Some excerpts from an article published in Friday's WSJ.

Don't Forget the Iraqi Troops
By Donald Rumsfeld

Last Sunday, the world witnessed the courage and strength of millions of Iraqis who were determined to take ownership of their country. Braving threats of bombings and beheadings, the Iraqi people rejected the extremism that fuels attacks on civilized people. Iraqi voters proudly raised their ink-stained fingers as well deserved badges of honor. Yet in addition to the brave millions who voted, thousands of other Iraqis have gone mostly unheralded--those security personnel who have served with courage as they work to return stability to their country and battle the insurgency.

Many thousands of Iraqi security personnel are performing exceptionally, and a few examples are worth mentioning. On election day, Iraqi security forces stopped a total of eight suicide bombers across Iraq who were hoping to upset the democratic process and kill innocent people. As was widely reported, one Iraqi policeman tackled and drove a suicide bomber back 50 feet from a polling station screaming, "Let me save the people!" before the bomber's belt exploded, killing them both...

Americans won their battle for liberty because they were willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices that freedom requires. They deserve our respect for their courage, and not criticism from the safety of thousands of miles away.

Since their inception, the size and capabilities of Iraqi forces have grown steadily. Some 136,000 Iraqis currently serve alongside coalition forces. The Iraqi Army has helped to evict terrorists in Fallujah, secure the peace in Najaf, and conduct battalion--and even brigade-sized operations in defense of their country...

Iraqis have assumed these duties with great risk--and great cost. A large number of Iraqi servicemen and women have lost their lives serving their country... Yet thousands continue to enlist. This should tell us a good deal about their determination to make democracy work in Iraq and their defiance of the murderers who seek to take Iraq back to a darker place. Their service should be heralded, not denigrated....

As President Bush noted in his State of the Union address, the coalition is entering a new phase in Iraq. The coalition will continue to work with Iraqis to battle the insurgency. But it will increasingly shift its efforts to assisting the training of Iraqis to defend their country, rather than Iraqis assisting the coalition... Ultimately the coalition will not be the ones that will defeat the extremists. It will be the Iraqi people that will do so...

There may be times when the Iraqi people do not overcome challenges in an instant. Democracy is the best system ever devised, but it is not always efficient and it can be difficult...

I am deeply impressed by the Iraqis' performance, just as I am of the American men and women in uniform. Since March of 2003, the coalition has done the hard work of restoring stability and prosperity to a decimated society and has worked successfully with tens of thousands of Iraqis to bring them to where they are today. America's men and women in uniform are contributing to a noble cause--the cause of freedom for which generations of Americans before them have fought and died. And one day, when their great-grandchildren are reading about the war in Iraq and its aftermath, their history books will say that American forces helped bring hope to a people who were long without it.

New chapters in Iraq history are being written as well. I believe they will record that a brave and determined people--with the help of the United States--rejected tyranny and courageously embarked on a new era for Iraq and perhaps their actions afterwards the entire region.

In my recent thoughts on Americanism - and its fundamental goal of freedom for all, I couldn't help but think of the obvious and present example we have in the war in Iraq. As America continues to realize the actualization of freedom in what was once a tyrannical society, arguments like the "no-WMDs!" or "no-Osama!" continue to lose their weight.

In reality, I believe our president's goal in Iraq and the region at large is two-fold: first, to eliminate the Islamic-extremist terror threat to America. That another airplane hasn't hit another building, that we've seen no attempt on a nuclear facility, and that smallpox is not spreading in our nation right now - all are evidence that this effort is working. America has showed the world, by its actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, that it will respond and eliminate any such threat to the safety of its people. Nations like Iran, Syria, and Egypt would do well to be cognizant of this.

The second goal is one more general - that being the goal of freedom. While the first goal may be generally considered a defense of the American freedom, the second goal is an offensive pursuit of freedom, in fact on behalf of those who cannot obtain it for themselves. I believe (despite my Libertarian slants) that this is a good and right cause. To stand idly by as mass-level human injustices rage in certain areas of the world, for America, would be a societal personification of those who preceded the good Samaritan on the parabled road.

In particular, I believe that America should seriously consider intervention in at least some of the ethnic cleansings and other societal atrocities taking place in the African continent right now - situations that the UN continues to "issue sanctions" about. Yes, we do experience a terrific national deficit, and we have many issues in our homeland that we must tend to. But with reasoned strategies and calculated action at home, we can continue to maintain a wildly- successful economic super power that has the capability to bring its foundational freedoms to those parts of the world that so desperately need it.

We live in a nation where our personal music players sell for more than it would cost to feed an entire tribe of Sudanese for half a year. I think we can afford to help.

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