Three items of news ... have collided and will likely cause some to wonder about the wisdom of having the United States continue its effort in Iraq.
That effort should not be in doubt.
What could cause greater numbers of people to second-guess the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq are these items: the rising U.S. death toll, a report that the U.S. national deficit would be $480 billion next year and possibly reach $5.8 trillion by 2013, and a comment by Sen. Ted Stevens that more money will be needed for Iraq by the end of this year an additional $2 billion to $3 billion to go with the $40 billion to $50 billion expected for 2004.
But now that the United States is in Iraq, it cannot just pack up and leave simply because of increases in military casualties and in the cost to taxpayers. President Bush had it right when he said earlier this week that ''retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks.''
So in Iraq we must stay. And the public should expect that our forces will be there for an extended stay, perhaps years, and that we will have to assume much of the financial cost because many nations are reluctant to help out.
This week's news about Iraq, the financial cost of its reconstruction and the national deficit bring further discussion, rightly so, about how to best to stabilize the situation and hasten that country's transformation into a democratic state. Are more U.S. military personnel needed? How can the United States encourage other nations to help, either with troops or money?
As those discussions continue, patience should remain at the core of this country's effort in Iraq even through the difficult times when, as happened again this week, its soldiers die at the hands of an enemy.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
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