Having studiously avoided commentary on world affairs for some time I feel it is proper to weigh in briefly on the situation in the Middle East in general, and Iraq in particular.

The current situation in Iraq comes as no surprise to anyone who takes a realistic view of the challenges ahead. While the military victory was a foregone conclusion there is no one of any note who believed that once the major battle was won the aftermath would be any less difficult or bloody than it now is. Every death in Iraq, be it of a Coalition soldier or an Iraqi civilian trying to make life a bit better today than it was yesterday constitutes a tragedy: Families are devastated, loved ones are bereft and it can become difficult to understand what the ultimate point is to all the struggle and suffering.

What we see now in Iraq is the predictable aftermath of the overthrow of tyrants and their power base: those who once walked as princes in Baghdad are not inclined to go meekly in to irrelevance. This is exacerbated by the commitment of the Jihadis who now flock to Iraq determined to undermine any peace and stability that might set in, regardless of whether it is driven by the occupying forces or ordinary Iraqis simply attempting to get back to the business of living.

The war itself was a simple matter that could be won by tactics, strategy and application of hard resources. The aftermath, the winning of the peace as it were, carries a steep price, and the only coin that can pay it is blood. As tragic as every death is each one is part of a necessary chain of events, an unavoidable cost on the road to true peace and security in the Middle East. This is not an easy path, and it calls for fortitude and determination on the part of the United States and those allies who have chosen to step forward and shoulder their part of the burden. The ultimate result will be worth the cost, and those whose lives were given as a precious sacrifice upon the altar of freedom shall not have died in vain.

We have seen the military prowess of the West. Now we must see its courage. There are forces in play, both from the reactionary fundamentalist circles and those whose concepts of reality have been twisted by the shattered curse of Marxist socialism, which daily seek to convince the peoples of the west that they have failed, that the struggle was a lie foisted upon them by a deceiving government and that there can never, ever be a free and democratic Iraq. They seek to make such a prophecy self-fulfilling by sapping the will of the American people with a drumbeat of accusation, innuendo and despair. The courage required is that which stands in the face of such adversaries and declares: “The path is long, the choices are hard, and the cost is dear, but the fight is ours to win and we are determined to prevail.”

Time, of course, will tell the tale of victory or failure. I remain optimistic.

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