Frank Gaffney
History will likely record December 13, 2003 as the tipping point in the liberation of Iraq. Of course, much of importance preceded that moment - the U.S.-led invasion of the country, the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime and the beginnings of an expensive and time-consuming reconstruction. Still, there is reason to believe that, when American forces dug the former Iraqi dictator out of his rathole in Tikrit on Saturday night, the beginning of the end of the nightmare he inflicted on so many for so long had arrived.

To be sure, as with the turning points of most military campaigns - the battles of Gettysburg and Midway come to mind - there will surely be a great deal more bloodshed and loss of life and property at the hands of the Saddam's loyalists and their imported allies. But there can be little doubt now that those who persist in attacks on the human and physical resources of Iraq are just what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has long called them: Dead-enders.

The capture of Saddam should make clear to all, and most especially to the people of Iraq, a fundamental reality: The liberators of the country are going to prevail.

This perception is likely to have profound implications, both within Iraq and elsewhere. These should include the following:

The anti-liberation insurgency will, over time, diminish. This will be partly because of the inevitable, demoralizing effect on the attackers of the elimination of the man in whose name the resistance was being mounted.

A more important factor, however, will be that the environment in which the attackers have operated will become substantially less hospitable to them and their efforts to kill allied forces, international relief workers and Iraqis who have cooperated in Coalition efforts to secure and rebuild their country. It is hard to overstate the traumatizing effect the prospect of Saddam's return has had on a deeply scarred people. In his absence, there is no reason to accommodate his henchmen and every reason to work with others who oppose them.

Foreign fighters may be another matter. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria all have their reasons for wanting to thwart the experiment in an Arab democracy President Bush is helping Free Iraqis to forge. By definition, however, such foreigners will have an even harder time operating unseen among the people of Iraq than will the former regime loyalists. The United States must help the Iraqis to root out and neutralize these predominantly radical Muslim (or "Islamist") forces by helping to secure Iraq's borders and to dissuade neighboring countries from allowing them to be penetrated.


Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
 
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