America has a great deal to be grateful for this Christmas. But for the country as a whole, and especially for our 31stCongressional District here in Texas, there is one gift that surpasses all others.
We have our soldiers out of Iraq. That gift has been paid for with the victory won by our brave men and women in uniform. They have transformed a country trapped for decades under the brutal heel of a militaristic murderous dictator into a nation on a pathway to a peaceful democracy governed under the rule of law. The future is now in the hands of the Iraqi people.
The fact that our armed forces won the War in Iraq is being unjustifiably downplayed. Those who couch that victory in terms of "leaving with their heads held high", or with just praise for completing their mission do so over concerns that their withdrawal was ordered too soon, and that a premature pullout might open the door to new power struggles. Even if so, that still detracts nothing from our troops' absolute Victory in Iraq under the orders they were given.
Let's review what our armed forces have accomplished since the shooting started. They defeated the largest, best-equipped, most experienced army in the Middle East in a matter of days in open combat. They captured, brought to trial, and buried Saddam Hussein. They destroyed his criminal regime that started two Middle East wars, committed murder, rape and genocide against his own people, openly supported terrorism worldwide, and accumulated weapons of mass destruction for future wars of aggression. Our armed forces have now wiped that government, its army, and secret police from the face of the earth. That's a victory.
The internal conflict between Shiite, Sunni, and Kurds in Iraq that had been suppressed by Saddam's regime quickly escalated into a vicious civil war. Our forces, through combat, intelligence, and diplomatic skills brought all of those forces to bay. Through the brilliantly executed surge plan begun under President Bush and completed under President Obama, our military forged a consensus government and a unified Iraqi military and police to keep the peace. The forces of disunion in Iraq were defeated by our armed forces. That's a victory.
When Al-Qaeda in Iraq - backed by covert Iranian military assistance - chose to turn Iraq into the world's battleground for radical Islamists, our military joined forces with our new Iraqi allies and destroyed them. That's a victory.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind Al-Qaeda's entire global war that began with the unprovoked attacks of 9-11, has been shot to death in a brilliant commando raid by our Navy seals in Pakistan. Anwar-al-Awlaki, the instigator of the 2009 attack on Fort Hood, has been killed by a Joint Special Operations Command drone aircraft in Yemen. That's a victory.
The Armed Forces of the United States have won the war in Iraq. Nothing that happens past this point has any impact on their absolute victory on the field of battle, and their equal victory in their mission to provide military support to civil authority to lead a nation out of despotism.
No military installation in the world provided more troops and sustained more casualties in achieving this victory than Fort Hood. Our neighbors, our friends, and our loved ones here in Central Texas have paid the lion's share of the price for this gift to America and peace-loving peoples worldwide. It was paid for in their blood and sacrifice.
For us here in Texas, the greatest gift this Christmas is having our loved ones back. Not all are home yet, and our efforts in Afghanistan continue. Yet they are all out of Iraq, having successfully completed every assigned mission, and many are back here for Christmas at Fort Hood.
Victory in Iraq and our families back together - Christmas doesn't get much better than that. God Bless each of our heroes, and Merry Christmas to all.