Dear American soldier in Iraq

Dennis Prager
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Posted: Nov 25, 2003 12:00 AM

Dear American Soldier in Iraq:

I am writing to you simply as a fellow American.

In just about every way, I am quite typical. I am a married man with three children, believe in God and love my country. I differ, however, from many Americans in a couple of ways. First, my vocation -- radio talk show host and columnist -- makes me a professional communicator. So I might be able to say things that most other Americans feel but could not communicate quite as clearly. Second, and more important, I suspect that more than some Americans, though hardly more than President Bush and his administration, I am keenly aware of the fragility of civilization, of the monumental evil you are fighting, and of the historic mission of America.

For these reasons, I am writing to you. Though you may already know everything I am about to say, I need to say it for those of you who, after seeing fellow soldiers blown up or severely injured, may sometimes wonder whether these sacrifices are worth it.

So, first, let me set the record straight. Not since World War II have the stakes been this great. This is a war for the future of civilization every bit as much as the war against German Nazism and Japanese Fascism was. If we had lost that war, the world would have devolved into barbarism.

If we lose this one, the same will happen.

It was a war for civilization then; the war against Islamic Fascism is such a war today.

Of course, there are hundreds of millions of fine people among the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. But that is, unfortunately, as irrelevant to understanding today's war as the fact that there were millions of fine Germans living in Hitler's Germany was to understanding World War II.

It is not the fine Muslims who rule most Muslim countries, some of which are among the cruelest on earth. It is not the fine Muslims who dominate the Islamic schools around the world that teach that it is right to subjugate women and to slit Christians' and Jews' throats. It is not the fine Muslims who wish to impose a violent, hate-filled religion on others. It is not the fine Muslims who burned 13 churches in Nigeria just last week.

And sadly, most of the fine Muslims, including those in America, rarely condemn their civilization-threatening co-religionists.

Iraq is the battleground for civilization. That is why our enemies are throwing everything they can at you. If you help create the first free and tolerant Arab country in the heart of Islam, they are doomed. If we fail in Iraq, we are doomed. Our enemies know this. We need to know this.

Second, don't be discouraged by America's relative aloneness in the world. The world is not, by and large, a good place. And the United Nations, which reflects the world, reflects that fact. That is why Libya, a police state that ordered the mass murder known as the 1988 bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, is not only on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, it is the head of the commission. And Syria, which is worse than Libya, judges us on the Security Council.

As for Europe, Britain and a few other Western states aside, the folks who gave us Auschwitz and Communism and who now bankroll Iran and North Korea hardly have a claim to moral superiority. Americans like you died for their errors. They never died for ours. And they err again. Instead of learning to fight evil, they have only learned that fighting is evil.

Third, we Americans are relatively alone because from our founding we have believed that we have a mission to better the world. And for this we are hated. We are not hated for our power; we are hated for our values and our sense of chosenness -- just as the never powerful Jews have long been hated for their values and their chosenness.

In sum, you are carrying the great burden of history on your shoulders every day you serve in Iraq. That some of your fellow citizens do not understand this only means that the war for civilization is taking place as much here at home as it is in Iraq.

We pray for you not only because you are our sons and daughters risking your lives, but because if God is good, and if we humans can discern between good and evil, you are doing God's work. It is as clear as that. No American war has ever been clearer.