In an amazing display of strategic, technological and military might, coalition forces arrived at the outskirts of Iraq’s capital in slightly less than three weeks.
Operation Iraqi Freedom has been carried out with remarkable effectiveness considering the sheer magnitude of the war. The contributions from all Coalition members were beyond sufficient for our well-planned engagements.
Government and military facilities have been attacked from the air and sea with pinpoint accuracy and minimal loss of life. This is relative to the urban warfare environment with total casualties amounting to less than 150 Coalition deaths and less than 1,300 civilian deaths.
Coalition forces were able to form two fronts with valuable assistance from Kurdish allies.
A few days after the invasion, the U.S. established control of a key river crossing on the Euphrates River at Nasiriya. Iraq’s military, including the supposedly impenetrable Republican Guard, was actually quite ineffectual. Even before the commencement of a major ground offensive, Coalition airstrikes left the Republican Guard’s Medina Division at 65 percent capacity. We moved our way north and, on April 6, Baghdad was completely surrounded.
We should remember when many of the internal naysayers claimed that an invasion of Iraq would have destructive effects on Iraqi citizens, relations with foreign governments, the stability of the immediate region and any other fabrication they could come up with.
After everything the Iraqi government has done to repress its people, including the use of biological weapons against undesirables within its borders, the unrelenting use of contemptible forms of punishment and its most recent activity in shooting at hundreds of civilians trying to flee toward Coalition troops, you would expect the anti-war crowd to side with us.
During times of warfare, Americans should stand together, not only with our soldiers, but also with the president, whether it was President Clinton’s efforts in Kosovo or President George Bush’s efforts in Iraq. I find it irritating when people claim to support our forces while staging anti-war protests that undermine the mission these soldiers are committed to carrying out.
I supported the war in Iraq from the very beginning, and proudly, from an ethical standpoint. We could have prevented this war if former President Bush had listened to the hawks, who urged him to ignore the United Nations. and occupy Baghdad in 1991 when we had the opportunity. Instead, we took a conciliatory approach, settling with ineffective measures, such as economic sanctions and a largely nonbinding agreement for Iraqi cooperation and disarmament.
U.S. forces have located production facilities that have created weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological agents as well as ballistic missiles and delivery systems that Iraq is not even supposed to possess, according to the terms set down in U.N. Resolution 687 after the first Gulf War.
America has an honorable plan to redevelop Iraq by restoring essential services and supplies, using Iraq’s rich oil fields for the long-term economic well being of the citizenry and creating a system whereby citizens can choose their leaders without fear of imprisonment or death.
It is encouraging to hear that France, Germany and Russia have agreed to cooperate with Iraq’s reconstruction.
But the U.S. could have used their assistance much sooner. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz thinks the Iraqi people should develop a new government of their own.
However, with strong external pressure, we have a historic chance at forming a democratic state.
The U.S. has come a long way in a comparatively short period of time. As I write, Tikrit is the only major stronghold left standing, although it is being heavily bombarded from the air. The regime is gone and we should rejoice over how successfully the war was carried out.
The statue of Saddam Hussein falling in Baghdad was a triumphant moment, augmented by the elation from Iraqi citizens who realized that they have finally been liberated from one of modern history’s most cruel and oppressive regimes.
Daniel Cuellar is a moderate Republican from Morris Plains in Morris County. Cuellar is a sophomore political science major at the College.