Tags: Sen. | George | Allen | for | President?

Sen. George Allen for President?

Sunday, 06 March 2005 12:00 AM

Formerly the governor of Virginia, Sen. Allen also served as a U.S. representative and in the Virginia House of Delegates. Now serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he's putting his experience to work around the globe.

While on a recent trip to the Middle East, Allen met with American military troops and government officials from both Iraq and Israel.

Allen told me about his long and encouraging conversation with Ibrahim al-Jaafari of the United Shiite Alliance – the mostly likely choice to be the next Iraqi prime minister.

I asked the senator if he was concerned that al-Jaafari might turn Iraq into a theocracy.

Without hesitation, he responded: "No. Not with him [al-Jaafari]."

Allen detailed his talk with the Iraqi leader, where they agreed on many important principles. They discussed the four pillars of freedom: freedom of religion, expression, private ownership of property, and the rule of law under a system of justice.

The senator brought a copy of the Virginia Bill of Rights to share with al-Jaafari, which Allen considers to be even stronger than the ten amendments that were adopted to form the Bill of Rights.

Allen said that al-Jaafari considers himself to be a religious man who believes that there must be religious tolerance and that all Iraqi citizens must have equal rights. Religion should neither enhance nor diminish a citizen's rights.

Al-Jaafari even pointed out to Allen that the United States has "In God We Trust" on our currency, but there is still tolerance. And al-Jaafari specifically stated that he didn't want Iraq to be like Iran.

Allen explained the significance of al-Jaafari's potential rise to power. If al-Jaafari becomes the next Iraqi prime minister, then Iraq will be the only Arab country to be ruled by a Shiite. All other Arab countries are ruled by Sunnis. (Iran is considered Persian, not Arab.)

This is a great opportunity to show the Arab world that the Shiites can govern. And to that end, al-Jaafari told Allen, he felt a huge responsibility to succeed.

During their talk, they shared some Virginia peanuts, after al-Jaafari politely asked the senator to taste a few first. Yes, Iraq is a dangerous place and Iraq's future leaders obviously can't be too careful.

I asked the senator how he felt the recent attacks would affect the momentum in Iraq. He noted that the attacks were focused increasingly on the Iraqi people themselves, which he believes undermines the goals of the insurgents. Instead of intimidation, this brutal violence seems to be solidifying the resolve of the Iraqis.

"These attacks aren't going to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people," Allen said. "The more vicious and vile these attacks become, the more it reminds the [Iraqi] people of what they don't want for themselves and their children."

"I have a great deal of faith and belief in human beings to want to live free and chart their own course," Allen said.

So, one has to wonder what course Sen. Allen has set for himself. Could the son of the great football coach George Allen be the next president of the United States? I'd certainly keep my eye on the proverbial ball.

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Formerly the governor of Virginia, Sen. Allen also served as a U.S. representative and in the Virginia House of Delegates. Now serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he's putting his experience to work around the globe. While on a recent trip to the Middle...
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Sunday, 06 March 2005 12:00 AM
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