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And now it begins...

By Henry Lamb
web posted July 5, 2004

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, left, US administrator Paul Bremer, center, and Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer make their farewells, Monday June 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, after a ceremony marking the transfer of full governmental authority to the Iraqi interim government
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, left, US administrator Paul Bremer, center, and Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer make their farewells, Monday June 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, after a ceremony marking the transfer of full governmental authority to the Iraqi interim government

Neither the outcome, nor the significance of last week's events in Iraq will be fully known or appreciated for a generation. One thing is certain: for the first time in recent history, there is a real possibility of reversing the rise of terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists.

For the first time in recent history, someone has stood up and said "enough is enough; we're coming after you." Until now, the world's response to terrorism has been either to cut and run, or an ineffectual blast from a cruise missile.

When Iran took American hostages during the Carter years, the U.S. response was to crash helicopters in a failed rescue effort. When 241 U.S. Marines were slaughtered in a Lebanon bomb blast during the Reagan years, the U.S. pulled out. When two Blackhawks were shot down, and U.S. soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu during the Clinton years, the U.S. cut and ran. When the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed, the U.S. launched cruise missiles on an aspirin factory."

For two decades, the terrorists saw that the most powerful nation on earth was no match for their barbaric tactics.

Then came September 11.

George Bush said "we're coming after you! And anyone else who supports the terrorists." And he did.

In spite of incredible criticism from the U.N., the European Union, the world's socialists, and from political opponents, he persisted, chasing the Taliban to mountain caves, and Hussein to his rat hole.

Realizing that the war against terrorism cannot be won on the battlefield, the Bush war plan included the creation of representative government in the nations whose former dictators harbored the terrorists. The transfer of sovereignty to the new interim government in Iraq on June 28, is a monumental milestone toward this goal.

Getting to this point is an achievement that cannot be fully appreciated for years to come. The President had to navigate not only the daily terror attacks in Iraq, but through muddy diplomatic waters churned by the international community, the media, and the nasty politics of an election year.

After the military victory in Iraq, which the U.N. refused to support, the U.N. demanded control over the reconstruction effort. Bush said "no." France, Germany, and Russia, who loudly opposed the military action and refused to support the reconstruction effort, demanded to participate in U.S.- funded reconstruction contracts. Bush said "no."

Then Bush startled his critics by inviting the U.N. to send Lakhdar Brahimi to advise the governing council, but would not allow Brahimi to dictate how the government would be formed. Brahimi's advice was heard by the council, and rejected, as the governing council began to exercise its own power.

Bush startled his critics again, by obtaining unanimous approval from the U.N. Security Council for the new interim government shaped by the Iraqis themselves, not by the U.N.

Then, while meeting with the heads of state of the NATO nations, and winning their commitment to help train the new Iraqi security forces, full sovereignty was transferred to the new Iraqi government, and Paul Bremmer left the country. Bush has succeeded in bringing the international community to the war against terrorism on his terms, not the terms dictated by the U.N., France, Germany, Russia, the world's socialists, or his Democrat challenger.

These events merely provide the opportunity for a new beginning for the second phase of the war against terrorism. Planting the seeds of freedom in a culture that has known only generations of tyranny is a sobering challenge. The terrorists will continue their heinous efforts to thwart the American will. The U.N., France, Germany, and others will continue to try to gain control for their own interests. The world's socialists will continue their anti-American campaign, and the Democrats will surely continue to manufacture excuses to bash the President.

It will take years of steadfast determination to nurture the seed of freedom planted this week in Iraq, and the fledgling government in Afghanistan. America cannot waver in its support and leadership. If the world is to be freed from the tyranny of terror, the American people must will it so, through their support of courageous leaders who mean it when they say "enough is enough!"

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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