Iraqi Boy Scouts
By Hans Zeiger
It is no surprise that Iraq is unstable at the
moment. There's a war on terror going on still, but the Left doesn't seem to be
gaining much ground against President Bush by rambling on about the lack of
Iraqi stability as evidence of a failed war. In fact, there are good reasons to
expect greater peace and prosperity in Iraq in due time.
final prosecution of Saddam Hussein in Iraqi courts will be the ultimate
repudiation of the late regime. Then, as Michael Mandelbaum of the Council on
Foreign Relations suggests, the occurrence of free, fair Iraqi elections next
year will help to "vindicate the investment, in blood and money, that the
United States has made in Iraq." Further, the cultivation of civil society
is vital to proving the rise of stability in Iraq.
we think of civil society in America, we are sure to consider among our finest
institutions the Boy Scouts. As an Eagle Scout, I am convinced that the Scouting
movement is one of the most important modern programs for the molding of boys
into men of character, conscience, and courage - and not merely in the United
States, but around the world. And so the Boy Scouts of Iraq are shaping up, a
sure sign that better things are to come for the Middle East.
of the mighty hope of post-Saddam Iraq is the present transition of an old
Ba'ath Party terror camp to a Boy Scout camp. A vacant secret police compound
that sits on 40 acres along the Tigris River is the object of fundraising and
volunteerism efforts by American Scouts who want to turn it into recreation and
learning facilities for Iraqi Scouts. Planning is underway to recruit Iraqi Boy
Scout and Girl Scout leaders and send them to leadership training conferences.
Boy Scouts of Iraq were established in 1954, but under Saddam Hussein's despotic
rule, severe restrictions were placed on the Scouting program and a separate,
corrupt pro-Saddam youth movement was founded. Though the Iraqi Boy Scouts faded
away, the spirit of Scouting did not.
U.S. Navy Commander Chip Beck, advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority on
the resuscitation of Iraqi Scouting, finds the Iraqi people ready for the return
of the Boy Scouts. Since Scouting celebrates faith and patriotism and integrity,
universal values to distinguish right from wrong, and aspiration to higher
ideals than self, Beck says that he has yet to encounter resistance to his
critics of the Boy Scouts of America could learn a lesson from the simple
idealism of the Iraqi people. In Iraq, radical atheist and homosexual activists
don't seem to be much of a roadblock for the new pioneers of Scouting.
Beck is on the ground in liberated Iraq working with the new Scouting leaders as
well as several international organizations, Texas businessman Michael Bradle is
working in the United States to raise millions of dollars and to raise public
awareness of the Iraqi Scouting Initiative. Together, Beck and Bradle are
co-chairs of the Iraqi International Foundation which is building partnerships
with American and international Scouting organizations to make their dream a
is excited about the growing American movement to assist the Iraqi people as
they bring back Scouting. "We need to get all of the Eagle Scouts and
Scouters we can involved in this project," says Bradle, "not just for
scouting and restarting the scouting project, but to show Americans that scouts
rise to the occasion to make a difference in people's lives! Not since WWII has
there been this kind of high spirit of scouts coming out of the woodwork!"
such Scout is 18-year old Eagle Scout Josh O'Brien of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
who is organizing community leaders across his state to build support for the
Iraqi International Foundation. "This Initiative is a big undertaking and
is on an International scale," O'Brien told me.
to the efforts of Josh O'Brien and many other American Boy Scouts, Iraq will
rejoin the global movement begun by Lord Robert Baden-Powell in 1908. The World
Organization of the Scout Movement claims 28 million Scouts, which includes both
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and adult leaders, in 216 countries. Sadly, in many
of those countries, like Canada and Baden-Powell's Great Britain, the Boy Scout
Oath and Law have been rejected. In those countries, females and homosexuals and
atheists are given equal access to Scout troops with boys.
in some parts of the world, the Scouting movement withers, in other parts like
the United States and our new ally Iraq, it thrives and grows.
Hans Zeiger is president of the Scout Honor Coalition, a Seattle Sentinel columnist, and a student at Hillsdale College. www.hanszeiger.com
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