Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"laying the foundation of peace for our children " 

The President's speech last night has drawn much commentary from both sides, with Dems lining up to condemn references to 9/11 as quickly as republicans are praising his resolve. I was impressed with several key, but very basic, aspects of his speech, particularly his repetition of the key themes (stamina, courage, respect for our troops sacrifice and the need to take the fight to them), and his firm connection of the war on terror and the war in Iraq, which are one and the same (as argued further here). But following the speech, I had a brief conversation with a woman that both uplifted my spirits, and reassured me of the need for speeches like the one last night.
She is a huge fan of Bush, self-described, but becomes very hung up on the Iraq situation. As soon as the President finished, she turned to me with a genuinely interested look.

"Wait, aren't we in Iraq because of September 11?"
It was difficult for me to decide how to answer this, but I realized that, to the chagrin of senate democrats, but we are in Iraq because of September 11. We need to remember the lessons of that day: Osama bin Laden was given nearly a decade of free reign by the Clinton Administration, in which he escalated his attacks and ignited hatred across the Middle East. Having watched that threat materialize at last, one must consider the thought process that went on before invading Iraq. Allowing Osama bin Laden and his cohorts in Afghanistan to go unchecked lead to 3000 deaths; the possibilities available to a much more organized regime, rich in oil, are by far more vast. Emboldened by a terrorist attack, Saddam could have begun a campaign of his own. His stockpiles of weapons and blatant disregard of UN sanction only strengthened the need for his removal. The cost of the war is great, I agree, but the cost of inaction could have been catastrophic. We are in Iraq because we couldn't afford not to be in Iraq. It was right then, and it’s right now. It only remains to remind critics that the only reason we can be sure he is not armed with WMDs is because we went in and made sure.
Or as the president put it so well:
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”

"Oh, I know." She responds, after a short but reflective silence, "It's just sad that we are sending all these young men to die."
This, also, is true, because the loss of any of our servicemen is tragic. But, as I reminded her, we must first remember that those who are in Iraq want to be there, at least in some capacity: our armed forces are completely voluntary. Each man or woman who joins, despite his or her motives, knows that they could be shipped out to the dark places of the world to defend the US and allies. I think that President Bush addressed the subject well when he spoke on the honor and dignity that should be afforded our fallen heroes, and that the greatest honor we could offer was to ensure their loss is not in vain. We have seen losses before. Iin fact we as a nation have endured casualties on a scale now unknown in the world. Thousands more died on the beaches of Normandy in a period of weeks than we have lost in 3 years. During the American Civil War, we lost over 50,000 in 72 hours. 50,000. Our losses should be mourned, but we cannot allow ourselves to turn from our goal when the path gets more treacherous. The president is right, we are laying the foundations of peace.
It was a revealing encounter, in that it shows why the mainstream media has so failed the United States Armed Forces, and the American people. So firm is their resolve to turn a political victory, and to portray Iraq as a "new Vietnam," that the level of reporting has been lowered to trumpeting death tolls and new atrocities, ignoring progress and prosperity as they are sewn throughout the region. This is where the wonders of the new media can have their greatest effect, but lately even this is waning. Maybe its time for the media, and us as bloggers, to renew our dedication to the cause for which so many have already given their lives. Someone said it better than I ever could, when he asked "How can we not do what is right and needed to preserve this last best hope of man on Earth?" How indeed.

you are in Iraq for the oil
to the previous poster: you provide a thoroughly reasoned and well supported argument. thank you for your insight.
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