"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." —Patrick Henry
Republics win wars. Thus is the verdict of history, and this truth has not been lost on America's Armed Forces. In the current war against Islamist terrorism, they have been called upon to defend our democratic republic and to promote its virtues in an ideological struggle against those who would destroy it. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "Although a republican government is slow to move, yet when once in motion, its momentum becomes irresistible." Jefferson spoke truly, as evidenced in the actions of our nation's military in the years following the deliberate attack on our countrymen on September 11, 2001. Since that time, U.S. forces have been called upon to wage war against Islamist terrorism in every corner of the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, sub-Saharan Africa and other places around the world.
The Bush Doctrine of preemptive action, possibly the most singularly significant addition to American foreign policy since the Truman Doctrine of the Cold War, has resulted in a deployment of the U.S. Armed Forces unparalleled in some 40 years as our nation combats the threat of global terrorism. This global deployment is preemptive and defensive, not the result of imperialistic ambitions. For instance, the GDP of Iraq is $22 billion, while U.S. costs in the liberation of Iraq have already soared above $200 billion. Such is the price of liberty, not oil.
Regrettably, the conflict with Iraq could not be resolved diplomatically and our war with Islamist militants cannot be won by responding to terrorist aggression after the fact -- the enemy can only be defeated in decisive preemptive strikes. America's Armed Forces echo the words of John Paul Jones: "An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it."
Diplomacy without the threat of force is a paper tiger, and the American military bolsters the United States' ability (to flip-flop von Clausewitz's famous dictum) to wage war by diplomatic means. The fruits of the Bush Doctrine and its credible threat of force can already be seen: Nascent democratic reform in Saudi Arabia, Libya opening its doors to international weapons inspectors, and North Korea backing away from its blackmail rhetoric and insistence on a unilateral agreement with the U.S., to name but a few.
In our global war against Islamist terrorism, rogue regimes, and weapons of mass destruction, the massive warfront in Iraq has taken center stage. Though derided by many as a "quagmire" and "the next Vietnam," American and coalition successes in the liberation of Iraq speak to the contrary. Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1... The first battalion of the new Iraqi Army has graduated and is on active duty. ...Over 60,000 Iraqis now provide security to their fellow citizens. ...Nearly all of Iraq's 400 courts are functioning. ...The Iraqi judiciary is fully independent. ...The central bank is fully independent. ...As of October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts -- exceeding the prewar average. ...All 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools. ...Teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries. ...All 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open. ...The Coalition has helped administer over 22 million vaccinations to Iraq's children. ...A Coalition program has cleared over 14,000 kilometers of Iraq's 27,000 kilometers of weed-choked canals which now irrigate tens of thousands of farms. This project has created jobs for more than 100,000 Iraqi men and women. ...Iraq has one of the world's most growth-oriented investment and banking laws. ...Iraq has a single, unified currency for the first time in 15 years. ...There are more than 170 newspapers. ...A nation that had not one single element -- legislative, judicial or executive -- of a representative government, now does. ...In Baghdad alone residents have selected 88 advisory councils. Baghdad's first democratic transfer of power in 35 years happened when the city council elected its new chairman. ...25 ministers, selected by the most representative governing body in Iraq's history, run the day-to-day business of government. ...The Iraqi government regularly participates in international events. Since July the Iraqi government has been represented in over two dozen international meetings, including those of the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, the World Bank and IMF and, today, the Islamist Conference Summit. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today announced that it is reopening over 30 Iraqi embassies around the world. ...The Coalition has completed over 13,000 reconstruction projects, large and small, as part of a strategic plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. ...Children and political opponents aren't imprisoned, tortured, executed, maimed, or are forced to watch their families die for disagreeing with Saddam or the government. ...Saddam is gone. ...Iraq is free.
The impact of Iraq's liberation is already being felt elsewhere in the region: The Saudis will hold municipal elections. ...Qatar is reforming education to give more choices to parents. ...Jordan is accelerating market economic reforms. ...The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for the first time to an Iranian -- a Muslim woman who speaks out with courage for human rights, for democracy and for peace.
The war against terror is a truly global war, and America's Armed Forces have demonstrated that they can win both that war and the peace.
But as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently noted, "As we appreciate the achievement of the men and women in uniform, it's important not to lose sight of a fundamental fact; namely, that the global war on terror continues. The capture of Saddam Hussein is important, but the war on terror is not about one man and it is not about one country. ... Many of those are people who are serving in our armed forces were far from home during Christmas, and certainly they and their families are in our thoughts and prayers."
When we examine the events of the world today, the words of George Washington's First Inaugural Address ring strangely true: "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." And now the preservation of that sacred fire is passed on to Iraqis, Afghanis, and others, thanks to our Armed Forces' faithful defense of the Republic.
America's Armed Forces have had no small part in these events, and for this we offer our humble gratitude.
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