by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
March 11, 2007
IT'S TIME TO TAKE A STAND IN IRAQ
I can appreciate that Americans who have been lied to about the war in Iraq from even its inception would lose faith in a war that is going badly for the United States. Various Democratic proposals to bring all troops home from Iraq by a date certain is an understandable one. But I have never believed that Congress should usurp the war-making powers of the presidency, and I believe that a retreat from Iraq is ill-advised.
We are told that we are in the middle of a sectarian
civil war. That did not stop the British from engaging both sides
in its peacekeeping role in Northern Ireland, where a sectartian
civil war raged for decades. And it did not stop us from going into the
breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, where a
sectarian civil war was leading to the slaughter of
thousands of Kosovo's Muslim majority, and it
should not be a reason from withdrawing from Iraq,
where the possibility of much greater bloodshed is
as real and obvious as today's headlines.
The fact is that the United States removed the head of state of Iraq, a war criminal whose brutal tactics had suppressed the sectarian civil war that is now exploding all around us. As justly deserved as Saddam Hussein's ouster was, it was America that provided the vacuum in which this sectarian civil war exists. Now, American troops are the last barrier to an all-out conflict that will surely destabilize the entire region, where every neighbor of Iraq - from Turkey and Iran to Saudia Arabia - has an important stake in the outcome of a battle that would pit Iraqis against Iraqis, and Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds against each other and lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents.
And, perhaps worst of all, our departure will signal the last great defeat for American values of religious tolerance and freedom in the Middle East, and so will fundamentally dishonor all of the young men and women of our volunteer armed forces who went to Iraq ready and willing to stop the viral spread of radical Islamic fundamentalism. When America is gone from this fight, there will be no able defender of religious freedom left on Earth.
And it will certainly provoke some difficult decision- making for Israel as it tries to secure its future in a Middle East that will become increasingly dominated by extremist regimes. Pakistan will be deeply weakened by a stronger, more aggressive iran, and if President Musharraf's government then falls, radical Islam will control that nation's future - with potentially deadly consequences for India. But for Israel, the extremely aggressive jihadists of Islamic fundamentalism may force a resort to the use of its nuclear arsenal in the Middle Eastern theater, and when that Pandora's Box is opened, only the descent into darkness of modern civilization may close it once again.
I went to Vietnam as a journalist and lost my cousin Paul and three of my good friends from high school among the 50,000 U.S. troops who died there. Like many Americans, I also marched against the Vietnam War because, as Muhammad Ali once said, I had no quarrel with the Viet Cong. But 3,000 American families do have a quarrel with radical Islam and the aliQaeda members who attacked the New York and Washington. Americans should have a quarrel with a violence-driven religious movement that makes women second-class citizens and deprives others of their right to practice whatever religion they choose, or none.
In some ways, we are fortunate that al-Qaeda and other jihadists have chosen to make their last stand for intolerance and extremism there in Iraq, and not in Europe or the United States. And that is the fundamental reason we are in Iraq - not for oil, but for a victory over the same kind of mindless fascism Adolf Hitler presented in the 1930's.
This is a war we must fight, and must win. Despite the headlines, progress is being made. One very significant example is the lack of resistance to U.S. patrols in Sadr City, which was formerly a fierce battleground for our troops, as Shiite leaders realize our fight is not with Islam but with violence of the kind represented by al-Qaeda, Sunni and Shiite insurgents.
Telling our enemies in Iraq and elsewhere when we are leaving only puts more of our troops at risk, and allows the enemy to develop strategies that will inflict the greatest possible harm. It is not a time quit the fight; now is the time to make a stand for what is right.