As an Arab American, I applaud President Bush's decision to protect America's security and rid the Middle East of an evil dictator.
The parents and grandparents of many Muslims and Arab Americans came to the United States in search of a better life and to escape war, violence and religious extremism. My paternal grandfather, in 1914, left a Lebanon ruled by the occupying forces of the Ottoman Turks for the hope of a freer life elsewhere.
Today, the region is still plagued by those ills, and Saddam Hussein is the personification of them. He has waged unprovoked war, killed nearly a million Muslims and supports suicide bombers who wage unholy war on civilians.
Muslims and Arab Americans are split over the war. Some support it, others have opposed any war until America forges a resolution to the Palestinian question, and some focus only on the deaths of Iraqi civilians.
But it is time to recognize that this war is being fought for the people of Iraq, not against them.
Arab Americans must understand that the values of freedom and democracy are not compatible with acceptance of the regime in Iraq, that failing to support Hussein's ouster does nothing for the Palestinians. The nightmare of tyranny cannot end until someone stands up to the tyrant.
President Bush made a promise to the Iraqi people Monday night when he said: "In free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near."
In the 20th century, the U.S. faced and defeated the specters of Nazism and communism. Thanks to our sacrifice, Europe turned away from militarism and toward the benefits of mutual security.
If the Middle East is to travel down this same road, then its specters too must be defeated, not avoided.