Finish the job

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The Article

Those who follow politics and government are well acquainted with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s sterling character, invaluable experience and superb qualifications for the post. And those who have had the opportunity to observe her first-hand can truly appreciate the intellect and amazing visionary that she is.

Recently Secretary Rice delivered an address at The Heritage Foundation outlining the progress we have made in establishing a more stable Middle East and world by securing freedom for the people of Iraq. The accomplishments of America and our many international allies and the Iraqi people are impressive—but you wouldn’t necessarily know about them from the daily media grind, which seems to focus only on the tragic loss of American lives. You can read the details in her speech as well as in a comprehensive report by The Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips and other experts who dispel the many myths about Iraq and reveal the truth.

In addition to providing a report on just how far the coalition has come, Secretary Rice also drew on the lessons of history, reminding us that it often takes many years to bring about change. She pointed to the agonizing struggles and seemingly insurmountable setbacks for the allied forces after World War II. As Secretary Rice noted, it must have been demoralizing for the leaders of free nations—especially after having just secured a hard-won, hard-fought victory—to watch “strategic defeat after strategic defeat” in the late 1940s. Communists won large minorities in France and Italy in 1946. The next year, there was civil war in Greece and tensions and strife in Turkey. Then, in 1948, Germany was divided and the Czechoslovak coup occurred. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule.

Small wonder some people were writing obituaries for the West then. They couldn’t know that one day several incredibly brave and resourceful leaders (such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, among others), and the courage and perseverance of free people everywhere, would eventually engineer what many now consider to have been an “inevitable” victory.

At the time, peace in Europe was by no means a sure thing. The winners of the Cold War became winners because they were willing to get through those bleak days when the other side was winning—and not give up. Indeed, they kept their vision alive and in clear view, refused to give in to the naysayers and terrorists of their day, and redoubled their efforts in order to win the prize.

Secretary Rice reminded us of other valuable lessons from history. She noted that her summer reading list included biographies of many of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and Hamilton. And what did she take away from these books? That “there is no earthly reason the United States of America should have ever come into being.”

The challenges our Founders faced in overcoming the greatest military power of their time was enormously daunting, to put it mildly. Lesser men probably would have given up. But our Founders stuck it out, and the rest is … well, history. And if they could remain committed even through their darkest days, why shouldn’t we?

Sometimes, when the going gets tough, you need some serious motivation. Secretary Rice supplied that as well:

“The final enemy we face, the terrorists, are a small but deadly group, motivated by the global ideology of hatred that fuels ad-Qaida, and they will stop at nothing to make Iraq the heart of a totalitarian empire that encompasses the entire Islamic world. If we quit now, we will give the terrorists exactly what they want. We will desert Iraq’s democrats at their time of greatest need. We will embolden every enemy of liberty across the Middle East. We will destroy any chance that the people of this region have of building a future of hope and decency. And most of all, we will make America more vulnerable.”

Such an outcome would have been unthinkable to our Founding Fathers and to the courageous leaders who lead us through the Cold War. May it never be said of us that, when faced with a crisis or challenge, we cut and run. The price of defeat is too high—and the need for victory is too great—to give up, give in or give out. If we persevere, we can finish the job, and the world will be better for it.

Rebecca Hagelin
Latest posts by Rebecca Hagelin (see all)

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