The year 2003 will be remembered as a year of war and conflict, and it will be measured as a turning point in the war on terrorism. The year began with a great debate about whether to go to war in Iraq and culminated with the capture of Saddam Hussein cowering like a rat in the corner of an 8-foot hole in the ground. Between those two bookends much has happened, and as the year comes to a close, we continue to fight remnants of the Baathist regime, the fedayeen and other international jihadists trying to use Iraq and our friendship with Israel as the tinder to ignite a new worldwide conflagration.
Afghanistan continues its struggle to stabilize after U.S. military surgery cut out the Taliban cancer. But it is still too soon to know whether the cancer was fully excised or whether the patient remains in only temporary remission. Meanwhile, we remain in a standoff with Iran and North Korea over development of nuclear programs and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And the threat of terrorism continues to percolate with bombings in the Saudi kingdom, in the streets of Turkey and with those Iraqis associated with the coalition. Despite all of the uncertainty and challenging problems, there is still much to be thankful for here at the dawn of the 21st century.
As Americans, during this holy season of Christmas and Hanukkah thanksgiving begins with our young men and women at arms who voluntarily, when called upon by their commander in chief to fight, made the sacrifice, and some the ultimate sacrifice of life itself, to defend the free world against a regime believed to be a threat to world peace. Our thanks continue for those soldiers who remain steadfast in a low-intensity war zone now that major hostilities are over. They persist against enormous odds attempting to help people of another land achieve the kind of freedom that we Americans too often take for granted - our God-given right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.
This is also the time of year to remember loved ones lost. In just the last few weeks, America lost two towering figures on the American political stage, and I lost two close personal friends - Robert Bartley and Sen. Bill Roth - both of whom played critical roles in the Reagan Revolution. From the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, Bartley led a one-man army with little more than a pen with a singular yet profound mission: "free men, free markets."