Operation Iraqi Freedom, Plus Five
Posted by Ryan on March 19, 2008
The Iraq War turns five today. On the evening of March 19, 2003, President Bush notified the American people that Saddam’s regime was about to face American/Coalition might after repeated human rights violations and ignoring 17 UN Resolutions — in a post-9/11 world America was not going to ignore gathering threats like we did back in the 1990s. It was already March 20 in Baghdad when the war started, so I’m wearing my patriotic gear tomorrow.
“Operation Iraq Freedom” began that day and in 21 days, on the afternoon of April 9, 2003, Baghdad was liberated from Saddam’s grasp, ending the regime of that vicious dictator for good. I was proctoring lunch duty at work when live pictures and video came in on TV of the toppling of Saddam’s statue. I told all the students watching with me to remember that moment and those pictures of Iraqi children stamping their shoes against the head of Saddam’s statue. It was a proud moment of accomplishment for America.
Yet, we soon learned a tough lesson: just because we’re great at winning war, doesn’t mean we’re great at winning peace. We’re still paying a high price for underestimating the scope of what needed to be done immediately to assuage the Iraqi people after their government collapsed.
Yet, there was no need for shouting like the Libs quickly engaged in. Rather, reasoned determination for a victory that all sides would have lived with, along with a plan that everyone could agree upon should have been exercised. Alas, cooler heads did not prevail, the old maxim that “partisanship ends at the water’s edge” didn’t seem to count this time on the Left, and thusly the partisan/political split began: those who though American needed patience to win, and those who thought we should pick up the ball and go home.
Hence, the last five years. In the midst, the CPA handed over power, a new constitution and government is in place, my brother was sent over for a tour of duty around Taji and Al Asad for a year (January 2005 to April 2006), and the Sunni Awakening coupled with the Surge have given us hope that a page has been turned.
Like the President, I believe that General David Petraeus’ Surge strategy will ultimately see us through to victory in stabilizing Iraq — not even the Dems are saying the troops are coming home next year anymore. It’s going to continue to be a tough slog and a commitment to the Mideast region which we can no longer afford to ignore. Democratization of the Mideast is a bold proposal; some say ridiculous. If it pans out, Bush will be seen as a unique visionary with the forethought and gumption to have taken a chance on an area of the world left out of globalization, democracy, and basic human rights. If it doesn’t pan out, then Bush will be the misguided, dangerous, mistake-ridden dunce that the Left paints him out to be nowadays. “Panning out” could take a while, though.
So, as I see it today and tomorrow are not days of celebration, but of contemplation. I also believe that the most important question to contemplate is this: was nearly 4000 KIA and over 20,000 wounded worth the struggle? I believe that history will vindiate America in the eyes of the region and the world for what we are trying to accomplish.
Plus, I believe America is always at its best when we are trying to allow the oppressed to share in the freedoms we take for granted every day.