Editorial: Keeping company

Iraqi officials are still tallying the votes of the new constitution, but with this milestone comes the lingering question of whether or not the U.S. and coalition forces should begin to withdraw their presence in the region.

Bringing up old arguments of whether or not the United States should have launched the invasion is irrelevant at present. It is obvious that, despite whatever misinformation led to Operation Iraqi Freedom, there remains a significant problem with the country that must be resolved.

The current administration has lectured almost without end that our forces must stay the course and wait until the Iraqi government is in a fully operational state and can manage to control the threat of terrorist activities within their own borders. Even with the eve of a ratification of a constitution for the nation of Iraq, violent actions of insurgent forces seek to shatter the progression of a new era for Iraqi citizens. And even outside of the ongoing clashes, the simple necessities to maintain a stable and functioning country must be addressed.

The Bush administration has consistently held the view that the Iraqis are not yet able to patrol their own people on their own without our assistance. The argument that the insurgency and their terrorist tactics will stop once the U.S. military has vacated is not fully supported, as hardly a week goes by without some attack – either a bomb, mortar or otherwise – on Iraqi police and government establishments. And this does not even begin to include the damage inflicted upon the common citizenry.

Simply put, the United States must continue to stay in Iraq. The terrorists dedicated to defeating the current direction of the Iraqi government, in which many of its own citizens are actively voting and participating, must be stopped. To do this, the ongoing involvement of American troops is required to further train, supply and support an active defensive force that can combat extremism.

The role of the United States in Iraq is to take the burden now and gradually shift it along until this new experiment in democracy can carry such a task. After uprooting the Iraqi sense of law and order, we have a responsibility and duty to instill a new one. But the task of rebuilding does not end with supplying the muscle needed to execute the laws of the land. It must encompass the often preached rhetoric of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

All the security in the world will not provide Iraqis with working utilities, education, medical care and employment. The infrastructure of the government has yet to build a stable shell, and the framework for a bustling national economy in the country is crucial. America does not need to walk out on yet another impoverished nation. We must work to rebuild what has been destroyed during the war and also improve living conditions. The old rule of “give it back better than you received it” should be applied with haste.

To cut and run now, after the final votes have been tallied for the Iraqi constitution, would be folly to suggest. The problems are in front of everyone to see, and as a nation we must accept the honor of helping to rebuild a new democracy.