12/20/06 — Stand firm now: Remember the mission should be call along with new caution

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Stand firm now: Remember the mission should be call along with new caution

Most of what President George W. Bush said this morning in his end-of-year press conference was right on — and not all that new.

Anyone who has been following the war in Iraq knows that the difference between a quick exit and a protracted battle has been the insurgents and sectarian violence that are troubling the country and slowing Iraq’s ability to start its future.

Neither probably should have surprised anyone who was involved in the Iraq war planning. Of course, enemies of the United States would want to keep Iraq and its people stirred up. The best way to win the war is to suggest that the United States is selfish, weak-willed and unable to get the job done.

There is no question that before any progress can be made in Iraq, something has to be done about the safety of its residents — and those who are there to protect them.

More troops might be the answer. A tougher stand against allies who say one thing and then don’t stop money funneled to terrorists is another.

But if we are going to send more troops to Iraq without a firm commitment to getting this job done once and for all, we might as well not bother.

Now is the time for standing firm and showing our enemies and our allies that we mean business — and that we intend to give Iraq the tools it needs to stand on its own.

The world really is watching — to see if this is going to be a repeat of the 1990s when we engaged an enemy and then, after emerging victorious, left the populace to handle the fallout. We can’t afford another decision like that — or the damage it leaves behind.

We got into Iraq in the first place to answer a threat of a kind we have never seen before. This was no war across an ocean. It was a blow at the heart of our nation — on our own homeground.

We knew this was a war we couldn’t fight with a wait and see approach. That’s how we missed the signs that there would be a Sept. 11.

So, we acted. We hunted terrorists and struck down a leader with ties to terror, a reputation for mental illness and cruelty to his own people and a potential to become the kind of despot who could use power with deadly results.

No war is easy. Any student of history can tell you that. But sometimes you are faced with a dilemma if you are a nation of power and influence. How long do you wait to do something about a potential threat?

It is time to rethink our strategy in Iraq, but as we consider changes, one phrase should remain as important in those considerations as any other — remember the mission and Sept. 11.

Published in Editorials on December 20, 2006 11:57 AM