If The Iraqi Government Falls, It Will Be A Triumph

There is much speculation that the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was on the ropes, a victim of the growing violence by the radical Shia militia led by Muqtada al-Sadr, an anti-American, anti-Sunni extremist said to be allied with Maliki.

The senior Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim is said to be at the center of a new, emerging coalition that would include Sunni and Kurds dedicated to restoring order and ending the attempt by al-Qaida radicals on the one side and Sadr on the other to throw Iraq into a paroxysm of violence even greater than what has tortured Baghdad and surrounding areas for months.

The collapse of one government and its replacement by another would be a major milestone in the advance of Iraqi democracy. The sorting out of the past year has been an agonizing one to watch, as Iraqi patriots separated themselves from Iraqi plotters and Iraqi power brokers.

Americans expecting an easy transition to a fully functioning democracy would do well to recall not just the violence of our long revolutionary struggle, but the upheavals and intrigues of our early years, from Shay's Rebellion to Burr's machinations. The weapons are deadlier these days, and the intrigues are supported by thuggish regimes on two sides of Iraq. But there are within the country many determined to rescue it not just from Saddam's dead-enders, but the foreign terrorists allied with Osama and the Shia millenialists across the border.

The Associated Press has reported that Sadr allies believe that "the office of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, spiritual leader of most Iraqi Shiites, indicated the Iranian-born al-Sistani was not averse to replacing al-Maliki," and that "Al-Sistani issued an unusually harsh criticism of the government in July."

Hugh Hewitt is host of the nationally syndicated "Hugh Hewitt" show and the executive editor of Townhall.com. He blogs at hughhewitt.com.

The grand ayatollah has never been an advocate of the radical brand of Shia Islam practiced across the border, and ordinary Iraqis of every sect must deeply resent the attempt by Tehran to replace one brutal dictator with another.

When governments fall due to votes of "no confidence" in other parts of the world, the U.S. punditry does not embark on meditations about the end of a regime. One useful example to recall: After Italy emerged from the ruins of war and a fascist dictatorship that had degenerated into a killing partner with Hitler, a long struggle with the Italian communists ensued. And despite the famous "50 governments in 50 years," Italy is a vital member of the Western coalition of free democracies.

Greece, too, went through a brutal civil war after its fascist collaborationist government was overthrown during the war. That bitter and violent conflict raged for more than three years, from March of 1946 through September of 1949. Like the violence in Iraq, many civilians could not avoid the killing. But freedom in Greece prevailed.

Iraq is transitioning through a perilous time, but unlike our commitment to the Italians and the Greeks, the ISG Report has given Iraqis good reason to believe that the United States is not the ally it once was. This is the crisis of the month, not the fall of one government and the rise of another.

Increasingly, President Bush's model must be Harry Truman, who never flinched (and who is spinning at this hour that the crooked Kofi Annan has been invited to his Library in Independence to slag America for its role in the world). Governments can come and go, but like Truman, Bush must stand with the people who want freedom, not the elites who long for "stability."

Hugh Hewitt is host of the nationally syndicated "Hugh Hewitt" show and the executive editor of Townhall.com. He blogs at hughhewitt.com.