Read Paul's bio and previous columns


November 24, 2008

America Has Achieved Victory in Iraq


We have won the Iraq War.


It was a war that saw many enemies, from both within and outside of Iraq. It was a war that started out without sufficient troops and with dreadful policies on the ground. And it was a war that saw vigorous attempts of premature withdrawal from within the side that eventually won it.


So it took five years, but with the help and sacrifice of the bravest troops on Earth, we did it. We still have some cleanup to do, yet it is clear and unambiguous that we have won.


In March 2003, Iraq was still ruled by one of history’s most vicious tyrants. Saddam Hussein had started wars with his neighbors and launched ruthless campaigns against his own people. He had used weapons of mass destruction on his own civilians. He had violated numerous United Nations resolutions. He built palaces while he starved his people. He and his two sons received intense thrill and gratification from personally torturing and killing other human beings.


This man ruled a country of more than 27 million people, a population greater than 19 of America’s states combined. And no one was standing up to him. In fact, the same people who were so passionate about meaningless “U.N. resolutions” were waist-deep in corruption and abuse through the Oil-for-Food program.


So the United States, supported by courageous allies (notably the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland), and opposed by others (particularly France, Germany and Russia), decided to do something about Iraq.


There were many reasons to take out Hussein and give the Iraqi people the freedom all people deserve. Republicans, Democrats and nearly every major country and intelligence agency in the world considered it a fact that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was developing more dangerous ones. He had repeatedly violated U.N. resolutions (yet for some reason some thought more “strongly-worded resolutions” would somehow change his mind). He was a constant threat to his neighbors. He was a cruel dictator who killed, abused and starved his people en masse.


And crucially, sowing democracy in Iraq, which is strategically located in the heart of the Muslim world, would allow for the spread of the best antidotes to extremism and terrorism – democracy and capitalism.


So America and her friends invaded Iraq. As was expected, we demolished Hussein’s army. The decision to invade was necessary and perfect.


But then we made mistakes. Big mistakes. We sent in far fewer troops than we needed. We disbanded the Iraqi army. We failed to distinguish between our different enemies. We failed to focus on Iraq’s borders, and the foreign fighters who flooded the country.


Although the progress was remarkable considering the fact that we were flipping a country of 27 million on its head (or, rather, back on its feet), cars were still blowing up. Soldiers were dying. Tapes were rolling. And politicians were getting anxious.


Democratic leadership saw opposition to the Iraq War as a winning issue. They understood the severe consequences of withdrawing prematurely, recognizing that upon withdrawal we would lose Iraq to the terrorists, and the Middle East to overwhelming chaos. But at the same time they knew that President Bush and the Republicans would not withdraw before the job was done. The Democrats had the best of both worlds. They could vociferously feed on the political value of opposing the war, while at the same time taking comfort in the fact that President Bush wouldn’t endanger America and the world by surrendering to the terrorists.


So the Democrats campaigned against the war. They voted against funding the troops. They tried to force timelines for withdrawal. They tried to stop the surge. In fact, Barack Obama confidently proclaimed that not only would the surge fail, but it would actually make the situation worse.


They excused the smearing by their left-wing base of General Petraeus, who got us out of the mess that previous generals had gotten us into. They fought to pass an ill-timed resolution condemning the non-existing Ottoman Empire for century-old crimes, while completely appreciating how such action would exacerbate our relations with Turkey, our strategic ally and Iraq’s neighbor. They insisted that Afghanistan was the “good war” even though Al Qaeda had made it crystal clear that Iraq was their principal target and prize.


They shouted out the numbers of dead troops. When that wasn’t enough, they tried to turn Iraq into a pocketbook issue by throwing out dollar figures at the American people. Democratic Congressman John Murtha announced that the troops were committing “cold-blooded murder.” Sen. John Kerry said the troops in Iraq are dumb.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unilaterally decided to thwart U.S. foreign policy by visiting Bashar al-Assad, who was enabling the entry of terrorists into Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid washed away all sense of responsibility by flatly declaring the Iraq War “lost.” And this was just when our troops were beginning the comeback that has resulted in today’s victory.


By their own admission, Democratic politicians had their own political interests in mind, and not America’s. Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski let it slip out in clear terms: “(We Democrats in the 2006 elections) pushed it as far as we can, the envelope. (We implied) that if we won the congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now, anybody who is a good student of government would know that wasn’t true . . . But you know the temptation to want to win back Congress – we sort of stretched the facts, and people ate it up.”


But in the face of all this reckless pressure, the troops fought on. While their House Speaker was visiting with a man responsible for their deaths, while their Senate Majority Leader declared that the war they were fighting was “lost,” and while their future president said their surge effort was making things worse, the troops marched on with their sacrifices. And they won.


America has eliminated Saddam Hussein, replaced him with an enormously successful democratic system, introduced capitalism, defeated all those who have tried to weaken Iraq, stabilized the country, paved the road for political progress and built a solid Iraqi army to preserve it all.


U.S. soldiers who used to complain about the dangerous work are now literally complaining about boredom. With more than two-thirds of November behind us, only five heroes have died in hostile action, officially making Iraq safer for U.S. soldiers than Chicago is for its residents.


Normal life has returned to the streets. The economy has been booming. A $3 billion subway system is planned for Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers have enough time and money to send aid to wildfire victims in California. On Friday, 10,000 Shiites marched in the streets to protest a proposed security agreement – a healthier display of freedom of expression than that of church-storming Prop 8 opponents.


Now of course, the victory does not compel our immediate withdrawal, just like a recovering patient does not immediately jump out of bed and run home after a surgery. We must thus remain in Iraq until it is safe to withdraw. We must also keep in mind that the Iraq War was only a battle of a wider, continuing, long-term War on Terror – and that Iraq will be crucial for our victory in that struggle.


For now, however, we have freed a large country, we have sowed the seeds of freedom as an alternative to extremism in the entire Middle East, and we have protected the world from a major menace. What a victory.


Unfortunately, over 4,000 U.S. and coalition soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis are no longer with us to join in the celebration. But their lives must be honored to the last man and woman. The world was made much safer by their sacrifice, and by their victory.

© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column # PI141. Request permission to publish here.
Op-Ed Writers
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Bob Franken
Lawrence J. Haas
Paul Ibrahim
Rob Kall
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Gregory D. Lee
David B. Livingstone
Bob Maistros
Rachel Marsden
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Jamie Weinstein
Brett Noel
Feature Writers
Mike Ball
Bob Batz
Cindy Droog
The Laughing Chef
David J. Pollay
Business Writers
D.F. Krause