Horror, shock in Fallujah: America must press on

The gruesome attacks on four American civilians in the city of Fallujah, Iraq show that we live in a world of great peril, hatred and tumult. The war being waged is not of countries, but of ideologies: democracy and freedom vs. tyranny and oppression, the will of the free vs. those who mean to destroy it.

Often the power and resolve of our enemies are forgotten. Their threat is viewed as rhetoric, but let there be no mistake: this enemy is real. It despises America and the ideals it stands for. It’s determined and will stop at nothing but the annihilation of all we hold dear. The attacks in Fallujah should serve as a costly lesson demonstrating the nature of the enemy we’re faced with.

An enemy that would drag a man, still alive, into the middle of the street to stomp on his head, break his limbs and pelt him with bricks until he died, that would then tear off the limbs from his body and decapitate him, simply because he was an American.

An enemy that burnt two other Americans’ dead bodies to a black char and then hung them, limbs mangled and twisted in ways that would make many regurgitate on sight, from the crossbars of a nearby bridge, that attached the body of an American by rope to the bumper of a vehicle, and dragged it around the city as if it were a piece of celebratory debris at the back of a newlywed’s car.

Fallujah brings back horrible memories of the U.S. soldier paraded around in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, leading President Clinton to a quick withdrawal from the area. We mustn’t let this recent attack have the same effect. It should strengthen our resolve and motivate us to the core to stay the course.

Recent polls show the majority of Iraqis believe their lives have changed for the better since the U.S. invasion. The acts of the residents in Fallujah represent the small minority, but also the resolution and hatred of our potent enemy.

We mustn’t back down, and we must press on in our fight for freedom and democracy. Those who mean to destroy it will do so by any means necessary. The near three-year lull since 9/11 has made us complacent about their threat, but it should provide no sense of security; they’re planning and lurking in the shadows, and they’ll attempt to strike again.

A sign under one of the bodies hanging from the bridge stated, “Bush, Bush, shut your mouth!” Our collective message should be that we won’t shut our mouths – and neither should President Bush. The words he uttered as a warning to the world on 9/11 will reverberate through the hearts of our enemies: “There are two sides in the world today, freedom and terror. You are either with us, or them.”

Due to the determination of our troops and government, “them” is losing. Freedom and democracy are contagious. Let not the pictures of the mutilated Americans dishearten you, but rather, let them harden your will. Democracy is winning; you need look no further than the side of the shocking pictures, where you’ll see one of the dancing Iraqi boys clad in a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball shirt.

Don Donelson can be contacted at d.donelson@umiami.edu.