George Washington nearly lost the American revolution. The British had better-trained soldiers, more money, more weapons, better transportation, better officers, and a great many American sympathizers happy to supply food and shelter. The American people were deeply divided about the question of independence from Britain.
Everything the British had in abundance, Washington lacked, and desperately needed. Even the weather seemed to conspire against him.
What kept Washington going from setback to setback was honor, and heart. Washington believed in what he was fighting for and he was determined not to let down the people who had put their confidence in his leadership.
I see parallels in Iraq. Islamic extremists believe democracy and freedom are incompatible with Islam. Instead of a Parliament, they see an Iraq ruled by a cabal of imams. There are ordinary Iraqis who agree.
Millions of others want something better and risked their safety by going to the polls in Iraq’s first free election. They have a vision of a free and egalitarian society, one that honors Islam while embracing progress, equality under the law, free markets, education, and a hopeful future.
Those Iraqis with a taste for freedom are being attacked by a murderous insurgency. They have bled for their dream, as has America. Over 3,000 of our young men and women have died to support Iraq’s efforts to build a democracy. 10’s of thousands of Iraqis have been shot, blown up or beheaded by well-financed extremists who are determined to crush that dream.
In the face of so much resistance, when the cost is so high and things are going so badly, it’s tempting to give up. But Iraqis are still fighting to defend their fledgling democracy.
Honor demands that we hang tough. The Iraqis are committed, but they need our support. If we want to defeat Islamic terrorism and its culture of death, we have to sow seeds of freedom, hope, and opportunity in the Middle East. If we can’t do that in Iraq, after so much sweat and blood and sacrifice, it can’t be done anywhere.
Iraq needs us to stand beside her until she can stand on her own. Backing out now would be a terrible betrayal of America’s soldiers, and of the fragile hopes and dreams of the Iraqi people.
But I doubt that is why we are in Iraq. If building democracy and providing freedom and delivering the oppressed were our goals for the planet, then why does Iraq get our full attention and budget and blood, and not places that could really use our help like so many countries in Africa where hundreds of thousands (even millions) are victimized by tyrants, religious fanatics, brutal terrorists, criminal governments, AIDS, hunger, and the list goes on?
I agree with the ideals you focus on and share them, I just don’t think our policy makers do.
I honestly don’t know what to think about Iraq. I figure as long as it is the way it is then try and sort it.
It isn’t just US soldiers who have died – but a lot more of your guys have lost their lives.
It has become a different battle to the one that first started. The old resentments that were under the surface have let loose.
Heart and honour – yes. I think those serving have it.
I certainly agree that there are plenty of other places in the world, most of the African continent for starters, that could use help at least as much as Iraq. Our government’s motives are never pure. Politics is always self-serving, so democracy in Iraq is more important to US foreign policy than in the Sudan, for instance.
So I think we (voters, citizens) need to be the conscience of government, and push it to become engaged in places, like Sudan, where it has no strategic interests but a purely humanitarian interest. And where government is unresponsive, we need to support the fine humanitarian organizations who are providing assistance to the sick and the hungry.