U.S. forces still fight­ing the good fight

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

There is a Christ­mas tree inside Sad­dam’s big palace at Camp Vic­tory on the out­skirts of this be­lea­guered city and there is also a Meno­rah. I bet Sad­dam loves that. An ac­tual rabbi from New Jer­sey, on as­sign­ment to the Army, sang at the Meno­rah light­ing. I kind of wish Sad­dam could have been there with me to see it.

The rest of Camp Vic­tory is full of Amer­i­can sol­diers and sup­port per­son­nel. They eat well, have ac­cess to com­put­ers so they can email home, and morale is pretty high for be­ing in a coun­try as chaotic and vi­o­lent as Iraq.

I have trav­eled to this coun­try for one rea­son only: To say thank you to the men and women serv­ing in this dan­ger­ous theatre. No mat­ter what one thinks of the war, a clear think­ing per­son has to re­spect the sac­ri­fice th­ese Amer­i­cans are mak­ing.

With Fox News and CNN avail­able 24/7, the troops know full well that many Amer­i­cans have turned against the war and that much of the me­dia does not sup­port the mis­sion in gen­eral. But, amaz­ingly, the sol­diers and Marines I talked with, which num­bered in the hun­dreds, were con­fi­dent their pres­ence in Iraq was nec­es­sary and noble. Well, good for them.

Be­cause of Amer­i­can forces, mil­lions of Kurds are free in north­ern Iraq and that area is pros­per­ing. Like­wise, some prov­inces in the south­ern part of the coun­try are rel­a­tively calm and Sad­dam’s reign of ter­ror is a dis­tant me­mory.

But new ter­ror lurks and that is the re­al­ity of post-Sad­dam Iraq. Mus­lim killers of all stripes are caus­ing daily death and de­struc­tion and U.S. forces are try­ing to stop them. In a per­fect world, all de­cent peo­ple would be sup­port­ing that ef­fort. But, as ev­ery­one knows, this is far from a per­fect world.

So Amer­i­can and Bri­tish troops shoul­der a tremen­dous bur­den and carry on, wait­ing for their civil­ian lead­ers to fig­ure out what to do in an un­be­liev­ably com­plex and dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion.

At four o’clock on a Satur­day morn­ing, I sat watch­ing the Dal­las Cow­boys-At­lanta Fal­cons game with a lone Marine. We could have been in any liv­ing room in the USA. The plasma TV was glow­ing, we both had chips and drinks, and the game was dra­mat­i­cally close.

The only thing dif­fer­ent about the sit­u­a­tion was that, oc­ca­sion­ally, the an­nouncer’s voice was in­ter­rupted by dis­tant gun­fire. The Marine didn’t seem to no­tice but I did.

In my world, dis­tant gun­fire is an is­sue. In his world, it is the norm.

No one knows how the con­flict in Iraq will turn out, but I can tell you this: the U.S. mil­i­tary are the good guys. De­spite Abu Ghraib, the crimes at Ha­ditha, and a few other bad oc­cur­rences, Amer­i­can forces are fight­ing the good fight, try­ing to bring free­dom to peo­ple who have never ex­pe­ri­enced it and may not even ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort.

A war­rior’s credo is to do his duty with honor and courage. I can re­port with cer­tainty that U.S. forces are do­ing that in Iraq. They de­serve noth­ing but our prayers and ad­mi­ra­tion.

Bill O’Reilly is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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