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We are winning peace in Iraq

By JEFF EMANUEL

Published on: 06/22/06

Two American soldiers, missing since an insurgent ambush at the checkpoint they were manning last Friday, were found dead just south of Baghdad, Iraq; their bodies were recovered Tuesday. An Iraqi general confirmed to the Associated Press that the soldiers' bodies showed signs of torture, and that the men appeared to have been killed in a particularly "barbaric" way.

This assertion appears to be backed up both by the fact that DNA tests were scheduled to positively identify the remains, and by the claim of responsibility made by the self-titled new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, who posted on an Islamist Web site that he "carried out the verdict of the Islamic court" for the death of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by "slaughtering" (a word most often employed when referring to beheadings) the two soldiers.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

In a written statement, Tucker's family said that their son had joined the military in part out of a desire to "do something positive." They also released to the press the text of a message he left on their answering machine less than a week before his capture, in which he reaffirmed his commitment to, and belief in, his mission.

"I'm defending my country," he said, asking his mother to be proud of him.

Interestingly silent on this and other atrocities carried out by the insurgents in Iraq are the "human rights" groups who seem to spend every day accusing the United States of torture and other war crimes.

Last month, Human Rights Watch again accused the United States of "brutalizing Muslim suspects in the name of the war on terror," but how many times have Americans strapped bombs to their own chests and purposely detonated themselves in a large crowd of civilians? Amnesty International's Web site highlights America's use of "torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" against terrorist captives, but how many prisoners — Muslim or otherwise — has America beheaded?

In spite of the anti-war crowd's fervent attempt to make this murder of American soldiers into an election-year political issue, the decreasing frequency of effective insurgent attacks, combined with the increasing desperation of their methods, sends the inarguable signal that a turning point in Iraq has been reached.

Al-Zarqawi's demise at the hands of Air Force pilots and joint Special Operations troops was the most obvious sign, but the tide had been turning in the favor of freedom long before al-Qaida's leader in Iraq was finally caught.

Computer files recovered after the bombing show that al-Zarqawi had been growing more and more concerned about the "bleak situation" his insurgents were facing.

"Time is beginning to be of service to the U.S. forces," he wrote, "by allowing them to form and bolster the [Iraqi] National Guard, undertake big arrest operations, carry out a media campaign weakening the resistance's influence and presenting it as harmful to the people, [and] create division among [the insurgency's] ranks."

He also wrote that he believed the only way "to get out of this crisis" was "to entangle the American forces into another war," such as one with Iran.

These are not the words of a bold, invincible leader of an army of freedom fighters on the verge of defeating the world's greatest military. There is no question that the murdered soldiers, and all others lost in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, are to be mourned. Both Menchaca and Tucker left behind families, friends and other loved ones. Given that, it is supremely important — even necessary — that they leave behind a grateful nation.The tide has turned in the battle to win the peace in postwar Iraq. Those who have stood on the sidelines for the past three years — or, worse, who have actively worked against the cause of freedom and democracy in that nation — are dangerously close to being remembered (if they are remembered at all) not for their support of human rights, but for their self-righteous fight against them — all in the name of their hatred of America, and of President Bush.

Jeff Emanuel of Athens served in the U.S. Air Force from 1999-2004. His assignments included a year in Korea and combat duty in Iraq.

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