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Here's why we must prevail in Iraq

The United States must endure and succeed in the Middle East or our descendants will suffer

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In responding to the opinion by Ken McCalip ("One bad surge deserves no others," Jan. 11) that severely and, I believe, unfairly castigates President Bush, it is very important to understand that the recent Congressional election was a confirmation on dissatisfaction on the progress in Iraq and not a mandate against the war! It was not a mandate to "bring the boys home."

It is extremely important that citizens lay aside their transparent near-term political baggage, past disappointments, and personal bias in objectively assessing the complex cauldron in the Middle East and the very serious long-term consequences if the United States fails there.

Let's consider the background on why we invaded Iraq: the threat posed by Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the Islamic terrorist manifestation called Al Qaeda as exemplified in the following events:

Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979

Beirut, Lebanon Embassy, 1983

Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks, 1983

Lockerbie, Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York, 1988

First New York World Trade Center attack, 1993

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex, 1996

Nairobi, Kenya U.S. Embassy, 1998

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania U.S. Embassy, 1998

Aden, Yemen USS Cole, 2000

New York World Trade Center, 2001

Pentagon, 2001.

These incidents may appear to be random happenings, but in the total context of the politico Islamic Jihad, they were coordinated and financially supported throughout the Middle East. Even though Iraq was not directly implicated in these occurrences, that does not mean that Iraq through Saddam was not involved in some way financially or indirectly. There is substantial proof of Saddam's cooperation with terrorist elements financially supporting suicide bombings in Israel and in harboring Al Qaeda officials in Iraq.

It is also important to understand the main reason why we invaded Iraq was not WMDs. The president and all government leaders in the Senate and Congress believed, the world believed, and Saddam wanted us to believe that he had WMDs. Saddam in fact gassed thousands of Kurds, but the reason for invading Iraq was strategic and tactical, with the objective of compromising and defeating Saddam as a part of the total threat posed by the militant terrorism manifested in Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

The main issue curtailing our moving on Saddam's record of hostility was the bribes through the Oil for Food Program of key officials in France, Germany, Russia, and the UN! Saddam believed the "oil for food" fraud would stop the invasion because of these bribes. He was wrong. And he and his sons have paid the final penalty for their obsessive exploitation of Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish populations! Saddam exploited Sunni Islam for his political power, but he was basically a cynical secular dictator.

The reality of Iran's enmity toward the United States has never been doubted since 1979. Iran and Syria have been the major source of terrorism directed at Israel. Syria channeled Iran's terrorism through a cooperating Iraq. Iran's potential nuclear capability has been long forecasted. This threat includes the serious and consequentially devastating implication for the destruction of Israel and use of nuclear bombs for terrorist uses.

Today, the edge between Shiite and Sunni cultures has resulted in serious Islamic conflicts that continue today within Iraq. Iran is supporting the insurrection in Iraq with the clear objective that their de facto theocracy be the governing discipline in Iraq and not a democracy.

Syria is under heavy scrutiny for its conduct channeling Iran's resources to Hezbollah in Palestine and Hamas in Lebanon. Iran and Syria have been the major source of terrorism directed at Israel. Iran has an avowed commitment to destroy Israel as exemplified by the Palestinian/Hamas conflict and Hezbollah's presence in Lebanon. We now have Iran juxtaposed with military bases by our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. These military bases severely compromise the Iranian threat. Are we to surrender these strategic military resources and "bring the boys home?"

All citizens of all political persuasions must understand the "name of the game" is to change the Middle East so as to protect the United States' commercial and security interests at home and in the Middle East. To not do so has long-term disastrous cultural and political consequences for the United States. Christians may have problems with Islam, but secular progressives will lose all the freedoms they have gained over the past 50 years with the encroachment of the Islamic cultural and religious initiative in the United States if Iran succeeds.

In summary, these are, I believe, the reasons why we must prevail in Iraq: the establishment of a major secular democracy in the Middle East Iraq's strategic location as confirmed by history as the "centerpiece" of the Middle East Iraq's secular propensities and potential for democracy despite the conflict that exists today and the military and terrorist threat posed by Iran.

Because the Iranians understand the political anti-war, anti-Bush political

climate in the United States, Iran is confident that it can grasp victory. Should we let them? I say no way! The United States must endure and succeed in Iraq and the whole Middle East! If we do not endure, our progeny will suffer in the long term as a result of the United States experiencing a humiliating defeat. We must support the president on this matter and prevail in the Middle East.

Otis Page is an Arroyo Grande resident.

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