Time for debate is over; let's support our troops in Iraq

Published 12:05 pm Wednesday, April 2, 2003

By By JO BONNER - U.S. Representative for District 1
Twelve years after the United States and other coalition forces entered the Kingdom of Kuwait to expel the invading military of Iraq, we once again find ourselves engaged in a struggle against Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi government certainly cannot argue that they didn't see this coming. Twelve years of resolutions and inspections and the promise of "serious consequences" in the event of noncompliance with post-Gulf War regulations surely must have sunk in at some point.
It reminds me of a child who gets hold of a book of matches: If you keep playing with them, you're ultimately going to get burned.
Saddam Hussein has now struck one too many matches.
The Iraqi government and information ministry have gone out of their way on numerous occasions in recent days to label the United States as a "renegade, terrorist state."
It's ironic that the nation guilty of such oppression and atrocities over the years is the one doing the labeling.
A dictator's life
Many years ago, a child was born into a small, relatively lower class family. The father and mother both died before the young man reached his mid-20s.
Feeling no sense of direction in his life, he joined the military in an attempt to make a name for himself. His career was somewhat undistinguished, although he did participate for several years in a war and was awarded a medal for heroism.
At the end of the conflict, and following an injury received on the battlefield, this young man became embittered and questioned the direction his government was taking and the quality of its leadership. He joined a small, recently-formed political party and within a few years rose to lead its growing numbers.
Ultimately, he led an unsuccessful revolt against the government and was imprisoned for a short time. Following his release, he again took charge of his party and within 10 years had been appointed prime minister of his country. Upon the death of the president, he assumed total control for himself.
His time in power was marked by a seemingly endless series of cold-blooded and often horrific events.
He murdered political opponents and their families without hesitation. He invaded and waged war against neighboring countries which were too small or too ill-equipped to defend themselves. He used poison gas on countless men, women and children, including those within his own country.
Now, if you have read these few paragraphs and have guessed that I am talking about Saddam Hussein, you are right.
You were also correct if you said Adolf Hitler.
There's a lesson to be found in this
The philosopher Friedrich Hegel once said, "What experience and history teach is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it."
Throughout human existence, we have witnessed and endured the atrocities committed by the Hitlers and Husseins of the world. In each instance, the victors claim to have learned from their mistakes and vow that history will not be allowed to repeat itself.
Unfortunately, it continues to do just that. Several centuries of diplomacy, patience and appeasement have done nothing more than allow despots to buy time for themselves. Had certain members of the United Nations Security Council been allowed to proceed with their plans, Hussein would remain in power for many more years.
As I have previously written in this column, I don't know a single person that was hoping war would be the ultimate outcome of the Iraqi situation. No one including the president wanted to send our young men and women into harm's way.
There are many people who believe this war is wrong and that we should not be in Iraq. However, as many of us have seen reported on the news and in print in recent days, an overwhelming majority of Americans - over 7 in 10 - feel that the days of talk were indeed over and that we and our allies are doing exactly what is necessary to ensure Iraqi compliance.
The president gave diplomacy much more of a chance than quite honestly was necessary. Following 12 years of resolutions and inspections, the administration allowed ample time for the UN to resolve this matter and ensure that all prohibited weapons and material were removed.
Regardless of whether we as Americans agree or disagree with our president, the time for debate is past. We now need to rally behind our commander-in-chief and our troops and give them all the support they need.
We can always offer up our prayers: prayers for a quick end to the conflict and the restoration of peace to that region; prayers for those in our armed forces who have lost their lives; prayers for those who continue the fight; prayers for the millions of Iraqi citizens who have lived under this oppression and want to experience true freedom; and prayers for the families and loved ones of all our troops.
Please call if we can be of service. Until next week, may God continue to bless all of us and this great nation.