Tomorrow, March 17, will mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. In the United States, this date will be marked by rallies and protests – both opposing an supporting the cause. In Iraq however, it will simply be another day for our fighting men and women as they work with the Iraqis to rebuild that country and defeat the terrorist thugs. Iraq has not gone perfectly, but that country has come a long way in just 4 years. There is still work to be done, but the accomplishments that have been made should not be overlooked.
In just four short years, one of the worst dictators in history has been driven from power, captured, tried by his own people, and executed by a sovereign Iraqi government. In just four short years, the people of Iraqi have gone from living in fear to walking miles to choose their own leaders. Children who once marched and chanted “Hail Father Saddam” now go to normal schools, where they can be educated rather than brainwashed. Women who once feared kidnapping and abuse at the hands of Saddam’s son now hold seats in parliament and help to make important decisions that keep the country running. Sunnis and Kurds who once feared execution without trial now serve as high-level advisers to the Prime Minister.
Undeniably, as in all wars, mistakes and miscalculations have been made. We did not expect there to be such a severe insurgency, and we did not expect the kind of sectarian violence we now see. However, mistakes can be corrected, terrorists and insurgents can be killed or arrested, and side who once fought can be brought together to live in relative peace. In just the last month, Muqtada Al-Sadr has fled, the Mehdi Army he once commanded has been dissolved. Just one month ago, American reporters would not enter Sadr City for fear of being killed. Today, with the new security operation in full swing, the same reporters will walk the streets without any protective gear. Today, as American and Iraqi forces work to clean out insurgents from the streats of Baghdad, the Iraqi government is working hard to give the various sects reasons to support the a unified Iraq – passing oil sharing agreements and working to pass laws that will allow former Baath Party members to participate in the government. This war has been difficult, but the mission is right, the cause is honorable, and success is not only possible, but the benefits of an American victory will help to make the entire world safer.
I cannot say exactly when American troops will come home – that will depend on the situation on the ground and the readiness on the Iraqi forces to fight any remaining insurgents. However, if we stay in Iraqi until the job is done, then we will be able to leave that country not only with pride and honor, but knowing that the sacrifices made by our men and women were worth it. All Americans should take comfort in knowing that each American life lost helped to give freedom to millions of Iraqis, and helped to preserve freedom for hundreds of millions of Americans.