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Let freedom reign

By Brad Jewitt
web posted July 19, 2004

"Let Freedom Reign."

President George W. Bush wrote these words on a letter sent to him by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. He and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were attending a meeting with NATO leaders when they received the news: Iraq was now in the hands of new leadership.

On June 28, 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred power to a sovereign Iraqi government, two days before the announced deadline. The interim government is now in charge. But this remarkable achievement in U.S. foreign policy was virtually ignored by some Democrats and criticized by others.

For example, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) said, "I wish this was a true handover of power. But without Iraqi control of the military, without control of their oil resources, I see this as nothing more than a political sham." Besides the usual negative criticism, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry didn't have much to say about the handover.

Remarkable. Saddam Hussein -- a man who tortured, raped, and murdered thousands of his own citizens and others -- was overthrown, arrested, and detained. His ties to al-Qaida made him a danger to the world. Yet, Democrats can find nothing positive to say about his capture and Iraq's newfound freedom.

For the most part, the media are intent on highlighting our setbacks in Iraq. Abu Ghraib. Fallujah. Insurgent uprisings. To hear Democrats and the media elite tell it, you would think our efforts in Iraq and the war on terror as a whole have been unqualified disasters.

But here's what else has been happening in Iraq while narrow-minded naysayers apparently refuse to gaze beyond their own blinders:

  • Water, electricity, and sanitation projects in Najaf and Fallujah will be completed this summer, to the benefit of nearly 800,000 Iraqi citizens.
  • Reconstruction of Baghdad International Airport continues in preparation for commercial operations and increased traffic.
  • The total number of telephone subscribers in Iraq is now over 1,220,000 -- a 45.7 per cent rise over pre-war levels.
  • The Iraqi Ministry of Health has recently completed a nation-wide immunization campaign covering more than five million children. Primary health care kits for nearly forty health centers in Fallujah, Najaf, and Karbala will soon be delivered in an effort to equip a total of 600 primary health care centers with much-needed medical supplies. A health clinic in Baghdad's Sadr City has been re-equipped and now serves 15,000 citizens.
  • On May 15, the Coalition and the Education Ministry ordered the printing of 72 million textbooks, covering more than ten subjects for six million students. The Coalition is also working with the Ministry to expand pre-school and kindergarten programs for Iraqi children.
  • The Coalition has created over 435,000 jobs for Iraqis. The new Iraqi currency has been relatively stable for nearly three months and bank branches have re-opened. Revenues from oil exports total nearly $6 billion already this year.

What do Iraqis themselves think of the handover? Half believe Iraq is headed in the right direction and 73 per cent believe the handover will improve the current situation. Of course, there are many obstacles to peace and security in the region. Violence is a daily occurrence, and our troops will remain in Iraq to secure and stabilize the new government. In the words of President Bush, "The Iraqi people have their country back. We have kept our word."

And we will continue to keep it.

It is ironic that Iraq, once oppressed under a cruel dictatorship, celebrated its independence a week before we celebrated our own this year. On Independence Day, President Bush said, "We still believe, on America's 228th birthday, that freedom has the power to change the world."

But freedom is not free. God bless America for its willingness to remain true to its founding vision -- and to sacrifice for the liberty of strangers, who will continue to thrive long after our detractors become a sad footnote in history.

Brad Jewitt is the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress in Maryland's Fifth Congressional District. He is a 15-year Marine who was activated in support of both Operation Desert Storm/Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom. Visit his website at www.jewitt2004.com.

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