Monday, February 23, 2004

To most Americans, Iraq has turned into a slow, bloody war of attrition. Every time we glance at a newspaper there has been another bombing, more casualties, and little in the way of obvious progress. This has led many to doubt the benefit of leaving our troops in the region.

What we need to realize, though, is that we really are making headway. In his column last week, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman cited a number of Arab journalists who have begun to openly voice their objections to terrorist bombings in Iraq and praise the opportunity that American troops have given Iraqis to regain control of their country.

Every time an Arab journalist denounces the fanaticism that currently holds a death grip on the region, we win an important battle and come one step closer to achieving what should have been our goal in Iraq in the first place: freeing a captive people.

Iraqi citizens realize - more than the American public thinks - that U.S. troops are absorbing much of the retribution had been aimed at them, and that they really do have an opportunity to improve their lives in a way they never could have under Saddam Hussein's rule.

Which is exactly why we need to stick this fight out. It took the U.S. 13 years to go from independence to its current form, and the road to a democratic government in Iraq will likely be just as long. This is not to say our troops will be patrolling the streets of Baghdad for the next decade, but we should be hesitant to depart before we are certain of the outcome.

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