06/16/05 — Rep. Jones: Don’t put ‘Pullout’ on a calendar

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Rep. Jones: Don’t put ‘Pullout’ on a calendar

Congressman Walter Jones’ concern over the continuing death toll in Iraq must be shared by all among us. Each of us reads with pain and frustration each day’s reports of car-bombings and ambushes staged by insurgents.

And we share the congressman’s disappointment over the inadequacy of our intelligence apparatus that led our national leaders — the president, his cabinet and the vast majority of the members of Congress, including Walter Jones Jr. — to believe Saddam Hussein was producing weapons of mass destruction.

(In that regard, Saddam apparently had misled even some of his own lieutenants.)

The conduct of the conventional war in Iraq was spectacular. Iraqi forces were overwhelmed in short order and with minimum U.S. casualties.

But since then, we have been engaged in a kind of war for which our military people had no real experience. Fanatic terrorists select places and times to slam explosive-laden vehicles into populated areas with the intention of maximizing the death toll among innocent civilians as well as public officials — or American soldiers.

And highway bombs to be remotely detonated are difficult to detect.

The intent of the insurgent leaders — apparently still loyal to Saddam — is to frustrate and discourage the American resolve.

Those leaders will welcome the news that Congressman Jones, who supported the war and whose district has heavy concentrations of Marines, Army troops and a major Air Force base, is calling for a “schedule” for pulling out of Iraq.

It is the “scheduling” that must give many of us among Congressman Jones’ supporters pause.

The president has said we should get out as soon as possible — but remain as long as necessary.

Hopefully, we are in the “short-rows” of the need for our presence in Iraq. And our president and national and military leaders are fully aware that “as long as necessary” must not be interpreted as “forever.”

But marking a calendar and sending signals that encourage the insurgents to hunker down and wait us out is to jeopardize and potentially forfeit the very worthwhile accomplishments for which our people have been fighting and sacrificing.

Published in Editorials on June 16, 2005 11:43 AM