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.