Marvin's Window

Iraq's independence swifter than America's

I looked out my window across the valley anticipating the fireworks the city will display Sunday evening celebrating that Declaration of Independence signing July 4, 1776.

It was more than a year after the shots heard 'round the world were fired at Lexington and Concord April 19, 1775, when the colonists signed the document.

That is a timeline similar to the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003 and the declaration of their sovereignty June 28, 2004.

Of course, the founders of this country still had a long and difficult road ahead.

The British forces chased the tattered American army all over the East Coast, and our defeat seemed just a matter of time.

Our troops had few arms, little training and totally inadequate funding and were fighting the dominant power in the world.

No chance would be the best bet.

Many residents of the 13 colonies were still loyal to the King of England.

No polls were taken, but Benedict Arnold was a traitor to some and a hero to others.

He was not alone.

It was not until Oct.

19, 1781, that General Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown.

The war lasted nearly six years, five years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

We celebrate the beginning of a long and costly struggle on July 4.

The outcome could have been quite different.

It was the French fleet of 36 ships in Chesapeake Bay that cut off Cornwallis' army and convinced him to give up the fight.

That may have been the last time the French have been on our side.

The U.S.

fought the next war in 1812 against the British again.

It was another seven years following the Revolutionary War before the colonies could write a permanent Constitution and form a government.

George Washington went home to Mt.

Vernon in 1781 and was not called back to become the first president until 1789.

Iraq has full sovereignty as of June 28, 2004.

They have until January 2005 to write a constitution and conduct elections for a new government.

We took nearly eight years from the end of the war in 1781 to electing Washington in 1789.

We expect Iraq to do the same in seven months.

Much has been said about the religious conflicts in Iraq, the terrorist attacks and the balance of rights between the majority and the minority.

The U.S.

had 13 independent colonies with strong and differing religious views.

Telling the federal government it could not declare a national religion eventually solved that.

Each was left to worship as they wanted.

That has evolved to a ridiculous point today that denies the rights of religious people in the interest of unbelievers.

Tolerance is nearly extinct in America today.

The Iraqi people do have a difficult task ahead.

Yet, they are a country with rich resources.

The people who left Iraq and the 23-year tyranny of Saddam have been prosperous in other countries, including a large population in the Detroit area.

Many were educated in this country and have learned to live in a free society.

Several members of the governing body have returned to their homeland from a good life in the United States.

I firmly believe the people want to live freely in a democratic country that rewards effort and the principles of free enterprise.

"We are the cradle of civilization," I heard one official say.

Baghdad is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers near the ancient ruins of Babylon.

The area is referred to as the cradle of western civilization in history books I read in school long ago.

The radial terrorist groups around the world, including in Iraq, now threaten the existence of civilization with barbaric acts that kill any one for any reason.

It seems appropriate that our civilized society would join the rest of civilized society in this world to make a stand where it all started long ago in Iraq.

Some of my secular friends may not believe that the Garden of Eden was actually located in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates.

They may dispute the story in the Bible of the Tower of Babel when people were scattered across the earth.

Nevertheless, ruins of ancient Babylon are easy to find near Baghdad.

Saddam tried to rebuild them in his image.

Now the people who suffered under Saddam for 23 years have an opportunity to build a free society.

Their success will go a long way toward making a civilized society free from terrorist attacks possible for the rest of us.

If they fail and we fail in our support of them, the rest of us can look to Israel to see our future.

The Israelis have lived with terrorist attacks for more than 50 years.

Success of the Iraqis is important to me and my grandchildren.

Good luck guys.

May your Independence Day be looked back on as the same kind of beginning of freedom and success as our Fourth of July.

Marvin Robertson is the Miner's business/city government reporter.