If a government is formed in Iraq that can withstand the pressures to return it to dictatorship and internal religious factionalism, it will be a victory for Iraqis and their American helpers. If it doesn't, then it will be a disaster not only for Iraqis, but also for the American soldiers who died, or were wounded, and the American taxpayer who footed the bill for their liberation. Speaking of a bill, the president should send Iraq a bill for this war. The money would come from Iraq's vast oil reserves and be used to reimburse the depleted U.S. Treasury. Even a partial payment would help and demonstrate Iraq's gratitude beyond mere words.
Like an Agatha Christie mystery, Iraq is a subplot in a much larger storyline. Whether one was for or against President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein, the larger issue of worldwide Muslim extremism and its aggressive attempts to undermine and then eradicate Western institutions and practices, such as freedom of religion and equal rights for women, remains a "combat operation." That "war" will not always be fought with guns and bullets, but it must be fought with unswerving resolve.
While America wrings its hands about not "offending" Muslims by denying them anything they want, those among them who would force us to bend the knee to Sharia law do not worry at all about offending us. They are not turning pages. They are busy writing a decidedly different ending.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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