Resolve needed for dark days ahead

By Tony Ahern
   "He looks good. He looks mad."
   These words emitted from my telelvision set. They came from a brave mother upon seeing her brave son, who unfortunately was one of the American POWs being held by the Iraqis. How well these six words define our situation and our resolve.
   During these initial days of the war, our forces, our stategy and our progress indeed "looks good." The strategy of pinpointing and destroying Saddam and Republican Guard strongholds while leaving civilian infrastructure largely unharmed is both humane and tactical. We aren't there to destroy Iraq, but to destroy Saddam and his agents of tyranny. Skirting cities to focus on Baghdad will save lives and bring the end game to bear.
   We are being patient and putting technology -- awe-inspiring technology -- to work. But it's also our leaders, our pilots and the men and women on the ground that are getting this done so proficiently.
   But tough, ugly, horrifying days are ahead. Talk of Iraq using chemical weapons -- those things Iraq swore they didn't have -- are frightening. Coalition troops, the innocents in Iraq, the world in general, will need our thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks and months ahead.
   While the war in total "looks good" for us at present, we must also stay "mad" and stay on task, which comprehensively is freeing the world from the dangers of Saddam and his regime, and liberating Iraq from this despot who has murdered hundreds of thousands of his own countrymen, and has starved them only to fortify his own wealth.
   We all know the story. The question is do we have the stomach to bring it to an end. The message conveyed by that certainly terrified mother would indicate that we do. We are committed and we won't be deterred.
   We know it isn't going to be easy. Even when Saddam is dismantled and humanitarian aid is flooding the country, America will still be an on-the-street enemy. We must remember that those in Iraq under age 25 have never known a leader other than Saddam, and have grown up despising America. We're hopeful that his regime is a house of cards that will crumble from within when his loyal military is devastated. We want to see Iraqis celebrating in the street once the final Saddam billboard is knocked down. But that may not happen to the extent we wish.
   Until a new Iraqi-controlled government is installed, don't expect anyone to whistle Yankee Doodle Dandy is downtown Baghdad. Even then, don't expect it. The Arab leaders are glad we're taking care of Saddam. The Arab people, Muslims with hatred against the West and American internationalism, wish we would have stayed home, rather to live with an Arab despot than Western invaders.
   As the war progresses into Baghad, we need to take heart, keep our goals in mind, be ready for horrors that may befall our fighting forces, and may we keep a steady, steely resolve.
   Let's remember the brave spirit typified by the mother of a POW: May our forces continue to look good, and may we all stay mad until the job is done.