Oppression of Iraqi gay community justifies American occupation

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

To have the ability to debate is a privilege unto itself. Paid for with the blood of our ancestors, the existence of movements, discourse, and democratic referenda on controversial topics is an element of liberty unique to progressive governance. The struggle in Iraq is as much about spreading liberty to the average Iraqi as it is about winning a battle in a central front in the war on terror. Often ignored in the overall struggle are communities within the Middle East that would be most affected by a premature pull-out of regional engagement.

For our purposes here, premature pull-out means any surrender (called redeployment by Murtha-types) that eclipses victory.

A premature coalition withdrawal would undoubtedly remove the lid on an internal Iraqi power struggle seemingly ready to boil over at the slightest weakening of control in the country. The years following a pull-out could lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians as the Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish forces battle for control of the country in a power vacuum. In calls to surrender in Iraq, led by the far-left sirens, American politicians grow increasingly spineless and disconnected with the purpose of the mission.

Ironically, in the event of surrender, those most affected in the first waves of unbuffered sectarian violence would be comprised of a community that the left pretends to care greatly about. The gay community in the Middle East faces a severe crisis in the radicalized portions of the region. In the past few months, the easily corruptible and often troubled United Nations has actually completed some good work: It has published reports confirming the existence of roaming death squads that target and kill gays in Iraq, punishing them for the very act of homosexuality.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) publishes a Human Rights report on a bi-monthly basis. The last few reports have included a subsection on sexual orientation in the region. It is noted in section 114 that “armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq.” While every day there are reports that frame the Iraq mission as failing, the reports casting the enemy in an accurate light are as severely lacking as reports on progress in the region.

The UN document details an account where “at least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from Shaab area in the first week of December by one of the main militias.... The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared in the same area after a few days.” While these events continue today, imagine a situation where there was an absence of coalition forces securing a zone in Iraq. Imagine a situation where there was no resistance to a complete disintegration into chaos and civil war.

In the long run, allowing time for a coalition government to form, congeal, and learn to operate effectively will save lives. Effective coalition government has the power to soften the influence of Islamic law on the governmental structure. Minority groups in Iraq that currently fall out of favor with local clerics are tried in sham trials and often sentenced to death. In fact, the November-December UNAMI report details “the HRO [UNAMI Human Rights Office] was also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be ‘tried,’ ‘sentenced’ to death, and then executed.” Furthermore, according to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, “the trials, presided over by young inexperienced clerics, are held in ordinary halls. Gays and rapists face anything from 40 lashes to the death penalty.” It requires no additional explanation to say that equating gays and rapists is, at the very least, entirely inappropriate.

By some accounts, there are more executions of gays now than during the Saddam Hussein regime. However, this comparison is flawed and fails to place adequate blame on the radical Iranian influence among Iraqi death squads. It is appropriate to note the alleged rise in slayings of members of the gay community, but not as a reflection of a failed process. Comparing an established regime, however brutal, to an incomplete democratization process solely serves political interests and reeks of in tellectual dishonesty. Furthermore, pretending that surrender in Iraq is a viable solution for either the people of the United States or affected Iraq communities is an ignorant deathwish.

In the conservative movement there is a range of views on social and lifestyle issues such as gay marriage and adoption. Giuliani Republicans engage Cheney conservatives in intellectual debates on the matter. However strongly they may disagree issue by issue, conservatives still agree on one main principle: The answers to political problems are found in liberty and freedom. Further, conservatives who understand the ongoing effort in the Middle East also understand the repercussions of a loss in Iraq. To surrender in Iraq would not only cause mass death of innocents far greater than any collateral damage to date, but also the complete deterioration of the projective power of American foreign policy for decades to come.

The story of the Iraqi Muslim gay community underscores the overall struggle for democratic progress and freedom in the region. Whether differing by religion, race, or sexual orientation, the slayings of individuals on the basis of their lifestyles alone continues today. A successful mission in Iraq goes a long way towards securing the future of democracy and progressivism in the Middle East. The liberal position of surrender assures future decades of violence and oppression against scores of civilians, including members of minority groups who liberals feign to represent. After all, in an absolute theocracy, there is only one interest group.

Benjamin Hackett (bhackett@) invites readers to learn more at