- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 17, 2006

Since September 11, 2001, President Bush and a few others have had a singular and constant grasp of our need to win the new world war that day’s savagery foisted on us. Soon after he pledged: “We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail to win the war on terror.”

Sadly, the nation’s resolve has been inseminated with doubt for the sake of political expediency. Today, if one is to believe the polls, the American people are confused about our role in Iraq, the main theater of that war. Yet the recent assassination of Abu Musab Zarqawi, like the assassination of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of Japan’s early victories in World War II, dampens the enemy’s ability to improvise and should give us new heart to rededicate ourselves to victory.

As clear-visioned and courageous as ever, Mr. Bush took a surprise trip to Baghdad to meet with U.S. troops and the new Iraqi government. He and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki will deploy 75,000 coalition and Iraqi troops to the capital. This can only mean they intend to cut the heart out of the insurgency where it skulks.

This trip recalls Franklin Roosevelt’s arduous and dangerous trip to Tehran during World War II, after which the Allies shifted permanently from defense to offense.

Many Democrats, abetted by their allies in the “drive-by” media, are using the war as a tactic to regain power, openly rooting against the commander in chief and the country he leads in time of war, even disparaging our troops. This is, at best, studied ignorance at work or, at worst, incipient treason.

Mr. Bush’s opponents on the right appear to believe the war in Iraq was always ours and ours alone to win and that force levels would determine victory. Mr. Bush and his national security team, however, believed it was important to decapitate the terror apparatus of Saddam Hussein’s regime quickly and had faith the Iraqi people eventually would embrace their liberty. So a leaner, faster, powerful force was used to take Baghdad in three weeks instead of six months or a year, with the added benefit that we sustained far fewer casualties than a longer campaign would have produced.

By adopting that strategy, we accepted the risk of large disturbance or insurgency, and got it. Mr. Bush’s detractors have fastened on that aspect of his plan to criticize everything about the war. They continually harp on every supposed mistake, large or small, and every explosion and casualty, so the public has no sense of any progress.

But let’s ask Mr. Bush’s critics, both here and overseas, one question: Today, would you rather have the assets and liabilities of the coalition or those of the insurgency? If nothing else, Zarqawi’s death should answer that question.

The Iraqis are deciding for the coalition. Otherwise, Zarqawi wouldn’t have been given up by his own people. The Iraqis have also risked their lives to vote three separate times and in increasing numbers, and they’ve just finished putting together a fully functioning government that they freely elected.

One advantage of not trying to crush the Iraqi people, as we rightly did to the Germans and Japanese in World War II, is that now we see them ready to fight, with our support, to secure the blessings that our own Constitution, also born out of blood, confers on us.

Mr. Bush, like all great leaders of our past, knows a central truth of human nature: The human soul craves freedom and shrivels from its lack. He also knows achieving victory requires bold strategy and tactics and prompt execution.

America’s place in history is unique among great nations and peoples of the past. They all could subscribe to the motto of Britain’s Special Air Services: who dares, wins. When they did win, however, it was usually to dominate.

When the U.S. became a mature superpower during World War II, we deliberately walked away from dominance in favor of liberation. The new century opens with America again staying the cold, cruel, gnarled hand of tyranny. As with Franklin Roosevelt’s dedication and leadership in World War II, the dynamism of the current worldwide struggle against Islamic fascism rests primarily with President Bush and our troops.

This formidable force understands, to a greater depth and degree than the civilian population, what’s at stake: the triumph of tyranny, with all its grinding injustice, poverty and bleakness for centuries to come; or the triumph of liberty, with all its blessings and promises for a better tomorrow.

The Iraqis have already dared for freedom. They started paying the price, in torrents of blood, long before we intervened to overthrow Saddam. The Americans who fight in Iraq and those who support them are united with the Iraqis, who seek to build a new civilization in the violent Middle East so that this beleaguered region can begin to experience the hopes and dreams only freedom can confer. Who dares, wins.



William Goldcamp is a diplomatic historian and a former intelligence analyst. Nancy Goldcamp, his wife, was an analyst and an editor.

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