I am an American serviceman. On December 5, 2003 when my country called me to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I packed my gear, kissed my wife and kids, and marched off to war. I put a successful career at Apple Computer on hold. My wife stepped up to the commitment we had made and was mother and father to my children for the nine months that I was on active duty. For six of those months I lived in Kuwait and off the shores of Iraq. When I am called again, as I surely will be, I will pack my gear, kiss my wife and family and march into harm’s way.
Those in Congress knew, or should have known, when they voted to invade Iraq that it would be a fairly long term endeavor. I am only a Navy NCO yet I could see that what we were starting would take at least 5 and maybe 10 years to complete. Regardless, we have started this thing in Iraq. Regardless of what mistakes were made getting us into the situation we now find ourselves, the situation and the future of the Iraqi people is now the responsibility of the United States.
Congress needs to set the tone of how the United States will address its commitments. In spring of 2003 when the Coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq we entered into a contract with the Iraqi people. Our end of that contract is that we will help them build a democracy. That job is not done. Pure and simple. The job in Iraq is not done. American forces in Iraq are there to provide security while Iraq builds first a government and then the necessary infrastructure to handle its own defence from both internal and external foes. That is our job. When Iraqi forces are ready to tell us, “you stand relieved, we have the watch,” then, and only then, will it be time for Coalition forces to depart Iraq. And at that point, Coalition forces need to leave Iraq as expeditiously as possible.
Military leaders on the ground in Iraq tell us that setting a timetable for withdrawal of troops is a recipe for disaster. We are playing squarely into the strategy of the insurgents. Insurgents in Iraq and al Qaida regularly tell the world that Americans are soft and do not have the stomach to finish this effort. We, the American service personnel, are not soft. We have the strength and the will to finish what we started. The Iraqi people are, at this point, depending on us to finish what we started. I am doing my job. I ask Congress to do theirs.
Stop using American serviceman to make political hay. Congress needs to stand up and tell the world the America is united in our determination to finish what we have started. That does not mean that Congress has to agree with how we got into to this. But it is critically important that Congress present a united stance on the fact that we will finish it. Congress needs to stand united in telling the new Iraqi government, we support you. Let the Iraqi government sort out what is right for Iraq, without undue influence from any part of the American or any other government. Congress should make the commitment to Iraq that US forces will be there to provide a secure environment for as long as it takes them to build a democracy and the forces to defend it.
American forces, we’re doing our job. Would Congress please quit playing politics and do theirs.