The struggle over minority rights is at the center of the differences in creating a democratic government in Iraq. The Shias fear repeating history and losing power to the Sunnis minority. They believe if this happens, like in the past, we (the United States) will not be there to help them. And Sunnis fear having little or no power under an unsympathetic majority.

Americans feel justified, given the supreme sacrifice of our military and the expenditure of so much money, to lecture Iraqis about how they need to get their act together, forgetting they didn’t attack us. One US politician after another berates the Maliki government, and the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds for their intransigence and failure to work out their differences and find common ground.

The reality is that we went into Iraq on a bipartisan basis with two-thirds of the House and three-quarters of the Senate supporting the resolution to use force. And the only way we are going to successfully bring most of our troops home is if we come together, find common ground, and compromise. But this is not likely to happen in the near future, since the leadership and majority of both parties is captive to their so-called party’s base.

Christopher Shays is a United States Representative from Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District. He has been a member of Congress since 1987 and has taken eighteen fact finding trips to Iraq. This talk was delivered at Sacred Heart University on September 17, 2007, as the Annual Constitution Day Lecture.



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