When the United States chose to go into Afghanistan in October of 2001, the naysayers said it could never be done. Our mission would meet with failure. After all, the Taliban and al-Qaida contingents were “intelligent soldiers as well as fierce fighters” and success would never be ours. To begin with, the Taliban is cunning, not intelligent. Secondly, it was America they chose to mess with, not the former Soviet Union. Final result: Chalk up another one for American resolve and ingenuity in the face of adversity from the peace movement naysayers and the post-9/11 trauma.

Now we have the Iraqi conflict and the same naysayers are at it again. It can never be done, they said. The U.S. will suffer many losses, they told us. Baghdad will be a bloodbath for our troops, they cried. Wrong on all accounts, I say. Baghdad is surrounded. A desperate Insane Hussein is hiding out. The losing regime is relying on young Iraqis to sacrifice themselves as well as innocent civilians in order to stay in power.

This regime is coming to a rapid close. After all, we’re talking about an elite ruling group that can only survive on lies, deceit, coercion, and tricking the average Iraqi citizen and the rest of the international community.

These days, if I want comedy all that needs to be done is to read Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf’s latest assertions that American and British troops have been chased back into Kuwait. So who are all those guys in control of the airport and on the doorstep of Baghdad with the tanks and heavy artillery?

So finally the U.S. gets to finish the job it set out to do in 1991, regardless of the naysayers’ prophecies of gloom and doom. The U.S. should’ve taken the shot back then, but the U.N. felt that would be too harsh. Meanwhile, the citizens of Iraq suffered. But now the regime’s end is near and therein lies the hard part: the rebuilding of Iraq and the elimination of the fear factor in a society ruled by a heartless dictator since 1979.

Iraqis by nature are a humble and giving people. They’re also an oppressed and tired people who, like anyone else in this world, want peace and a chance to live their lives in as normal a fashion as possible.

The task at hand will be to assure the good people of Iraq that occupation is not the goal. Persecution of Islam is not the goal either. The goal is to eliminate the monster that has oppressed Iraqis and their neighbors in Iran and Kuwait for so long.

Gone will be the jail cells with meat hooks hanging from the ceiling. Gone will be the torture rooms with acid baths and meat grinders. Gone will be the mutilations suffered by many Iraqi citizens. All these evil things simply for speaking one’s mind. But this removal will take time and will cost some lives. Freedom does not come easy.

We tried the vast multinational approach to reach a solution, but France said non, Germany said nein and Russia said nyet, thus proving the U.N. is a misguided tool. Diplomacy failed, war rages, Saddam’s end is near and Iraqis are closer to freedom than ever before.

This time there’s no backing down from the promise to the people of Iraq we weren’t allowed to keep in 1991. It is clearly time to take the shot, as the target is clearly in the crosshairs at a reasonable range.

Agree with it or not, it is the current reality facing the world today. It is up to the coalition forces to succeed in the goal of removing Saddam from power, increase stability in the region and restore a peaceful way of life for the average Iraqi citizen.

Peace was given a chance, but dictators don’t know peace until they’re ousted from power the way the Taliban in Afghanistan was and the way Saddam in Iraq will be.

It’s only a matter of time and it will be of the coalition’s choosing. Bye, bye, Saddam, you lousy bastard!

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.