40-year-old prime minister of what is officially called the Kurdistan Regional Government, tells Simon, "No one."
On page #2 of that same article, which is a complete accurate reflection o the 60 minutes show I watched has the words of Dr. Mohamed, from Kurdistan:
"The Kurds will be the best friends in the region," Dr. Mohammed says. "Even better than Israel, I am sure of that. We will be the best friends for the Americans in this region. We will be faithful."
Dr. Mohammed does not view the war as a U.S. invasion. "It is liberation. Americans liberated Iraqi people from dictatorship," he tells Simon.
It is a sentiment echoed in, of all places, a mosque. Like Iraqi Arabs, Kurds are Muslims. But this is surely the only Islamic part of the Middle East where you’ll hear kind words about America after Friday prayers.
"Can America think of Kurdistan as an ally, as a friend?" Simon asked a man.
"We were always with Americans. We even love America. But we are waiting for America to repay our love," the man replied.
Read all three pages of that 60 minutes article.
Which leads me something I saw today, written by Michael Totten, from Iraq. (Via memeorandum)
Iraqis who are not American citizens and who work as interpreters for the American military cover their faces when they work outside the wire. Mahdi Army militiamen and Al Qaeda terrorists accuse of them of collaboration with the enemy. They and their families are targetted for destruction.
Here is the story of one such interpreter who works with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad. He calls himself “Hammer.”
MJT: Why do you work with Americans?
Hammer: When I was 14 years old all I liked was American cars and American movies. America was my dream. It was a dream come true when the United States Army came to Iraq. It was a nightmare in 1991 when they left again.
Maybe someone will think I’m lying, that I’m just saying this. If my friends say something like Russian weapons are the best or German cars are the best I say, no, Americans are. Everyone who knows me knows this about me.
If anyone says Arabs will win against the U.S. they are wrong. The leaders don’t want to be like Saddam. But if the US leaves Iraq it will be a big failure, especially for me. I don’t want to see this. Never.
MJT: Do you like working with Americans?
Hammer: A lot. Especially when I go outside the wire. I feel like a stranger here. When I go back inside I’m home. I have no friends outside, only family. When I go home I stay in my house. I don’t go out on the streets.
MJT: Why don’t you have any friends?
Hammer: I don’t feel like I belong to this society. They think like each other, but they don’t think like me. I can’t continue with them.
I like to know something about everything, to learn as much as I can. In Iraq if you know too much they will laugh and call you a liar.
When I was 20 I liked American music. They don’t like it. (Laughs.)
I don’t like Saddam. I hate his family.
MJT: Why do you have to cover your face?
Hammer: To protect my family. My family lives in Iraq. If they go to the U.S. I won’t have to do it. But I don’t want anyone to know me, to follow me and see where I live and kill my wife and son.
MJT: How did you feel when the U.S. invaded Iraq?
Hammer: Happy. It was like I was living in a jail and somebody set me free. I don’t want Saddam ruling me. Never. I was just waiting and waiting for this moment.
MJT: What do you think about the possibility of Americans leaving?
Hammer: It is like bad dream. Very bad dream. A nightmare. Worse than that. Like sending me back to jail. Like they set me free for four years then sent me back to jail or gave me a death sentence.
Go read the rest of Michael's piece, there is much more in that interview.
These are the people that we are helping. Kurdistan shows a wonderful example of what a good friend and ally Iraq can be to the U.S., once they are stable enough, as a country, to provide their own security.
This interpreter echoes exactly what Dr. Mohammed said, to those that wished to not live under a brutal dictator, we liberated them.
This is why our military men, who have been in Iraq, reenlist to continue their mission there, this interpreter, his family and thousands of others like him, do not deserve to be abandoned.
Our troops, that continue to reenlist, understand this and do not wish to abandon these people to a fate worse than death.
They are willing to stand up beside our troops and coalition forces and fight for the liberty and freedom 12 million of them voted for.
Our country gets so caught up in politics and political games, some forget exactly who and what it is that we are fighting for.
Thank heavens our soldiers don't forget.
Sergeant David D. Aguina---
“This isn’t something political for me. I have an emotional connection with those people in Iraq.”
To illustrate his point, he tells the story of one day while he was on guard duty, protecting a group of Iraqi workers, his command was unable or unwilling to supply him with lunch.
“With the little food they had – and I mean little food – they each pitched in some of their own lunch so that I could eat. It’s amazing that 5 Shiites and 2 Sunnis cared more about my well-being than my own soldiers.
Sergeant Aguina then took a candy wrapper out of his wallet where he had carefully folded it.
It was just a wrapper. But for him, it was a reminder that there are many Iraqis who are grateful for the American presence and that his personal connection with those people was worth standing up in a place like YearlyKos where there was passionate objections to his views and opinions.
“That act of compassion meant so much to me that I kept the wrapper from the first piece of food they gave me and I kept it in my body armor for the rest of the time I was in Iraq to remind me that there’s a lot of good people over there that deserve to be free.”
Cindy Sheehan calls these men "assassins" and yet they have more humanity than half the people in our country do.
A note to Cindy Sheehan and her ilk: These men are heroes and they understand what you never will.
The Iraqi's are human beings that deserve to be free.
To abandon them would be the biggest act of cruelty our country could ever commit.