Iraq: One Year Later

Col. Bill Cowan
Col. Cowan: Iraq's Future is Being Forged As We Speak

Despite any debates, discussions, or disagreements about whether or not we should have moved into Iraq to dislodge Saddam, of one thing all Americans can be immensely proud: the performance of their military. Our young men and women, some of whom were drawn up from the National Guard and reserves at the last moment, have not failed us in their many missions in Iraq and indeed around the globe. At times in the war on terror, our future may become as uncertain as our recent past. Throughout it all, Americans can be grateful that self-sacrifice, devotion to duty, and appreciation of the freedoms they’ve enjoyed will guide them in performance of their difficult duties. God bless each and every one of them!

An Iraq guided and governed by the principles of freedom, liberty, and justice is just around the corner. To be sure, there are still bumps in the road. But the reality is that a coalition of international forces rallied behind the United States and Britain, and helped oust a dictator and brutal regime to which the value of human life was non-existent. The lives lost on each side were unfortunate and regrettable, but as our own country knows from its oft-turbulent past, sacrifices are required to oust the unwilling and return power to the people. Iraq’s future is being forged on a daily basis, and the world will be a better, safer place because of those who sacrificed to make it happen.

Col. Oliver North
Col. North: Spain May Be a Precursor

Now, after the change of government in Madrid and another suicide bombing in Baghdad, others in Washington are focusing their ire on Spain. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said that "they chose to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists." True, but it misses the point. House Majority Leader Tom Delay got a little closer when he observed, "If we follow the new Spanish government and we accept failure in Iraq and permit victory by the terrorists, there will be no counting the number of people around the world who will suffer the consequences." Also true – but Spain may be a precursor of what we are facing not just in the anti-terrorist alliance – but in our own country as well.

Those who carried out the Madrid attacks – whether ETA terrorists, Islamic Jihadists, or an unanticipated coalition of the two – accurately assessed that they could affect the outcome of a democratic election by perpetrating a heinous act. That they succeeded in doing so ought to be the most important lesson derived from the events of the last ten days. Rather than throwing stones at the people of Spain for voting as they did last Sunday, official Washington ought to apply the lesson to another democratic election that is just around the corner – ours.

Laurie Mylroie
Laurie Mylroie: Nothing is Guaranteed

The situation in Iraq is neither as good as the administration expected when it began the war, nor as bad as critics anticipated.  The administration relied on the CIA’s assessment that the U.S. could lop off the top of the regime and the bureaucracies would continue to function.  Hence, there was no need for extensive post-war planning.  

In the year since, major progress has been made in repairing the country’s infrastructure and establishing new institutions of government.  Iraq will likely turn out a success story, but that is not yet guaranteed, as the conflict is not really over.

Col. David Hunt
Col. Hunt: We Are at War

As we watch the aftermath of the Lebanon Hotel explosion in Baghdad, the massive loss of life in Madrid and the fall of a government directly related to that attack, analysis is everywhere. How about this for analysis: WE ARE AT WAR. Innocents are targeted, governments are targeted, and of course, religions are targeted. We must grieve, feel for the families that have lost loved ones, and pause and pray to whichever God we believe in.

Next, we must turn and yell at the TV and say, “We are not running away. We are staying in this fight!” We must go to the banks that are continuing to allow their vaults to be used by terrorists and close them down. And we must exact a price from countries that are perpetuating the conflict.

It is not enough to simply say we are not going to leave Iraq. The truth is always better, and we must have it. The war against terror will have horrible days. After 9/11 we must be ready to absorb this pain, move through it and on to those responsible.

In this political season with acrimony running out of every TV and radio, we can easily forget that Senator Kerry did not drive that bomb truck into the hotel in Baghdad, and that President Bush was not the one who paid children to drop backpacks full of explosives along a train track in Madrid last week – terrorists did. And it is the terrorists who must pay, in as quickly and violently a way as we, the good guys, can devise.