Saturday, March 18, 2006

Home and away

I've been helping keep the world safe for democracy as an Air Force JAG reservist the past week, "flying a desk" and reviewing claims against the Government and analyzing privacy issues relating to release of drug abuse information.

Yesterday the base legal office had a luncheon to honor a paralegal who's going "green" (St. Patrick's Day was a good day to do it): he's leaving the Air Force for the Army to become a Green Beret. Although I've enjoyed serving in the Air Force, I'm grateful there are such men.

With the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq approaching, I've been thinking about justification for the war. The risk of Iraq providing terrorists with WMD was certainly one expressed reason for going to war. But the primary objective was embodied in the name "Operation Iraqi Freedom", i.e., creating a free Iraqi state.

Critics of the war are fixed on the past and the failure to find WMD. But they seem to ignore the broader mission. And with eyes to the rear they ignore our past.

It took 13 years to get from the Declaration to the Constitution. And a civil war nearly destroyed our union. I'm not a student of history, but I understand our revolutionary war was the very near thing. I can picture soldiers tattered and cold at Valley Forge, and Washington petitioning the Continental Congress for supplies.

The question then and now is whether it was worth it. Was it worth it for America to be free? Is it worth it for Iraq to be free?

Is freedom worth fighting and dying for?

It is a noble ideal, one of the noblest on earth.

Stable democracies do not support terrorists and do not pose a threat to their neighbors. Freedom is a threat to dictators and tyrants.

Whether we want to recognize it, we are at war. We didn't start it. It began before 9/11. It is at our doorsteps. When a dozen or so men can kill thousands in New York and Washington, D.C., there is no "over there" anymore. It is a world war, but it is a different war.

As a result of 9/11 and the recent cartoon protests, when someone says they want to kill us, we should take them seriously.

Currently Iraq is physically and symbolically the central front in the war. There is a lot at stake in Iraq. A free Iraq in the Middle East could change everything. Our enemies understand this and are willing to give their lives to prevent it.

Defeat is not an option. If we do not defeat the enemies of freedom in Iraq, where will we make our stand?

God bless and keep those men and women who understand this, who "more than selves their country love", and who are willing to fight and destroy the enemies of freedom in this world.


Blogger Garry Wilmore said...

Thank you for this bit of perspective. As you know, I have deeply mixed feelings about the Iraq invasion, which I have yet to sort out in my own mind. At the same time, however, I recognize that the rise of Al-Qaeda and other groups sympathetic to it has, in a fundamental way, changed the rules of the game. And moreover, what happened to my Iranian friends just today makes me appreciate our freedoms and way of life just that much more.

3:38 PM  

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