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Dan's Thoughts on Operation Iraqi Freedom
"We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all. If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means - sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military - and we will prevail."
As I write this, it's April 14th, 2003. It's 25 days after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and it's the day the U.S. military commanders declared the combat phase completed. In a military sense, the war is over, and we have prevailed.
I mourn with the families and friends of those who were lost protecting us, and with the families and friends of Iraqis who were forced to die fighting against their will, yet I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for how well things went for all involved. I believe God protected the world from many things that could have happened.
I rejoice that the naysayers turned out to be wrong. The coalition was immensely successful, taking Baghdad three weeks after entering Iraq. We have cleared mines, opened ports, put out fires, provided medical care, and started restoring electricity and water service. Having won the war, we're already working with the Iraqis to win the peace.
I'm convinced the U.S. did the right thing. We could debate the process leading up to it, and the timing, but it was the right thing to do. Whether it should have been done a month later, or six months later, or six months before, or six years before, it was still the right thing.
We expect our leaders to assure our national security, and in their judgement, Iraq needed to be disarmed for our safety. The U.S. went to the UN, and the UN gave Iraq a last opportunity to eliminate the threat. Saddam's intransigence made military force the only way to accomplish it. Thankfully for the Iraqi people, the downfall of the Saddam dictatorship will serve their interests as well as ours.
"If we have to act, we will act to restrain the violent, and defend the cause of peace."
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it."
We are already seeing proof of the truth of U.S. assertions and the falsehood of Iraqi claims. We've uncovered evidence of chemical and biological weapons development, and evidence of ties to terrorist groups, and more is coming to light every day. I'm encouraged to see that our intelligence seems to have come to the correct conclusions.
I'm thankful to be part of a country that values peace and freedom, and has the fortitude to stand up for them. Those who think the U.S. did this for conquest, for occupation, for oil, haven't paid attention to our history. Look at a few examples of our track record: we defeated the Nazi menace, helped rebuild West Germany, and gave it back to the Germans. We defeated Japan--who had attacked us directly in Dec 1941--helped rebuild it, and gave it back to the Japanese. After freeing Kuwait, we gave it back to the Kuwaitis. We are still helping rebuild Afghanistan, and have given it back to the Afghans. There's a trend here, and I think the trend will continue.
"We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in."
I was blessed to see that many of our troops were praying, worshipping, being baptized (even in the desert!), and trusting their mission and their lives to their Lord Jesus Christ. I'm convinced much of our success was due to the faith and trust in God that so many in the U.S. military have.
I've prayed a lot, too, the last several months--for our troops, for their families, for our leaders, for the Iraqis. I've prayed the Lord Jesus Christ would use this situation to bring many people to a saving faith in Him. I've prayed for Saddam, because Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies, and He saves anyone who turns to Him. (If you prayed, too, thank you.) The one thing I couldn't bring myself to pray, though, was that I wouldn't deploy--after all, if 250,000 of my comrades in arms had to leave home and family for this, who was I to stay home? My combat gear has been packed for months, and I've been ready to go whenever I'm called.
This time, though, I did not have the honor of serving directly. I have the deepest respect and gratitude for those who did, and have been praying ceaselessly for them. The whole world has seen again the character of the American (and British) Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine. I've been blessed to see the coalition forces acting honorably, compassionately, and respectfully, and selflessly putting themselves at risk to minimize harm to the Iraqi people. Contrast that with the brutality, deceitfulness, selfishness, and cowardice of the regime and its supporters, who terrorized a country, stole its resources, and literally hid behind helpless women and children. There is no moral equivalence between us and them--we were a force for good in Iraq, and I am honored to be part of the U.S. military at this time in our history.
Perhaps the real "shock and awe" is that we did--and are doing--exactly what we said we were going to do, and are accomplishing such honorable goals so quickly and so well.
"People may forget; some countries in Europe may also forget. But we, the Albanians, do not forget. We all should visit Normandy. We should all pay homage to those brave Americans who stormed ashore at Omaha Beach and gave their lives for the freedom of others. The wonder of it all is that the Americans are willing to do it again."
"The United States is showing to the world, to its friends and foes, that it will pay a high price to make the world better. We will put it all on the line. This country is, still, the place that will take responsibility when no one else will. "
Let Freedom Ring.