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Iraq is not Vietnam

By Jackson Murphy
web posted November 10, 2003

If the last couple of weeks are any indication it is going to be a very bumpy ride transforming Iraq into the Middle East's first true birthplace of freedom outside of Israel. The truth is that there are many people who are trying to prevent Iraq from becoming free and democratic. There are many more, including the U.N., who are ready to cut and run at the first sign of danger long before the job is finished.

Thankfully the Americans are not so easily swayed. "The United States will complete our work in Iraq," President Bush told his weekly radio listeners. "Leaving Iraq prematurely would only embolden the terrorists and increase the danger to America."

But that doesn't diminish how dangerous and critical this mission is.

"The four simultaneous bombings in Baghdad on October 27 -- the headquarters of the International Red Cross and three police stations -- had classic al-Qaida characteristics," writes Stephen F. Hayes in The Weekly Standard. "The attackers used 1,000 lbs. of plastic explosives and sent decoy vehicles ahead of the trucks carrying the bombs. The terrorists who bombed a housing complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 12, 2003, employed similar tactics. "

And most recently a Chinook transport helicopter was shot down with a surface-to-air missile killing 15 U.S. soldiers and injuring at least 21 more in the most vicious attack since the war began. The situation in Iraq is a perfect storm of wretched evil bridging the gap between various terrorist interests and groups.

"It seems to me that trying to go to the motivation of this attack is relatively easy. We know why they're doing it," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Tony Snow on Fox News Sunday. "There are criminals in that country who will do things for money. There are foreign terrorists in that country, like the Ansar al-Islam, who have come back in from Iran and are trying to kill people. And there are the remnants of the Ba'athist regime. And they want to take that country back, and they're not going to. They're not going to come close to taking that country back."

Rumsfeld continued, "And they are the ones who want to have the kind of a dictatorship that Saddam Hussein had, that is shown on the film clips on this station, of people cutting off fingers, cutting off hands, cutting off heads, throwing them off the tops of building, cutting off tongues. That is what those people want."

That is why they are trying to throw everything they have at the troops to drive them back home. The tactics of the terrorists have not changed. They exist solely to terrorize and encourage a return to the brutal and oppressive rule of nation which could offer a new and safe harbor for their more ambitious actions.

The imposed and media recommended template for viewing Iraq is of course Vietnam. "Hogwash," says The New York Times' Thomas Friedman. "The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge - a murderous band of Saddam Hussein loyalists and Al-Qaida nihilists, who are not killing Americans so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing Americans so they can rule Iraqis."

The anti-war crowd doesn't want Iraq transformed. It is such an inconvenience to them that the vast majority of Iraqi people do want almost exactly what we do. But it looks increasingly likely that even some of the major political leaders in Washington don't either. Four leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for President rejected outright the $87 billion appropriation for the ongoing war. Sure they fall short of wanting to pull out, but they don't have any discernable alternative plan either.

Writing in the New York Post Ralph Peters confirm, "There is only one way in which the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam: Our enemies realize that they can't win militarily. This is a contest of wills much more than a contest of weapons. The terrorists intend to wear us down."

However problematic the notion, this is a battle for the hearts and minds. Not just of the Iraqi people, not just of the Middle East, but of the entire world. The fact that Saddam has been unseated and this coalition of terrorists are working to push back America and freedom emphasizes the point.

It is clear that very few leaders in the region or very few of the hard lining Islamic fundamentalists want to see a free Iraq. That is why we have to prove to the region that we won't tire, falter, or fail.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He a senior writer at Enter Stage Right and the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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