Skip to comments.The Truth About Iraq (by Rep. Blackburn)
Posted on 11/12/2003 8:38:17 AM PST by Coop
It is impossible to prepare for a trip to Iraq. The heat, the sight of bombed buildings, the sand that covers everything, the smells, and the eyes of a people who are just beginning to experience freedom for the first time are overwhelming to the senses. It is the Iraqi people as both individuals and as a nation that I will remember the most.
At a Baghdad police station I shook hands with each of the 25 Iraqi women who composed the first graduating class of female police officers in the history of Iraq. This was not only a first for Iraq, it was also the first job any of these women had ever had. I will never forget the way they ran their fingers across the lettering on my business card. I was their new friend from the free world.
Iraq is taking baby steps toward freedom and they will need America to serve as a guide. Our nation so young in history will help an ancient land be free. This is a truly wonderful thing. We know that free capitalist nations do not attack one another. In Iraq our military efforts and our humanitarian work contribute to a better and safer world for all Americans.
Adults in Iraq have really never known life without Saddam Hussein. They watched as family, friends, and neighbors disappeared over the years to Saddam's torture chambers. Fortunately, the very small children retain their innocence. In Mosul, we spent time at a women's center where I learned that women in Iraq comprise 65 percent of the population, with a 70 percent illiteracy rate. I remember one little girl in particular who watched as we prepared for a photo at a women's center. I motioned the child over to us and put her in the photo with us. As she plunked herself down on my knee and pulled my arms around her I choked back tears and held her tight. This girl will grow up in freedom because of America. Her memories won't include Saddam Hussein, but instead how the American members of the 101st Airborne brought her freedom.
In Baghdad, days before the bombing, I spent time at the Al Rashid hotel and at a city hospital. The message from the hotel staff and the Iraqi officials to us as members of Congress and ambassadors from the free world was a simple -- don't leave us now. The people who lined the streets as we passed to wave and cheer the Americans sent the same message -- we are thankful and we will not forget.
Our men and women in uniform went to Iraq to defeat terrorism so that we might live without the fear of another day like September 11th when more than 3,000 Americans were murdered on our own soil. Our soldiers are so young and brave, and so confident this mission will change the world for the better. America's troops went to Iraq to change the Iraqi people, but as I talked with them about their lives, their hopes and dreams, it was clear that Iraq has changed them as well. America's veterans will understand this the most, for they too risked their lives to free nations and protect America. They too were changed by their experiences.
Everyday we are closing the circle and tightening the noose--literally and figuratively-- around the remnant of Saddam's regime and the terrorists. Each day that we destroy 100 tons of ammunitions and weapons, stabilize more villages, and train additional Iraqi security forces is a day closer to a free and democratic nation. We have already trained more than 50,000 Iraqis to protect their nation against the terrorist insurgents seeking to return the nation to Saddam Hussein. The new Iraqi army has trained one battalion and will have another 27 in place by next spring.
When you are on the ground in Iraq, you see the progress of the Iraqi Governing Council, the ministry heads, and the constitution writing committee. These men and women readily accept the task of setting their country back on a firm footing and see it as their duty to work quickly and fairly, assessing the progress and taking the setbacks in stride. They know the coalition authority is here to assist them as they rebuild their infrastructure, get their asphalt plants, their cement plants, their water plants and their power plants back in place. They know that once this is in place, that the coalition will help them 'prime the pump' of their economy and become a productive nation.
When the objection to the war in Iraq is cost, it is important to view cost from a historical perspective. WWI cost America 24 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Following the war we loaned Germany money to rebuild and they were crushed under a debt load twice their GDP. WWII and Hitler were products of a Germany unable to repay loans. WWII cost us 130 percent of our GDP and taught us a valuable lesson. We provided grants to rebuild Europe and Japan. Today both are strong allies and defenders of freedom.
The war in Iraq and the war on terrorism are costing us less than one percent of the GDP. Stabilizing Iraq and fighting terrorism where it has its roots is a wise move for the entire free world and it will save us enormously in the future.
When I was in the control room of the 101st Airborne in Mosul, I could not help but notice a sign posted by General David Petreaus -- it said, "We are in a race to win over the people. What have you and your element done today to contribute to victory?" That is the question that each member of congress, each reporter, and each American should ask themselves every day. Our military men and women--and their families-- deserve our support, the Iraqi people deserve their chance at making a democratic society work. When freedom takes hold and Iraq is stabilized, we will be looking into the eyes of an ally.
As for Ms. Blackburn - you will be seeing a lot of her in the future.
I don't doubt it.
I'm going to put several copies of this article on my front counter.
Likewise bashing politicians is not the same as bashing the military.
Wrong. I take issue with you criticizing the military, belittling their efforts and accusing them via a Congressional rep of presenting a facade. You're a clueless, whiny little critic who not only mocks while offering no suggestions but publicly supports those killing our troops. Not directly, of course. That would be too obvious. But the result is the same.
And you know it.
You are just going to have to face the fact that not every citizen in this country worships King George. We don't believe the bullshit about Iraq being a "central front" in the war on terror.
I am loyal to America and the Constitution--not to the Republican party or any of its members.
Mindlessly? You shun the truth in favor of anti-American propaganda. What other conclusion can one make?
Frist has publicly said that this term will be his last, but things can change - as we all know. Marsha would be a very strong contender for that seat, to be sure. She'd have my vote and my support. By that time, she will have served two terms in Incongruous.
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