By Ken Joseph Jr.

Shivers went up my spine as I read the sudden announcement of a tentative agreement to disband the Coalition Provisional Authority and American control in Iraq by June.

First for the shocking lack of understanding of the conditions on the ground or even a cursory understanding of history and second because I had been told over and over by Iraqis that precisely this would happen.

I was in Iraq before the war during Sadaams time against the war. Seeing and experiencing the sheer terror that the people lived under and their desperate desire for the Americans to come and liberate them regardless of the cost forced me to change my position. `I Was Wrong`!

Immediately after the war when we returned to Baghdad with the first post-war relief truck of water, medicine, food and satellite telephones amidst the Euphoria and the joy of Sadaam being gone and the people finally free I got into a fight.

A fight it turned out with someone who later on became a member of the Governing Council of Iraq and was and is a dear friend.

He was viewing the end of Sadaam and the entrance of the Americans into the city with a very different view. I was elated! As an Assyrian Christian we are the indigenous people of Iraq.

Most people forget that Iraq is Assyria, Mosul is Nineveh where Jonah of the Whale fame came to call our people to repent and the Assyrians are Christians.

After having been abused by Sadaam for 35 years and now liberated by the Americans I told them all `Now everything will be ok! You can trust the Americans. I was born and raised in Japan and the Americans occupied Japan for seven years until things were stable, there was a constitution in force, elections were held and they still are there. Dont worry! They will do the same in Iraq. `

The Assyrian Christians along with the Iraqi Arabs were jubilant! He was finally gone! Before the war when I was in Iraq Sadaams picture was everywhere! Having gone there initially against the war and having to change my mind when I saw how hated he was it was a bizarre scene.

But now he was gone!

I was angry at my friend. `What is wrong with you! You are always so negative! The Americans are here! They will make everything right! They will never abandon our people like the British did and they will never leave until everything is put in place.`

He looked at me with a look of what seemed pity. As one who had lived on the run for most of his life against Sadaam and a student of history he was always cautious. But this time I was angry.

He continued. `Ken, I am not being negative. I just want to be realistic. I know the Americans. I hope and pray along with you that they will do what they did in Japan - that they will stay forever, that they will not leave until we have a constitution and a bill of rights and stability. But, Ken, the Americans are very impatient. They dont care about us. They will stay maybe a year, maybe two but they will leave and we will be left to fend for ourselves`.

Now I was very angry! `You are so ungrateful! Why did they risk their lives to come here? They came because they care and want to liberate Iraq and give our people a new life. You should be ashamed of yourself` I said.

Quietly, though I began to understand why so many of the Assyrian Christians had refused the help we had carefully negotiated from the Americans.

They would always say `If the people see us being helped by the Americans when they are gone the people will come after us.`

No matter how I tried to meet with him and others they were all steadfast in their belief that at the end of the day the Americans would not be there for them.

This affected everything - their reluctance to ever speak what they really felt in meetings and the constant state of intimidation I would see firsthand and their constant fear that in the end they would be left alone and anything they said or did would be held against them.

I can not forget those eyes. The eyes of my friend, of other leaders and many of the common people. It was a look of wistfulness. It was a look of hopelessness. It was a look of sadness.

They were delighted at being free of Sadaam! They were delighted at the coming of the Americans! There was dancing in the streets! The streets even now are full at night - people happy to for the first time in their lives surf the internet, watch regular TV, talk on the telephone and to their friends without fear!

Why would they not be delirious!

But all the happiness was always tempered with the strongly held believe that the Americans would soon tire, they would be left alone and very possibly things would be worse than even under Sadaam.

Until I read the news I argued forcefully in every opportunity I could that the Americans would not leave.

Now what can I say when they look at me with that look and say quietly `we told you so`!

June is too soon! We can not and must not disband the Coalition Provisional Authority before the basics have been set up - a Constitution, elections and an elected government in place.

I fully understand the elections coming up. I fully understand the terrible casualties. I was supposed to be at the UN Compound the day and time of the explosion. I fly into Baghdad each time in a tiny plane maneuvering to make sure we do not get shot down.

At the same time I remember how it was during Sadaam and in spite of all the contrary reporting know how different things are now!

We must not let forces of evil prevail! This is exactly what they wanted - to tire out the Americans so they would pull out so they could come back.

The world is watching! The people in similarly oppressed countries are watching! The `thug rulers` throughout the world are watching!

There was rejoicing throughout the world on the wrong side with the announcement. The The `thug rulers` of the middle east and throughout the world rejoiced!

The people, the regular people though quietly said `we told you so.`

The Americans owe it to the people of Iraq, the oppressed peoples throughout the world and to those who gave their precious lives not to create the Islamic Republic of Iraq. The Iraqi people have a right to enjoy the same dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a free and democratic society.

After 35 years of opression 14 months is impossibly too soon! Most Iraqis still suffer from the psychological trauma of having lived in hell for so many years! I have seen it firsthand - in my family! Most still believe Sadaam is coming back! It will take years before they are even in a psychologically condition to be able to be `normal` again!

The American troops on the ground - and I know and work with many of them on a daily basis - gladly have sacrificed because they believe that the Iraqi people deserve just what they have and after 35 years of opression now is their chance!

Please prove my friend wrong! June is too soon! Don`t let victory be snatched away because of impatience! We owe it to those who gave their lives - all 423 of them - so Iraq would be free!

Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian and has been in Iraq since March, directs and is writing a book about his experience in Iraq entitled `I Was Wrong!`

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