Alexander's Column

Operation Iraqi Freedom — the year in review

Mark Alexander · Apr. 30, 2004

On May 1, 2003, all hands on deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln cheered their Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush, as he declared, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed, and now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”

In the year since the cessation of major hostilities, America’s resolve in our war against Jihadistan has been under relentless assault – not so much by the Jihadis themselves, but by the political ambitions of Demo-presidential contenders and their Leftmedia minions.

Though our national resolve has not been undermined (yet), the ascension of presumed Demo-nominee John Kerry could change all that. Kerry is shamelessly calling into question the wartime leadership of President Bush, protesting our mission in Iraq with a fervor akin to that with which he protested our mission in Vietnam three decades ago. The danger, of course, is that his protests today have emboldened Iraqi insurgents in places like Fallujah and Najaf – just as his protests more than 30 years ago emboldened the Viet Cong in places like Dong Ap Bia.

The cost of Kerry’s political folly is tallied not only in Demo-campaign donations, but in flag-draped caskets returning from the Iraqi and Afghan warfronts with Jihadistan – much as the costs of his protests in the 1970s were tallied in flag-draped caskets returning from the Vietnamese warfront with Communism.

In the 15 months since the coalition’s invasion of Iraq, 736 American service personnel have been killed. But more than a fourth of those troops have been killed in just the last two months – a period coinciding with the end of the Democrat presidential primary. What, you ask, is our point? Merely that this is precisely the moment when John Kerry’s dissenting views on our mission in Iraq became the central focus of his political campaign – as broadcast around the world.

Last week, this column corrected Mr. Kerry’s criticism of President Bush’s doctrine of preemption and the administration’s justification for sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. (See “John Kerry – Jihadistan’s great white hope…” https://patriotpost.us/alexander/2004/04/23/john-kerry-jihadistans-great-white-hope/). Today, on this first anniversary of the liberation of the Iraqi people from the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein, President Bush’s words from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln last year are every bit as relevant, and they serve as adequate rebuttal to John Kerry’s criticism of our ongoing mission in Iraq. Indeed, they are testimony to this Commander-in-Chief’s clarity of doctrine and mission as our military forces endeavor to keep the warfront on Jihadistan’s turf rather than our own.

On deck, President Bush said: “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001, that terrible morning when 19 evil men – the shock troops of a hateful ideology – gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. … By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation’s resolve and force our retreat from the world. They have failed.” Of course, one wouldn’t know it from the incessant nay-saying of the Kerry crowd – those who would pull the plug on the doctrine of preemption and call for a retreat.

The President continued: “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We’ve removed an ally of al-Qa'ida and cut off a source of terrorist funding, and this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. … Our war against terror is proceeding according to principles that I have made clear to all: Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country and a target of American justice. Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes. Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world – and will be confronted.”

This, however, does not mean that the Jihadis failed to obtain WMD in the year we spent haggling with Demos and the UN about the particulars of diplomatic protocol when dealing with rogue regimes with WMD. It has been, and remains, the position of The Federalist’s analytical team that most of Saddam’s biological and chemical WMD remain concealed in Iraq, while most components of his nuclear program were smuggled into Syria and/or Iran. For certain, Saddam’s WMD will, eventually, emerge – preferably before exposure or detonation in a U.S. urban center.

Of course, Kerry’s oft-repeated mantra is that the administration “misled” [read: “lied to”] the nation about the WMD threat in Iraq. But Iraq is a sandbox the size of California – finding Saddam’s WMD is tantamount to finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack.” (Check out something else Saddam buried in the sand – https://patriotpost.us/reference/you-can-hide-a-lot-in-the-desert/)

His mantra not withstanding, Kerry knows that al-Qa'ida will target the U.S. just prior to the 02 November presidential election (as they just did in Spain) – and if they use WMD, that would tend to undermine the Demo-theme that there “are no WMD.” After the recent discovery of an al-Qa'ida plot to use chemical WMD against King Abdullah II in Jordan, and now that more evidence of Saddam’s chemical stockpiles has been discovered near Fallujah, Kerry is quickly changing his tune, saying this week: “It appears, as they peel away the weapons of mass destruction issue – we may yet find them. Look, I want to make it clear. Who knows if a month from now, three months from now, you find some weapons? You may.” (The “F” must stand for “Flip-flop.”)

Regarding his doctrine of preemption, President Bush told Sailors and Marines on the USS Lincoln: “Al-Qa'ida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations. … The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And we will continue to hunt down the enemy before he can strike.”

In closing, President Bush said, “Every name, every life is a loss to our military, to our nation, and to the loved ones who grieve. There’s no homecoming for these families. Yet we pray, in God’s time, their reunion will come. … All of you … in our military – have taken up the highest calling of history. You’re defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope – a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘To the captives, come out, – and to those in darkness, be free.’ … I am proud to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.”

Unfortunately, these stirring remarks are lost on John Kerry and company. Despite the liberation of the Iraqi people and dramatic improvements in their standard of living – not to mention the success of our primary mission to remove Saddam as a WMD source for Jihadis – Kerry continues to issue his caustic “anti-war” rhetoric, effectively lending “aid and comfort” to the enemy. Were Kerry truly of presidential caliber, he would cease and desist, instead rising to the defense of our nation and our national interests as an executive should. He would confine his rhetoric to domestic social and economic policy matters on which the Left and Right disagree. He would realize that using war as political fodder is not only reckless – indeed, he would realize that it is treasonous as defined in Article III Section 3 of the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

Quote of the week…

“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is useful to recount why we have fought. … Americans do not come easily to war, but neither do Americans take freedom lightly. But when freedom and self-government have taken root in Iraq, and that country becomes a force for good in the Middle East, the rightness of those efforts will be just as clear as it is today in Korea, Germany, Japan and Italy. … Today, as we think about the tens of thousands of United States soldiers in Iraq – and in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world fighting the global war on terrorism – we should say to all of them: ‘You join a long line of generations of Americans who have fought freedom’s fight. Thank you’.” –Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

On cross-examination…

“[D]rawing up ‘secret war plans’ for a possible attack on Iraq wasn’t irrational. The low-level war against Saddam was 12 years old, with no end in sight. American and British pilots were getting shot at, sanctions weren’t working, and Bush was getting warnings that Saddam had all those terrible weapons and would use them against America. Bush would have been a fool not to draw up plans. Gee, wait till the critics find out that FDR, without ever informing the media, was plotting to fight Japan and Germany before Pearl Harbor.” –John Leo

Open query…

“Is it just me, or does this weaponry arriving [to Jordan] via Syria – explosives, detonators and poison gas – sound like those fabled weapons of mass destruction? …Former Iraq Survey Group chief David Kay named Syria as a likely repository for Iraq’s missing WMD. ‘We know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD programs,’ Kay told the London Telegraph in January. I wonder: Did these al-Qa'ida chemical bombs come from Syrian ‘components’ of Iraq’s WMD programs?” –Diana West