01/10/07 — With courage: As leaders make their cases, Americans have to listen well

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With courage: As leaders make their cases, Americans have to listen well

Tonight, Americans will hear President George W. Bush’s proposals for the next moves for Iraq. The early previews are predicting that he will talk about adding more than 20,000 troops as well as a few strategies for turning management of security in Iraq over to the Iraqis sometime later this year.

And before he even speaks, battle lines have been drawn, with many Democrats — and some Republicans — already weighing in on why the president’s plan is really a bad idea.

After the president’s address to the nation tonight, there will be the usual talking head discussions — and more rhetoric from each party about what the next step should be in this war to end terrorism.

And we, the people, will probably be left with more questions than answers.

As you listen tonight, remember that no one wants American lives to be wasted on a war we cannot win. We have already been there and done that.

But what we also do not want to do is waste the work that has gone into getting us this far — or abandon a nation that is struggling to move toward freedom.

As bad as many feel our reputation is around the world because of the war, we would lose much more face if we cut and run when the going gets tough.

When many people speak of the war in Iraq, they don’t put it into context. They do not talk about terrorism or the rise of the militant Islamic factions. They seem to forget that extremists rise to power and wreak havoc when no one pays attention.

And many do not seem to remember that 3,000 people died in a couple terrifying moments on Sept. 11, 2001.

So, we must listen to the president’s address tonight with courage and our heads, not our hearts. Sure, we want our soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors home. We do not want to have to tell another mother her child is not coming home.

But we also have an obligation to think of the bigger picture as well — and what will happen if and when we leave Iraq.

The November election mandate was not about pulling out of Iraq — at least for many of those who cast their ballots. It was about coming up with a real plan that will keep this nation safe and bring home our troops as soon as possible.

It is easy to cheer for retreat. It takes a lot more courage to look to the future and what we need to do to protect generations to come — just as our forefathers did when they were faced with a challenge to defend the world. Tonight is our first step in deciding how we will respond to our calling. Will we be of the same caliber?

Published in Editorials on January 10, 2007 11:12 AM