[VIEWPOINT]Troops in a post-Saddam IraqThe Bush administration named its campaign in Iraq “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” And the U.S. military successfully accomplished the core of the operation by capturing the country’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Now that the despot is officially removed, Iraq is ready to set out on its journey toward peace and freedom. But considerable danger still lies in Iraq’s future. Operation Iraqi Freedom essentially has just begun.
The United States certainly has the upper hand in the post-war rehabilitation of Iraq. The capture of Saddam is expected to favorably sway public sentiment toward the war in the United States. Especially when the war has been seen as one of the major issues for the presidential campaign next year, Saddam’s capture is proving to be the best Christmas present President George W. Bush could hope for.
The public is likely to increasingly accept the financial burden of rebuilding Iraq, and the Bush administration will be less likely to be pressured to withdraw U.S. forces from the country before a stable government is formed. The capture has also raised the morale of the soldiers deployed there.
Around 300,000 members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim community were killed by Saddam’s forces after they cooperated with the United States during the first Gulf War, and the capture of Saddam has completely removed the fear that he might return to power and retaliate against those who opposed him. Now that Saddam is gone, Washington can expect a more cooperative response from Iraqi citizens. The capture has removed the possibility of his comeback and is sure to discourage his remaining loyalists.
But it is too early to assume that the bombings and insurgencies in Iraq will immediately disappear. The terrorists and insurgents are affiliated with groups not directly related to Saddam, including Al Qaeda, radical Islamic fundamentalists and nationalists based in Palestinian territory or Lebanon, militant Shiite Muslims sponsored by Iran, and local Shiite militia.
They are expected to carry out actions regardless of Saddam’s whereabouts in order to inhibit the U.S.-led reconstruction efforts. While the capture of Saddam certainly is a landmark event that symbolizes the start of the post-Saddam era, it does not imply the end of the war in Iraq, especially the war against terrorism.
The international debate and friction surrounding the U.S. occupation of Iraq are also likely to continue for now. But as long as terrorism continues to threaten the United States, Washington will make sure that it stays in Iraq. The capture of Saddam will not affect Washington’s will to conduct the ongoing war against terrorism.
Now that Saddam has been caught, Seoul needs to get over the childish debate over the troop deployment. Those who opposed the dispatch of forces insisted that the troops could go only if Iraq proves to be safe. But the point of sending troops is to help secure stability in conflicted regions. If Iraq were peaceful and stable, why would the Iraqi people need foreign troops?
The opponents have changed their position since Saddam was caught. They now insist that there is no justification for the war after Saddam’s capture, and that sovereignty should be returned to the Iraqi citizens and we should withdraw the forces that are already deployed there.
Let’s leave the pointless debate behind. It is about time to become an active participant in creating world peace. We are given a chance to play the role of a mature country by helping Iraqi citizens enjoy the safe and free lives they deserve. We should set out for Iraq to do our part.
* The writer is the director of the Center for Security and Strategy at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Song Young-sun