A Free Iraq: Worth the Price
Recent headlines paint a gloomy picture of the coalition effort in
Iraq. "Anarchy across Iraq" screams London's Evening Standard.
"U.S. Forces Take Heavy Losses as Violence Spreads across Iraq"
trumpets The Washington Post. "Bush Presidency Could Be Ultimate
Casualty of War" proclaims The Los Angeles Times. "Will Iraq Become
Bush's Vietnam?" asks the Times of India.
No doubt about it: America is paying a price for freeing Iraq. More
than 600 Americans have paid the ultimate price. My generation has
paid the lion's share. We're doing the heavy lifting -- enduring
hardships, leaving loved ones behind and risking our lives.
All of which makes it difficult to watch recent events give fresh
ammunition to war critics such as Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has called
Iraq "Bush's Vietnam." Sen. John Kerry labels Iraq a "mess" and
claims that it's "one of the greatest failures of judgment" he's
seen in his public life.
When things appear to be going wrong, it's only natural to revisit
basic questions such as "Are we doing the right thing?" or "Is it
worth it?" Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix recently
gave his answer to these questions: "The war has liberated the
Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been too great."
But has Blix fully and accurately weighed the benefits of
Does he value freedom as highly as, say, the Iraqi people who have
been freed from decades of tyranny and oppression? No longer do
Iraqis have to fear Saddam Hussein's torture chambers and rape
rooms. They can sleep in peace knowing they won't be added to the
300,000 people buried in mass graves.
No, life still isn't easy for the Iraqi people. They face new
challenges. Yet a recent poll commissioned by ABC and the BBC
showed 57 percent of Iraqis believed life is better now than it was
under Saddam. More than 70 percent said they expect things to be
better in a year's time.
Even if you discount the value of freeing an oppressed people from
Hussein's vicious grip, a successful democracy in Iraq will pay
huge dividends to the free world for generations. At best, Iraq
would become a beacon of liberty to the rest of the Middle East. At
the very least, we can look forward to having a faithful ally in
the midst of a volatile region.
An unstable Iraq would spell disaster in the world for generations.
All the sacrifice and blood spilt by members of my generation would
be for naught. Make no mistake about it: A chaotic Iraq would be a
victory for terrorists. It would be a showcase not of liberty, but
of failure. Civil war, anarchy, a breeding ground for terrorists
and a return to a radical Islamic dictatorship are just a few
If we retreat, the free world will be shackled with the cost of
cowardice. Terrorists don't respect diplomacy or weakness. It is
the American retreat from Somalia that created the image of a
"paper tiger" to terrorists worldwide. Did terrorism halt in Spain
after they announced a withdrawal from Iraq? No, the terrorists
responded by planting more bombs.
The youth of America holds a large stake in the outcome. Not only
are we sacrificing for the Iraqi liberation; we're going to be left
with the remnants of the struggle.
The settlement of World War I led to World War II. The end of
World War II brought the agreement that strengthened the Soviet
Union leading to the Cold War. The first Gulf War left Iraqi's
liberation for our generation. We must learn from history --
appeasement leads to future conflict.
Fighting terrorism and oppression is a proud task for my
generation. The coalition should, as President Bush has said, "stay
the course" and successfully establish a democratic Iraq. The cost
may be high, but it's worth it.
Jason Doré, an intern at The Heritage Foundation
(heritage.org), will be attending law school at Louisiana State
University in the fall. He is a native of Lafayette, La.
Distributed nationally on the Knight-Ridder Tribune – KRT Campus youth wire.