Saturday, September 13, 2003

A growing number of commentators and politicians have been characterizing the circumstances in Iraq as a quagmire, in some cases likening it to Vietnam...

The reality is that such a view is misleading at best and unsupportable based on objective assessment of the facts. Simply put, Iraq is not a quagmire and certainly in no way analogous to Vietnam. In case anyone has forgotten, the United States fought in Vietnam for more than 10 years under four presidents at a cost of more than 50,000 American lives without achieving (because of political concerns) a military victory...

The United States has begun the process of establishing an Iraqi government, restored basic services throughout most of the country, re-established an Iraqi police force with more than 40,000 officers to date and reopened more than 50 prisons, all in less than five months. Yet there are those who characterize this as a quagmire.

It is true our military personnel have been the target of most of the terrorism, but the way to address that is not more troops. We need to continue to train and expand the Iraqi police force and army to take over everyday domestic order responsibilities, allowing American troops to focus on rooting out the remaining terrorists.

The critics are right about the cost. It is high, and it will get higher. The most recent estimate was $87 billion. I'm not sure what percentage of the dollar costs (not to mention the human toll) of the Sept. 11 attacks that represents, but as far as I'm concerned, it's money well spent.

Whether you agree with the war, the fact is that we are there, and we must succeed. The benefits of success are immense, and the costs of failure would be devastating.

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