Two-thousand-three was a very good year for the people of Iraq. For more than twenty years, they suffered under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. But on March 19th, that all changed. President George W. Bush made the announcement:
“At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.”
From the beginning, Mr. Bush spoke clearly about the coalition’s goals in Iraq:
“We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization, and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people."
By early April, Saddam Hussein and his government had fled. The coalition began securing the country and started the process of restoring the government to the Iraqi people:
“In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.”
There are many success stories in postwar Iraq. Schools and universities are open. Systems for water distribution, electricity, and communications are being restored. Municipal and village councils are operating. A new police force and national army are being trained.
But Iraq is still a dangerous place. Remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party and foreign terrorists continue to try to undermine the people’s drive for self-government. But one by one, the enemies of freedom are being captured or killed. And on December 13th, Saddam himself was captured.
Despite these successes, President Bush says the road to peace in Iraq will not be easy:
“It will be a hard journey. But at every step of the way, Iraq will have a steady friend in the American people.”
With the help of the coalition, in 2004, the Iraqi people will continue on the path to security and self-government.